Friday, January 14, 2011

The Lie That Will Not Die

Mark Twain is reputed to have said "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

There's some solid wisdom in that statement, and the aftermath of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords tragic encounter with a madman that left six people dead, is testament to that wisdom.

While the location was still an active crime scene, and before anything was known of the suspected shooter, pundits and much of the media had already determined that the cause of this tragic incident was "incivility in our political discourse". The local sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, using nothing but his own opinion as a basis, claimed that Arizona had become a "Mecca for racism and bigotry".

On the very afternoon of the shooting, Sheriff Dupnik, kicked off the despicable process of blame and character assassination that has continued to this day:
“Let me say one thing, because people tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that,” the sheriff said during a press conference. “That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”

During an interview earlier in the day that aired on MSNBC via local NBC affiliate KPNX, Dupnik declared that “it’s time that this country take a little introspective look at the crap that comes out on radio and TV.”
From there, the loathsome extrapolation game was afoot, and the sun had not yet even set on the horrific shootings. On the afternoon of January 8, mere hours after the incident (3:22 PM Eastern) , New York Times Columnist, Paul Krugman wrote:
We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.

Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.

You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.

On January 8, while the sun still stood tall in the Arizona sky, Sheriff Dupnik opines his state to to be a "Mecca for racism and bigotry", and all but accuses "the crap that comes out on radio and TV" for the incident by saying “That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”

Meanwhile, almost simultaneously, Nobel Prize Laureate Paul Krugman seals the deal by indicting, trying and convicting a nebulous "climate" and "rhetoric" for the murders and all but names Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as co-conspirators. He does so in a scant three paragraphs of sanctimony prefaced by "We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was."

If we have learned anything about the events of January 8, it's that the now-established narrative of "uncivil discourse" as being even a contributing factor in this crime is patently FALSE.

The more that we learn of Jared Loughner, the more we see that he's a disturbed, delusional individual who was apolitical (in the way rational people understand politics), didn't watch TV or listen to the radio. He seemed to be a reader, who says that one of his favorite books is "The Communist Manifesto". Loughner appears to be a 22 year-old lump who had trouble getting and holding a job, displayed bizarre behavior and incoherent thought patterns. He had numerous encounters with law enforcement and seems to have been given some leeway by, you guessed it, Sheriff Dupnik, since his mother is a Pima County employee.

There is absolutely nothing in this kid's background to suggest that he was influenced by political rhetoric. In fact, it seems increasingly doubtful that he even exposed himself to it.

The upshot of the last week is that the tenor of political rhetoric, on the Right, has become unjustifiably, yet inexorably linked to the wanton murders of six innocent people, including a nine year-old girl. It will forever be an ancillary to this monstrous deed, based solely on conjecture, opinion, and outright fantasy. Rhetoric had no more to do with this crime than crowded freeways or the oil spill in Louisiana.

Is this not the height of irresponsibility; the very type of irresponsible, inflammatory, and over-the-top "discourse" about which the Leftist commentariat so piously now preaches? The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

While civility is a worthy aspiration, civility in political discourse is, and has been, the exception rather than the rule. This subject, however, can be discussed on another day and not as a component of a mass muder.

Six people are dead and 14 others are fighting for their lives. Let us not use this tragedy as a forum for sleezy innuendo and cynical political gain. This isn't about politics; it's about loss. Those who cannot see this simple truth are as pitiable as they are contemptable.

No comments: