In her statement below Sarah Palin is right to call the accusations directed against her a "blood libel". The original blood libel was the attribution to Jews of murders that they did not commit. She has been held responsible by the hysterical Left for murders she did not commit. The abusive Leftist commentators put themselves in the company of centuries of antisemites. And we know where the hatred that is antisemitism led -- JR
Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy.
I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.
Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.
There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.
Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.
President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.
The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.
Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.
As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.
No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.
Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.
It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.
Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.
America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.
Falsely accusing the Tea Party of murder
Liberal commentators’ rush to blame the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords on heated political rhetoric exposes their censoriousness and intolerance
America was shocked to hear on Saturday about the gunman who shot Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head at her public meeting outside a Safeway supermarket in Tucson. Nineteen others were wounded, six fatally, and as I write Giffords remains in critical condition.
As this sad and tragic event reverberated across America, political commentators sought to find a larger meaning. Even though all the facts weren’t in, a theme quickly emerged: this violent act was the result of a malicious tone in the country’s political discourse. A New York Times headline, ‘Bloodshed puts new focus on vitriol in politics’, summed up the prevalent discussion. Even Clarence Dupnik, the local sheriff in Tucson, was moved to make a broader observation: ‘The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.’ Rhetoric ‘may be free speech’, said Dupnik, ‘but it’s not without consequences’.
Dupnik and others did not identify any one group as the source of the vitriol, but that was really unnecessary: everyone knew that this referred to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Many on the liberal-left felt no compunction to hold back. Before the name of the gunman was revealed, prominent blogger Markos Moulitsas tweeted: ‘Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin.’ Moulitsas also blamed ‘the American Taliban’, thus capitalising on an assassination attempt to get in a plug for his book of that title.
Superficially, the shooting at first seemed it might be a political act that directly implicated the Tea Party. Giffords is a Democrat, and she narrowly retained her seat in November after a heated contest against a Tea Party-backed candidate. When Giffords’ father was asked if she had any enemies, he replied, ‘Yeah, the whole Tea Party’.
Last year, Sarah Palin’s political action committee produced a map that showed a series of contested congressional districts with gun targets trained on them, and Giffords’ was one of them. Even Giffords herself seemed to have warned about violence, when she criticised Palin in March for using such gun-related imagery: ‘We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realise that there’s consequences to that.’
Given these observations, it was understandable for people to start to raise questions. There was obviously a political dimension to the attack, considering it was an attempt to kill an elected representative. But that did not necessarily mean that it was political in content, nor that a certain group could be blamed for it. And as time elapsed and we learned more about the accused gunman, the theory of a political act fell apart.
For it is becoming clear that 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner is a deranged individual, not a political ideologue. He did not espouse Tea Party ideology, nor is there any evidence that he was inspired by Palin. His ramblings on YouTube and MySpace were incoherent nonsense about mind control, grammar and creating a currency. If anything, as many conservatives pointed out, there was as much evidence pointing to Loughner being a disgruntled liberal (no Tea Partier would name The Communist Manifesto as one of his favorite books, said Republican senator Lamar Alexander). It turned out that Moulitsas’ Daily Kos website also had Giffords on a target list with a bullseye, and a liberal constituent on his site declared her ‘dead to me’ - and so Kos moved promptly to pull both pages off the site.
In no way can Palin and the Tea Partiers be held responsible for this senseless act. Some might find Palin’s gun cross-hairs map distasteful, but it is a metaphor not an explicit exhortation for violence. For decades both parties have used military rhetoric to describe their political campaigns. The Democrats recently used maps with bullseyes and missiles on them (see here).
Even if the shooter had been a paid-up member of the Tea Party who declared ‘I did it because I saw Palin’s gun-sight map’, Palin and the Tea Party would not be culpable. Only the person who pulled the trigger is responsible. People are not brainwashed robots taking commands. Just as video games and movies do not cause individuals to undertake acts of violence (despite what ‘media effects theory’ says), politicians’ words do not automatically create killers. Between rhetoric and deed, there is a human being with a brain who makes a particular decision. In the case of Loughner, however, it appears we have a mentally unstable individual who was probably incapable of comprehending a political message, never mind acting on it.
As Loughner’s story emerged over the weekend, it became clear to most liberal commentators that he was a lunatic, not a messenger sent from the Tea Party. Yet that did not stop them from finding the organisation at fault. The front page of today’s Times (London) has a photo of a peace activist in Tucson with a placard saying ‘Hate Speech = Murder’. Gary Younge in the UK Guardian articulated an argument that was rapidly spreading in liberal circles: ‘True, the rampage apparently emerged from his confused, unstable and troubled mind. But it was also the byproduct of a polarised political culture underpinned by increasingly vitriolic, violent and vituperative rhetoric and symbolism…. The connection between this rhetoric and Saturday’s events are not causal but contextual. The shooter was not likely to be acting under direct instructions but in an atmosphere that made such an attack more likely rather than less.’
We see this same formulation repeated over and over: ‘Yes, Loughner may be a deranged individual, but the Tea Party’s violent rhetoric is still to blame.’ Rather than prove causality or influence, this liberal argument posits that such evidence is not necessary, because the danger is inherent in the ‘context’ or the ‘atmosphere’ itself. This approach is even worse than traditional effects theory, which at least has attempted to demonstrate a connection, however dubious, between media and actions. Now, the liberal argument presents a nebulous concept of ‘atmosphere’ with no links between groups or individuals and the sentiments that are assumed to prevail in politics. From this perspective, words somehow create a febrile, unpredictable ambience out of which strange events might mysteriously emerge.
Before Saturday’s assassination attempt on Giffords, the predominant liberal view tagged Tea Party members as gun-toting racists or lunatics. Media reports of Tea Partiers carrying guns or a sole person shouting a racial epithet were claimed to represent the entire movement. In April, former president Bill Clinton indicated that he thought anti-government protesters like the Tea Party were potentially violent. He used the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing to warn that Tea Party-style rhetoric could encourage a repeat.
Essentially, the liberal response to Loughner’s shooting spree was to force-fit it into this pre-existing narrative – even if the facts did not support it. That’s why Moulitsas could, without any evidence, quickly conclude ‘Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin’.
Their calls to silence the Tea Party are anti-democratic. The use of inflammatory language – including military imagery - is not only a long-standing practice used by all parties, but a right that should be defended. The current discussion of the Tea Party erroneously conflates ‘extremism’, ‘anti-government sentiment’ and ‘political passion’ with mindless acts of violence.
Unconfident of winning political debate and fearful of the distant masses, liberal elites are trying to use the Tucson shooting to defeat their opponents with smears rather than intellectual arguments. You don’t have to agree with the Tea Party (and I don’t) to see that it is important to oppose these false accusations of murder.
The Authoritarian Media
The New York Times has crossed a moral line
After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: "In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .," the paper counseled.
Here's how the sentence continued: ". . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East."
One of the first to point an accusatory finger at the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin was the Times's star columnist, Paul Krugman. Less than two hours after the news of the shooting broke, he opined on the Times website: "We don't have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was."
In the column, Krugman blames the massacre on "eliminationist rhetoric," which he defines as "suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary." He rightly asserts that "there isn't any place" for such rhetoric. But he falsely asserts that it is "coming, overwhelmingly, from the right."
But Krugman's assertion that such rhetoric comes "overwhelmingly from the right" is at best wilfully ignorant. National Review's Jay Nordlinger runs down some examples on the left:
Even before [George W.] Bush was elected president, the kill-Bush talk and imagery started. When Governor Bush was delivering his 2000 convention speech, Craig Kilborn, a CBS talk-show host, showed him on the screen with the words "SNIPERS WANTED." Six years later, Bill Maher, the comedian-pundit, was having a conversation with John Kerry. He asked the senator what he had gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry answered that he had taken her to Vermont. Maher said, "You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone." (New Hampshire is an early primary state, of course.) Kerry said, "Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone."
(This is the same Kerry who joked in 1988, "Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they're to shoot Quayle.")
Also in 2006, the New York comptroller, Alan Hevesi, spoke to graduating students at Queens College. He said that his fellow Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, would "put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it."
Much more here
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