[Freemanlist2] Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel - GLENN HARLAN REYNOLDS
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The American Left takes a lesson from the Israeli McCarthyist Left
– discovers the blood libel:
The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel
Those who purport to care about the tenor of political discourse don't
help civil debate when they seize on any pretext to call their
political opponents accomplices to murder.
By GLENN HARLAN REYNOLDS
Shortly after November's electoral defeat for the Democrats, pollster
Mark Penn appeared on Chris Matthews's TV show and remarked that what
President Obama needed to reconnect with the American people was
another Oklahoma City bombing. To judge from the reaction to
Saturday's tragic shootings in Arizona, many on the left (and in the
press) agree, and for a while hoped that Jared Lee Loughner's killing
spree might fill the bill.
With only the barest outline of events available, pundits and
reporters seemed to agree that the massacre had to be the fault of the
tea party movement in general, and of Sarah Palin in particular. Why?
Because they had created, in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's
words, a "climate of hate."
Pima County, AZ Sheriff Clarence Dupnik held a press conference during
which he blamed vitriolic political rhetoric for provoking the
mentally unstable, and lamented Arizona's becoming the "mecca of
prejudice and bigotry." Video courtesy of AFP.
The critics were a bit short on particulars as to what that meant.
Mrs. Palin has used some martial metaphors—"lock and load"—and talked
about "targeting" opponents. But as media writer Howard Kurtz noted in
The Daily Beast, such metaphors are common in politics. Palin critic
Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep.
Gabrielle Giffords's district on a list of congressional districts
"bullseyed" for primary challenges. When Democrats use language like
this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama's famous remark, in
Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, "If they bring a knife to the
fight, we bring a gun"—it's just evidence of high spirits, apparently.
But if Republicans do it, it somehow creates a climate of hate.
There's a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn't derive
from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and
the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.
Jared Lee Loughner, the man suspected of a shooting spree that killed
a Federal Judge and critically wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle
Giffords, had left a trail of online videos in which he railed against
the government. WSJ's Neil Hickey reports.
American journalists know how to be exquisitely sensitive when they
want to be. As the Washington Examiner's Byron York pointed out on
Sunday, after Major Nidal Hasan shot up Fort Hood while shouting
"Allahu Akhbar!" the press was full of cautions about not drawing
premature conclusions about a connection to Islamist terrorism.
"Where," asked Mr. York, "was that caution after the shootings in
Set aside as inconvenient, apparently. There was no waiting for the
facts on Saturday. Likewise, last May New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
and CBS anchor Katie Couric speculated, without any evidence, that the
Times Square bomber might be a tea partier upset with the ObamaCare
So as the usual talking heads begin their "have you no decency?"
routine aimed at talk radio and Republican politicians, perhaps we
should turn the question around. Where is the decency in blood libel?
To paraphrase Justice Cardozo ("proof of negligence in the air, so to
speak, will not do"), there is no such thing as responsibility in the
air. Those who try to connect Sarah Palin and other political figures
with whom they disagree to the shootings in Arizona use attacks on
"rhetoric" and a "climate of hate" to obscure their own dishonesty in
trying to imply responsibility where none exists. But the dishonesty
To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the "rhetoric" of
Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a)
asserting a connection between the "rhetoric" and the shooting, which
based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b)
you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to
score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?
I understand the desperation that Democrats must feel after taking a
historic beating in the midterm elections and seeing the popularity of
ObamaCare plummet while voters flee the party in droves. But those who
purport to care about the health of our political community
demonstrate precious little actual concern for America's political
well-being when they seize on any pretext, however flimsy, to call
their political opponents accomplices to murder.
Where is the decency in that?
Mr. Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee. He
hosts "InstaVision" on PJTV.
Israeli anti-democratic leftists joining the chorus:
The writer, Orly Azoulay, is the wife of Tel Aviv University extremist
anti-Israel professor Adi Ophir. Azoulay attempted to build an
academic career out of producing anti-Israel propaganda collections of
photographs. See this piece on the defaming duo:
“Just like before the Rabin murder, the writing was on the wall before
the Arizona massacre as well. Nobody spoke about the gun explicitly
and nobody called for squeezing the trigger, yet the music on the
political scene played like an invitation to murder.”
By the way, the following is a quote from a NY Times story concerning
Giffords and it is not a spoof: “"When I volunteered at her
campaign," Ms. Shenkarow continued, "there were people from all
denominations, including a guy dressed in drag." Rabbi Stephanie
Aaron, the leader of Congregation Chaverim, has been Ms. Giffords's
friend and spiritual adviser.
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