Perhaps the most surprising thing about the American Left’s effort to transform the January 8 Tucson massacre from a tragic attack into an indictment of the American Right is how easily their charges crumbled. Had the so-called “Paper of Record,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other politicians and pundits let Americans mourn this tragic atrocity over that weekend, enough facts about alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner might have emerged to dissuade hyperventilating liberals from climbing so far out onto the thin branch that swiftly snapped right under them.
“We don’t have proof yet that this was political,” writer Paul Krugman admitted, leading the charge of the Left brigade, “but the odds are that it was.” He continued, “Violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”
Asked about the September 11 terrorist attack, Secretary Clinton told a town hall meeting in the United Arab Emirates, “We have extremists in my country.” She added that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, among 19 other innocents, “was just shot by an extremist in our country.”
“If Sarah Palin . . . does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics,” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann roared on the night of the bloodshed, “she must be dismissed from politics.”
Cracks soon ruptured this airtight narrative, and the truth emerged.
Rather than a boiling-mad tea partier, Loughner is a registered independent who didn’t cast a ballot last November, exactly when the Right and Left battled over the future of Obamism. Yet this “extremist” failed even to vote “present.”
One of Loughner’s few friends told ABC’s Ashleigh Banfield that Loughner ignored public affairs.
“He did not watch TV. He disliked the news,” Zach Osler said. “He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right . . . He wasn’t shooting people. He was shooting at the world.”
About two years ago, Loughner’s erratic behavior drove Osler away. The alleged killer of U.S. District Judge John Roll, nine-year-old Christina Green, and four others was not just a mere GOP activist with a few eccentricities. He was so obviously deranged that a former Pima Community College classmate said, “I sit by the door with my purse handy,” so she could flee if he fired.
“What do Chocolate cookies taste like?” he asked friends in an online forum last April, according to the Wall Street Journal’s superb lead story on Wednesday. “Would you hit a Handy Cap Child/Adult?” he wondered. Last May 20, errors and all, he wrote: “I bet your hungry. . . . Because i know how to cut a body open and eat you for more then a week. ;-)” When an online friend suggested he include his work history in his job-search efforts, Loughner replied: “CAN’T HOLD TERMINATION AGAINST FUTURE EMPLOYEE!” — 118 times.
One of Loughner’s YouTube videos features totally disjointed statements in white letters against a black background. “Every human who’s mentally capable is always able to be treasurer of their new currency,” Loughner explains. He continues, “The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”
As if Loughner’s terrifying psychobabble didn’t isolate him from those who could debate politics, it transpired that the Left’s newfound embrace of civil dialogue was at war with its history of rhetorical belligerence. In short, the Left forgot to perform a self-critical hypocrisy screening.
While Palin was excoriated for using crosshairs on a map of candidates — including Giffords — who were “targeted” for defeat, the Democratic Leadership Council and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee both used maps with bull’s-eyes on the districts of “targeted” Republicans.
More amazing, the left-wing Daily Kos website in June 2008 named Representative Giffords on a “target list” of Democrats with vote records it disliked. Daily Kos declared: “Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls eye on their district.”
Precisely the same amount of evidence indicates that the Daily Kos’ “bulls eye” language propelled Loughner as did Palin’s crosshairs graphic: Zero.
Columnist Michelle Malkin’s online retrospective of left-wing hate includes a protest sign featuring a beheaded Pres. George W. Bush, an “Abort Palin” bumper sticker, and an artist’s drawing called “M.I.L.P.” (Mother I’d Like to Punch). Palin gets socked so hard that a tooth flies from her mouth.
While President Obama has displayed admirable restraint and dignity throughout this tragedy, he has not always been so placid.
“I don’t want to quell anger,” Obama said in March 2009. “I think people are right to be angry. I’m angry!”
Referring to Republicans, he urged voters last November to “punish our enemies.” He also told a Philadelphia fundraiser in 2008, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”
Former Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D., Pa.) said about Gov. Rick Scott (R., Florida), “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) starred in a campaign commercial last fall in which he says, “I will take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill,” and then literally fires a rifle shot clean through the legislation.
And none other than Mr. Civility, Paul Krugman, wrote in December 2009: “A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy.” What might that do to someone with an anger-management problem and Lieberman’s home address in Connecticut?
The Left’s assault on the Right backfired so badly that some liberal commentators rode to the Right’s defense.
“Conservatives are furious that the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords is being pinned on them. Their indignation is justified,” wrote Jonathan Chait, senior editor of The New Republic. “This was not a right-wing militia member taking apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric about watering the tree of liberty too seriously. It was a random act.”
Calling this a “sickening ritual of guilt by association,” The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz wrote that Palin’s “use of the crosshairs was dumb.” However, he concluded, “This isn’t about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map; it’s about a lone nutjob who doesn’t value human life.”
Slate editor-at-large Jack Shafer wrote that Jared Loughner appeared not to have been “incited by anything except the gas music from Jupiter playing inside his head.” Shafer continued: “Asking us forever to hold our tongues lest we awake their deeper demons infantilizes and neuters us and makes politicians no safer.”
The American people quickly dismissed this smear. A January 9-10 CBS News survey of 673 adults found that only 32 percent believed that “harsh political rhetoric” had “anything to do with the Arizona shootings;” 57 percent disagreed. Even among Democrats, 42 percent blamed rhetoric; 49 percent disagreed. (Margin of error: +/- 4 percent.)
Thus, the Left’s dramatic, breathless fantasy — wheeled out literally as this calamity’s victims were being wheeled around hospitals and morgues — unraveled almost as soon as the Left raveled it.
When left-wing voices accuse right-wingers of racism or, even worse, inciting mass murder, they should try to deploy two or perhaps even three bullet points (if one still may say that) of supportive evidence. If they choose, yet again, to go off half-cocked (forgive the firearms imagery), they will make total fools of themselves, yet again.
Krugman and company demand civil discourse while perpetrating the supreme incivility of accusing the Right of triggering mass murder while presenting nary an electron of evidence to confirm that claim.
Next time the Left lacks the facts to prove deadly serious charges against the Right, they should do America a favor and leave the homicide card unplayed.
— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.