He did add to his prepared remarks that incivility did not cause this tragedy, but he stopped short of a full rebuke of the complete irresponsibility of those who have been stoking anger at conservatives who—as far as we know—had nothing to do with this.
When the president did lay blame, it was on Americans in general. Among the many odd assertions he made: suggesting that “what a tragedy like this requires” is that “we align our values with our actions.” We were told to “expand our moral imaginations.”
A mentally ill gunman opened fire at a Safeway. A lack of “aligning” or “imagination” really wasn’t the problem. Obama chided Americans to “be better,” as if we somehow caused this shooting to happen. He said, “We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.”
Now if Obama isn’t talking about political discourse here, I don’t know what he’s talking about. Certainly he can’t be suggesting that how you treat the mailman or your mother is at issue.
Let’s be clear: How we “treat each other” also is not what caused this shooting. Mental illness combined with a gun and a 33-round high-capacity magazine collided to produce a tragedy. This may not have been the venue to discuss this in such pointed terms, but it also should not have been used as an opportunity to push further into the media bloodstream the lie that hostile rhetoric or incivility even played a role in this, let alone caused it.
Multiple polls have shown that Americans reject the assertion that political speech incited the shooter. Nothing has come up in the investigation to suggest it played a role. In fact, it’s been reported that a friend of gunman Jared Lee Loughner flatly rejected heated rhetoric as an issue, telling Good Morning America, “He did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right.”
- They couldn’t deny that Joe Stack (who flew his plane into an IRS bldg.) quoted the Communist manifesto favorably and disliked George Bush, but labeled him the “Tea Party terrorist” anyway.
- They couldn’t deny that Richard Poplawski’s only connection to Glenn Beck was that he was disappointed in Beck’s debunking of a conspiracy theory he believed in. They continue to suggest Poplawski was a fan.
- They couldn’t deny that Pentagon shooter J. Patrick Bedell was a registered Democrat and a 9/11 Truther who disliked Bush, but they wanted him to be a Tea Partier as well.
- They couldn’t deny that Clay Duke was a leftist inspired by a left-wing movie produced during the Bush years, so they mostly said nothing at all.
I’m leaving out a bunch more. The census worker’s death who was blamed on the right, but which turned out to be suicide. The “right-wing” shooter at the Holocaust museum who turned out to hate Christianity and Fox News. And now the latest on the Giffords shooting is that Loughner may have been anti-Semitic and targeting her because she is Jewish. Generally speaking which party is more supportive of the Jews and Israel and which one is regularly accused of being beholden to Jewish interests? The group Loughner is believed to have been part of also supports SB1070, but Giffords was known to be tough on border control, so how would shooting her advance that agenda? Once again, we’re not supposed to look that closely or ask if any of it makes sense. We’re just supposed to feel outrage at the right targets.
With every new incident the left launches into a fresh public fury and then when the facts come in they never step back or apologize, they just move on to the next “fake but accurate” story. The meme they are pushing survives by leap-frogging from lie to lie, often stealing unearned outrage from cases that could more easily be called left-wing violence. I appreciate the calm voices on the right that want to avoid politicizing this or any tragedy, but frankly I don’t know how they do it in the face of this sort of endless propaganda effort by the left.
The New Hampshire GOP says “screw marriage.”
What’s the worst lie Ann Coulter has ever seen in the New York Times? It’s a doozy.
My NRB colleague Paul Cooper has a cool list of pro-life heroes.
How many “memorial services” can you think of with their own official logos and t-shirts?
Wisconsin Republicans plan to push voter ID. Now there’s change I can believe in!
In the wake of Tucson, Sarah Palin’s getting an “unprecedented” amount of death threats. But don’t hold the scumbags to their own standard and blame Paul Krugman, James Clyburn, or Chris Matthews, No sir.
Joe Carter contemplates atheist anger toward God. Why vent at someone you don’t think is there?
And check out the case against cutting defense spending.
Bill Clinton. Keith Olbermann. Chris Matthews. Dick Durbin. Scott Feldstein. Jay Bullock. David Frum. Paul Krugman. The New York Times. Jonathan Alter. Bob Kerrey. James Clyburn. Joan Walsh. Robert Brady. Jon Justice, Jane Fonda, Michael Moore, Patton Oswald, Elizabeth Banks, Roger Ebert, John Legend, Josh Groban. Markos Moulitsas. Stuart Shapiro. Patrick Kennedy. Chris Liebenthal. John Kerry. Ed Schultz and Bill Press. Clarence Dupnik. Aaron Mehta.
This is but a partial list of politicians, journalists, bloggers, and celebrities who have chosen to use the horrific shooting in Tucson – which left six people dead, including a little girl, and a Congresswoman fighting for her life – as an opportunity to condemn conservatives and Republicans for allegedly inflammatory rhetoric. Some explicitly claim figures such as Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin are culpable for Jared Loughner’s actions, while others insinuate they are dangerously cultivating the sort of hatred and fear that could trigger similar acts in the future. *
Never mind that the perpetrator’s mentally-disturbed, violent tendencies are unrelated to politics. Never mind that the political indicators in his record, if anything, suggest hostility to God and an affinity for radical leftism. Never mind that his hatred of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had nothing to do with her or her party’s policies.
Jared Loughner thinks in gibberish, processes what he sees and hears in gibberish, and acts on gibberish. Yet we’re asked to hang our heads in shame about an alleged cause-effect relationship that leads from Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin straight to Loughner’s trigger finger?
Bull. I get the intent behind respectfully critiquing this line of attack as Allahpundit does, but doing so misses the point. The point is: this record has already been played time and time again. It’s broken. The people using this to smear conservatives know better. Some of the more shameless ones, like Frum and Feldstein, admit as much—they acknowledge Loughner’s real motives yet proceed to say we should use the opportunity to bash the Right’s “dangerous, irresponsible rhetoric” anyway.
None of this is sincere. We know because these leftist lies about conservatives are nothing new. When a Communist circulated Obama-as-Hitler posters, conservatives were blamed. MSNBC ran selective footage of a black man with a gun, to characterize him as a potentially trigger-happy white supremacist. Leftists have publicly advocated impersonating Tea Partiers. The media misrepresents polls to defame Tea Partiers. Phony quotes attributed to prominent conservatives are disseminated without hesitation.
We know because we have a decade’s worth of hatred, terrorism, anger, bigotry, dishonesty, and violence-inciting from scores of left-wing activists, celebrities, journalists, and public officials on the record. We have violence committed by leftists against conservatives, and violence committed by radical Islamists, for which leftists have a different standard. The online savagery of leftist commenters is the stuff of legend.
If any of these lying, two-faced, murder-exploiting bastards were even remotely concerned about the “tone” of American politics, they would have piped up when it was their side—their fellow travelers, their elected leaders, their favored media personalities—doing the “coarsening.” But with rare exception, they either ignore it outright, make excuses for it, or tell bald-faced lies about their side’s filth coming from “marginalized, unimportant people whose voices don’t carry too far.”
Sure. “Marginalized, unimportant people” like prominent MSNBC commentators Schultz and Olbermann. Like Rep. Alan Grayson, who Obama has showered with praise. Like the current Senate Majority Leader. Like Sen. Dick Durbin. Like Sen. Robert Byrd. Like Rep. Keith Ellison. Like the late Ted Kennedy. Like former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe and numerous other Democrat officeholders. Like former President Jimmy Carter. Like current President Barack Obama. Nah, those “voices don’t carry too far” at all…
You want to know why America’s got problems? Why our political discourse seems so degraded, so futile? Re-read the names comprising the first paragraph, and you’ll have one of the biggest answers. The answer isn’t that we don’t scrupulously follow arbitrary rules of decorum. The answer is that the conduct of bad people in government, in the media, and in the blogosphere has gone unchallenged for far too long. We criticize their misconduct one day, yet we smile at them and act as if it never happened the next. We’re so eager to demonstrate our reasonableness, our maturity that we keep reaching out to the other side, no matter what they do. It never seems to occur to us that they might be giving us a glimpse at their souls.
But these cretins—so consumed by hatred and bias, so devoid of morality, that they’ll exploit murder to hurt their political enemies—bring shame upon their professions and upon our country. Treating these smears like they’re sincere concerns legitimizes them, and guarantees that we’ll see more of this defamation in the future.
Enough. It’s time to stop pretending the participants of this smear campaign are decent people who’re simply misguided. It’s time to stop extending olive branches. To stop pretending it’s respectable to cast votes for them. To stop giving their blogs and publications our attention and business.
And given the topic, let me be perfectly clear, to preempt anyone who would consider twisting my words against me: this is not a call to violence. The only just response to even evil speech is to exercise your own freedoms of speech and free association. To respond with physical force would be a failure of our human capacity for self-control, a violation of our foes’ God-given, unalienable rights, a betrayal of our respect for the rule of law as citizens in a free society, and a vote of no confidence in our ability to solve our problems through the public discourse and the democratic process.
This much is true: American political discourse is sick. How we react to the murder-exploiters among us will reveal whether or not we’re finally serious about healing it.
* UPDATE: The second paragraph has been modified from its original version to more accurately reflect the caveats made by some of those named. In the comments, Scott Feldstein requests that I remove his name entirely. That’s not going to happen, but his complaint did convince me that this change was in order, because I value truth and accuracy regardless of which political agendas they advance or hinder.
The shooting that took six lives, including a little girl and a judge, and have seriously injured Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is absolutely sickening. Pray for the full recovery of those injured, and for comfort and peace for those who lost loved ones.
Donald Douglas and Walter Hudson have great round-ups of details about the shooter, a mentally-disturbed, gold-standard loving, atheistic, paranoid, anti-government fan of The Communist Manifesto. The info contained therein puts the lie to the dishonesty and hypocrisy of those blaming the shooting on everyone from Sarah Palin to the Tea Party movement to the Religious Right.
This is nothing new – leftists defame conservatives whenever violence is inflicted upon one of their own, and even when it isn’t. There’s not much more to say about it that hasn’t already been said, save reiterating the one thing everyone who hears this filth needs to understand.
This line of attack isn’t sincere. Those pursuing it know better. They don’t care what really motivates killers, or what conservatives do and don’t say. They say it anyway because they’re fundamentally indecent people. Period.
The Iraqis don’t want us to leave yet, and a narrow majority doubts that Barack Obama cares about their situation. Great…
In National Review, Jason Lee Steorts reveals the dark side of Ayn Rand.
And here comes backdoor amnesty. Boy, some leadership from the opposition party would be nice….
I generally don’t have any problems with pro-life supporters, so long as they’re not blowing things up, shooting doctors, or harrassing women. But a few things on the Generations site leave me feeling a bit uneasy…
Since the overwhelming majority of America’s millions of pro-lifers would never even consider violence, then Jayce doesn’t have anything to worry about. Indeed, according to the second of these three articles, one of the killers “was disappointed with the anemic response from pro-life activists, who denounced Griffin’s use of violence” (the article also says “Most mainstream antiabortion organizations distanced themselves from him.” I’d sure like to seem them try to substantiate the implication that any pro-life group which could legitimately be deemed “mainstream” either stayed neutral or embraced the killings.).
Anyway, the article in question is an announcement for a couple protests of a new abortion mill in Aurora, Illinois (I was gonna call the article a “call to arms,” but as we’ll see below, you never know what phrases might trigger liberal bed-wetting). Jayce is mortified that teen pro-lifers “are determined to do everything they can to stop Planned Parenthood” (his emphasis). “I hope ‘everything’ doesn’t really mean everything,” he says, with no evidence whatsoever that GFL harbors even a shred of sympathy towards anti-abortion violence. Jayce then complains that GFL describes participants of Families against Planned Parenthood’s 40-Day Prayer Vigil as “Prayer Warriors,” because it sounds “way to much like these psychos at Army of God.”
The so-called Army of God supports killing abortionists. Take a look at what FAPP’s idea of a “Prayer Warrior” consists of, and you’ll see it’s juuust a little different. Take a look at any serious pro-life organization, like the several on CFO’s “Fighting for Life” sidebar (whoops! Can’t say “fighting!”), and the difference between us and the killers is self-evident—to the fair-minded.
Speaking of facts, let’s take a look at some hard numbers. NARAL’s own statistics (PDF link) cover both the US and Canada & are up to date as of January 1, 2007. Now, bear in mind that an organization which advocates killing children is certainly unlikely to have any qualms about cooking the numbers (when you’re in their line of work, you need all the sympathy you can get), but for the sake of argument, let’s take them at face value. So how pervasive is the anti-choice reign of terror?
– 7 murders
– 17 attempted murders
– 41 bombings
– 171 arsons
– 82 attempted bombings & arsons
– 574 fake anthrax letters
– 92,000 “acts of disruption” such as bomb threats & harassing calls
Assuming none of the other cases were counted among the “acts of disruption,” that’s a grand total of 92,892 acts of pro-life extremism covering both the US and Canada. That sounds like a lot, but bear a couple things in mind. About 99% of the acts come from the “disruption” category, and we should be wary of exactly what constitutes a “harassing call” in NARAL’s view—I highly doubt they only counted violent calls; rather, I’ll bet there are quite a few in that number which only consisted of arguing abortion’s morality and/or offering to pray for their forgiveness. Say what you want about the productivity or decorum of such calls, but they certainly can’t be described as malevolent in any way. What’s more, NARAL puts the bomb-threat number at 596, which means the overwhelming majority of the pro-life extremism in general, and of the disruptions in particular, consists of lesser acts.
As for the incidents of actual violence and genuine threat, each is inexcusable & deplorable, and no pro-lifer should tolerate them in any way. The good news is, the fanatics make up only a tiny minority of Americans against abortion. In contrast, how big is the real pro-life movement? Consider that Pro-Life Wisconsin alone boasts the support of 14,000 families (and that many pro-lifers only belong to one of a state’s multiple pro-life groups given their differences on things like rape exceptions), and the serious, honorable pro-life movement easily dwarfs the unhinged.
So why does Jayce think saying inflammatory things without evidence is ethical? Because “submission of moral authority makes anything possible, including murder…the lines between morality, martyrdom, and terrorism are blurring more each day.” Is submitting one’s moral authority to religious belief likely to make somebody violent? It can; I’m not aware of any Christian who denies that the Bible’s been used to justify horrible things, and we’re in a world war sparked by Islamic fanaticism. But “submission of moral authority” alone doesn’t create bad results; submission combined with bad teachings does, as does submission in the absence of reason—fortunately, most Judeo-Christians embrace reason wholeheartedly.
Moreover, if God-submission is to blame for all religious evil, then it deserves equal credit for all religious good. Believing that one is God-bound to do charity and oppose bigotry is just as powerful as believing that one is God-bound to kill. In fact, the secular should be thankful that believers overwhelmingly “submit their moral authority” to the former than to the latter (don’t believe me? Click here to hear Dennis Prager’s interview with Arthur Brooks, author of Who Really Cares).
One more observation: why is submitting moral authority to something else inherently more problematic than the alternative: deeming oneself the highest arbiter of one’s morality? It seems to me the latter has its own potential to produce arrogance & rationalization. After all, Jayce’s atheism certainly didn’t keep him from smearing GFL without evidence.
Only someone suffering from religious paranoia could seriously construe the work of Generations for Life as blurring the lines between morality, martyrdom, and terrorism. Neither critical thought nor honest concern could possibly yield such a result. Whether it’s Jayce, Christopher Hitchens, or Sam Harris, some people just can’t escape their prejudices when it comes to religion. That’s a shame, and we can only hope & pray that they’ll someday grow up.