Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Tucson Shooting and the True State of American Political Discourse (Updated)



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.

13 comments:

  1. "Enough. It’s time to stop pretending the participants of this smear campaign are decent people who’re simply misguided."

    Damn right. These people on the left aren't "well meaning". They are crappy human beings. That is how they need to be described by honest people if honest people are ever to be taken seriously by the uninformed.

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  2. I don't belong on your list. Take me off.

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  3. No. If you claim that you don't belong because you acknowledge Loughner's real motives, you'll find that I already acknowledge the fact - after which I point out that you're still using the opportunity to defame the Right and lie about your own side's objectively-worse record.

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  4. The fact that some have--erroneously--attributed Loughner's actions to over-the-top right-wing rhetoric is a perfectly legitimate occasion to point out that a) they're wrong and b) it's still true that their rhetoric is inappropriate. There's nothing unfair about it.

    You want to peddle your outrage, try aiming it at someone who actually thinks Glenn Beck influenced Loughner to shoot people. (Like he did with Byron Williams.)

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  5. 1.) Attributing Loughner's actions to right-wing rhetoric isn't "erroneous." It's deliberately dishonest.

    2.) You are welcome to present examples of "over-the-top right-wing rhetoric."

    3.) The fact remains that you're lying about your side being more civil. Not only have leftists consistently been more vicious, hateful and dishonest for ages, but extremism and incivility are welcomed and practiced by liberal and Democrat leadership to a far greater degree. This that your concern about overheated rhetoric is completely insincere.

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  6. 1.) That's a matter of opinion. Like anything I'm sure it's a mixed bag. Someone somewhere is seizing it as an opportunity to vent their anger at the right. Most, i suspect, simply jumped the gun (as it were) and rushed to judgement.

    2.) Go to youtube.com. Type in "Glenn Beck." Enjoy.

    3.) I'm not "lying" about anything, nor am I "insincere." I disagree vehemently that the mainstream American left is as angry and hateful as the mainstream American right is today. We have our crackpots, but they don't have primetime TV shows and they don't hold high office. At least not to the extent that your crackpots do.

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  7. 1.) Most "simply jumped the gun"? Actually, most simply didn't care whether or not it was true - they wanted it to be true, so it was, because it suits their propaganda purposes.

    And even if we allow that it's possible for decent people to "rush to judgment" on something like this, "decent people" also apologize for their irresponsibility when it becomes clear they're wrong. So you mind providing examples of liberals who have apologized for rushing to judgment?

    2.) Oh, that's right - you don't much care for backing up your assertions with evidence. (But I also remember how much you whine when other people challenge you to Google for proof you ask for!)

    3.) Yes, you're lying. Yes, you're insincere. We know this because (as you do with every issue) you've been presented with clear evidence to the contrary, and you ignore it. You've more than proven that you're gonna say whatever the hell you want regardless of what's true.

    You will find that I've refuted your lie, with supporting links, in this passage of the post:

    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…

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  8. Clearly some people think this is an opportune moment to level the perfectly true criticism that the American right's rhetoric is too inflammatory. Even those who recognize that Loughner isn't really the poster child for this phenomenon, such as myself.

    And yes I get that in your world Keith Olbermann is exactly as inflammatory and insane as Glenn Beck, but in the real world he isn't. Just like NPR isn't just the liberal Limbaugh. False equivalencies. But whatever. You've made it clear you don't get it and I have no desire to argue back and forth with someone who occupies a different universe.

    Your constantly accusing me of lying is getting old, too. I'm quite sincere and I believe exactly what I'm saying. Even if I'm the wrongest person in the history of wrongness, there's one thing you can take to the bank: I'm not lying to you, Cal.

    Frankly, I think you're still bitter about my calling out the unclothed emperor with regard to the anti-choice movement. But that's only a guess.

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  9. "Clearly some people think this is an opportune moment to level the perfectly true criticism that the American right's rhetoric is too inflammatory."

    Translation: you don't have the honesty or consistency to call out bad behavior on your side. We already knew that, but thanks for the reinforcement.

    "And yes I get that in your world Keith Olbermann is exactly as inflammatory and insane as Glenn Beck, but in the real world he isn't."

    In the real world, he's worse. If you weren't a partisan liar, you'd admit that. I'm not interested in pretending you don't already know this, but for good measure: http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2011/01/24/worst-worst-look-back-keith-olbermanns-most-outrageous-quotes

    Tell me, were you asleep when Obama called Alan Grayson an "outstanding member of Congress"? When Chris Matthews, Keith Ellison, Dick Durbin, and Robert Byrd compared Republicans to Nazis? When Democrat leaders including Terry McAuliffe and Jimmy Carter endorsed Michael Moore?

    "Your constantly accusing me of lying is getting old, too."

    I'll quit saying it when you quit doing it. I'm not going to pretend to believe something we both know isn't true. I've caught you being dishonest too many times, Feldstein. The proposition that you're honest simply isn't plausible.

    "I think you're still bitter about my calling out the unclothed emperor with regard to the anti-choice movement."

    Oh, this?

    http://rightcal.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/how-not-to-argue-abortion/

    Nah, that was too insipid and transparent to be worth much anger. When you conjure up nonsense designed to divert attention away from your arguing like crap on the issue, I laugh, not cry.

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  10. I should know better. Discussion is impossible with you. You remind me a lot of Pete (may they get his meds right one day).

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  11. I like how your empty declarations of superior reasonableness have no relation whatsoever to whether or not you're actually winning a debate.

    You haven't refuted one word I wrote or engaged a single scrap of evidence I've presented, yet you simply pretend the world is as you want it to be and hope nobody notices that the emperor has no clothes. Nice.

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  12. Right wing rhetoric exemplified by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachman, Rush Limbaugh and a host of other media and politicos IS inflammatory and dangerous and irresponsible. It HAS inspired people to violence. And it IS beyond what is being done by left-leaning media personalities and politicians.

    And while it seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with the events in Tucson, it does seem an understandable moment for people to state the obvious.

    I'm not really all that interested in answering your every protest to the contrary. I just wanted to make sure that you weren't misrepresenting me without being set right. Now you have.

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  13. The comfort with which your conscience allows you to be knowingly and deliberately dishonest never ceases to amaze me. Here's another bit of Democrat hate speech for you to pretend never happened:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/dem-congressman-gop-won-2010-because-lot-people-united-states-don-t-want-be-governed-african-a

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