Shameful: why blaming politics for the Giffords shooting is indefensible, reprehensible, and dishonors the dead

I tend to be an even-tempered guy but I’m losing patience with the attempt by many folks to blame “right-wing politics and politicians” for the Tucson attack.

Quite simply, I find this attempt indefensible and yes, reprehensible, because it dishonors the dead.

When I heard about the news of the Tucson shooting, my first reaction was to pray for the victims.

That’s still my single and sole reaction.

That’s not how other people reacted, however:

“Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin,” tweeted Daily Kos founder Mark Moulistas after the shooting — in a comment that received significant criticism from conservative activists.

And NOW president Terry O’Neill, the head of the pro-abortion women’s group, blamed “extreme right-wing opponents” just hours after the tragic shooting and called for a Justice Department investigation “to the fullest extent of federal anti-terrorist legislation” to determine whether the shooting was “part of a conspiracy.”

… Keith Olbermann [said], “If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bullseye targets on 20 representatives including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics, she must be dismissed from politics.”

… Back on Twitter, the conversation has turned towards blaming pro-life advocates for the shooting.

“Who wants to bet whether or not the scumbag that shot 18 people in Arizona was ‘pro-life,’” numerous Twitter users re-tweeted, adding that pro-life people are supposedly “hypocrites.” [LifeNews]

The twitter account for Catholic Democrats played into this theme:

“Kudos to Sheriff Clarence Dupnik for calling out the irresponsible rhetoric that often leads to violent actions.” [source]

All these events happened during Dem administrations bc part of rhetoric on far right is to foment fear and to de-legitimize Dem presidents [source]

In other words, many people, while the bodies of the victims are still warm, are up in arms saying that the choice of words used by some public figures is responsible for this act of violence. My words don’t often fail me, but they almost fail in the face of this charge.

Allow me to articulate why this charge is so blatantly false. I’ll start by borrowing words from Victor Hanson:

Apparently, we are supposed to believe that Loughner’s unhinged rants about the “government” indict those who express reasonable reservations about the size of government as veritable accessories to mass murder. The three worst offenders were Paul Daly of the New York Daily News, who claimed just that in an essay with the raging headline “The blood of Congresswoman Giffords was on Sarah Palin’s hands”; the ubiquitous Paul Krugman, who connected Loughner to the supposedly Republican-created “climate of hate”; and Andrew Sullivan, who thought he saw yet another avenue through which to further his own blind antipathy toward Sarah Palin and “the Palin forces.” In their warped syllogism, the Tea Party unquestionably creates hatred; a congresswomen was shot out of hatred; ergo, the Tea Party and/or the Republican party all but pulled the trigger.

There is a dumbfounding double-standard employed by these characters named above when they attack “the right” for causing isolated acts of crazed violence.

In the aftermath of the Ft. Hood incident, for instance, the New York Times editorialized that it is “important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”

Yet today the New York Times editorialized about the Tucson assailant: “it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.”

In other words, in the minds of some, it is only appropriate to create causal connections between crazed murderers and ideology when you believe the crazed murderer shares an ideology you condemn.

When James Lee, the hostage taker at the Discovery Channel, a baby-hating anti-population nut, went on his spree, the left did not disown him. Baby-hating anti-population nuts did not disown his actions. Nor should they. Because their ideology did not force or prompt James Lee to endanger innocent life. James Lee did that.

Our own President fails by the same unreasonable standards the left holds the right to when it comes to rhetoric and choice of metaphor. See for yourself, as Hanson catalogues:

There is much talk that Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” ad pushed Loughner over the edge. But if sloppy use of gun metaphors can drive anyone to shoot congressional representatives, think what we are up against when the president of the United States invokes violent imagery to galvanize his supporters. What are we to make of Obama’s warning of “hand-to-hand combat” if the Republicans take over; or his comment that one of his supporters could “tear [Sean Hannity] up”; or his Untouchables boast that “if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”; or his advice to supporters of his presidential campaign to argue with Republicans and independents and “get in their face”.

Why would a president boast about figuring out “whose ass to kick,” or, in a climate of fear about terrorism, call his opponents “hostage takers”? In a post-9/11 world, is it prudent for the commander-in-chief to say of his political opponents, “Here’s the problem: It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up”? What about, “But you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger”?

In other words, the President uses the precise type of language and rhetoric that they are now demonizing the right for using. To quote Hanson a third and final time: “If crazed gunmen are sadly a periodic characteristic of American culture, so are political vultures who scavenge political capital as they pick through the horrific violence.” If the left is so worried about this sort of rhetoric and imagery, why don’t they take it up with the President?

I’ll add two more silver bullets to my argument that it is irrational (and irresponsible) to claim that the Tucson shooter made the decision to pick up a weapon and fire it at innocent human beings because, say, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin made him do it.

First, Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, holds many views which are typically associated with “the left.” If I wanted to get into the idiotic game of assigning blame for his actions to political ideology, there’s plenty of ways the “guilt” could be assigned to the left. The guilt game in this instance creates an infinite spiral, because under these crazy standards, I could blame violence against “the right” on those who condemn “the right” for heated rhetoric. In other words, I could argue that the left “causes” violence by suggesting that the right causes violence by their choice to employ heated rhetoric and violent imagery. If anything we say is deemed responsible for any kind of crazed violence, everything we say is suspect, when it should not be.

Second, who of us, in their heart of hearts, honestly believes that if every politician in America eschewed any sort of “heated” rhetoric or violent metaphor, America would witness an immediate and universal end to all isolated acts of violence containing political undertones? Who honestly believes a “perfectly calm” mode of public discourse would result in a “perfectly calm” populace that never succumbs to anger or insanity?

Instead of trying to score political points while funeral arrangements are being made, I would invite the left to join me and everyone in praying for these innocent victims. Leave the dead in peace. Have some respect.



  • Pamela

    More from the American right;
    Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 02-26-02
    “Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past – I’m not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble – recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin’s penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an ‘enemy of the people.’ The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, ‘clan liability.’ In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished ‘to the ninth degree': that is, everyone in the offender’s own generation would be killed and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed.”
    – John Derbyshire, National Review, 02-15-01
    “Two things made this country great: White men & Christianity. The degree these two have diminished is in direct proportion to the corruption and fall of the nation. Every problem that has arisen (sic) can be directly traced back to our departure from God’s Law and the disenfranchisement of White men.”
    – State Rep. Don Davis (R-NC), emailed to every member of the North Carolina House and Senate, reported by the Fayetteville Observer, 08-22-01
    ———–Now here me Curious. The real culprit is the media that pits right verses left and has allowed extreme to become mainstream, all for ratings. So we all have a hand in this, and that is what I am saying. Until we the people stop allowing this type of rhetoric to go on, then it will continue and more deaths will likely happen. These politicans left and right are to blame, but I just feel the right is more to blame. Yes, that is my biased. They worked very hard to create exactly this atmosphere in America, and now it has come to be. We have entered the age of the Wrath of Fools, and we now must again exist in an America where the word “assassination” has become all too relevant.

    • Amanda

      Wow Pamela, you have a lot of free time to do this research. I’m guessing you didn’t look for anything that has been said by the left about the right that was inflammatory as well, did you? I always think you should get both sides of the story. Of course with my understanding of Politics…both sides say disgusting things and neither are really for the American people, so I wouldn’t try to make the Left out to be so perfect.

      • Pamela


        It’s not a lot of research, it’s just articles that I have read. Don’t be mad just because I’m calling the right out on their stuff. I just pointed out to you that it’s the left and right. This site doest enough to lambaste the left all of the time. There is no pass for Barcack Obama. He has be thoroughly demonized by the right since the day he won the election and even before. No one is saying the left is perfect. The right is just

        • Amanda

          Pamela, Oh it is articles you have read, I stand corrected, clearly NO ONE ever lies or skews the truth when it comes to articles written by the media. You are also right about the right demonizing President Obama, the left would never do that to a Republican president…oh wait I think they have…and why is that? Because all politicians are out for themselves and not anyone else regardless of whether they are on the “right” or “left”. On a different note, I can give you sites that lambaste the right just as much…if you would like to, you know, balance out your views of both sides.

  • Pamela

    The American Right;
    tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus – living fossils – so we will never forget what these people stood for.”
    – Rush Limbaugh, Denver Post, 12-29-95
    “Get rid of the guy. Impeach him, censure him, assassinate him.”
    – Rep. James Hansen (R-UT), talking about President Clinton
    “We’re going to keep building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.”
    – Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Mother Jones, 08-95
    “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.”
    – Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 08-26-02
    “We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.”

    • Francis

      Wow,this is pretty sick stuff.



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