Even though the Tucson shooter was mentally unbalanced, did not listen to talk radio or Fox News, and liked The Communist Manifesto, several liberal lawmakers, and liberal media like the New York Times, immediately insinuated that his actions resulted from an “atmosphere of hate” or “climate of hate” created by conservatives.
Now, after baselessly accusing conservatives of complicity in murder, they are suddenly calling for “civility.” But this demand has little to do with civility as most Americans would define it. By “incivility” they simply mean disagreement with liberal policies. Liberal newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post recently made this point all too clear by selecting the most divisive and hateful left-wing figures possible to deliver hypocritical lectures about the need for “civility.”
On January 11, the New York Times selected former Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), who earlier called for the death of Florida Governor Rick Scott, to give Americans a lecture about the need for “civility” and an end to “violent confrontation” in a negative “political climate” (negative for Kanjorski, because the veteran Congressman lost his race for reelection in 2010). Last October, Kanjorski said of Scott, “they ought to put him against a wall and shoot him.”
On January 13, the Washington Post featured an editorial about the need for more civility, written by demagogue Al Sharpton. What are Sharpton’s credentials for this coveted slot? He helped incite a race-riot that killed 7 people. And he was found guilty of libel for falsely accusing a prosecutor of being a rapist — just one of the wildly false allegations Sharpton made in the course of his involvement in an infamous hate-crime hoax, the Tawana Brawley case. Sharpton has never apologized for these calumnies.
In his editorial for the Post, Sharpton hints that the shootings might have been influenced by an ugly “climate in our public discourse.” He decries the “dangers of inflammatory rhetoric” even as he whines that his own heated past rhetoric (such as referring to a “white interloper”) had allegedly been “distorted” by critics. (Sharpton, who has denounced Jews as “diamond merchants,” helped incite the 1995 Freddie’s Fashion Mart Riot that killed 7 people at a Jewish-run store in Manhattan.)
This crass exercise in self-promotion earned him kudos from the Post’s Jonathan Capehart, who ludicrously admonishes Sarah Palin to follow the example of Sharpton, who Capehart reveres as if he were a wise elder statesman. Civility, it seems, is trumped by racial solidarity and ideology at the Post.
What “civility” really means at the Post is fleshed out in the columns accompanying Sharpton’s, like the editorial written by E.J. Dionne, who perennially attacks Republicans for alleged incivility, and earlier approvingly cited the President’s “call to civility.” Dionne insinuates that opponents of gun control are collectively guilty of subversion, nativism, and birtherism, writing that “The descriptions of President Obama as a ‘tyrant,’ the intimations that he is ‘alien’ and the suggestions that his presidency is illegitimate are essential to the core rationale for resisting any restrictions on firearms.” (There is little basis for this claim.) To Dionne, incivility is synonymous with a conservative position on guns – and “even responsible conservatives” must accept some responsibility for curbing such “violent” views.
What enforcing civility means to the New York Times is made equally clear: adhering to liberal views, and holding conservatives collectively liable for the Arizona shootings. Praising the President’s call for civility, the Times once again blames those “whose partisanship has been excessive and whose words have sown the most division and dread. This page and many others have identified those voices and called on them to stop demonizing their political opponents.” The identification it is referring to was its Monday editorial, in which the Times insinuated that Republicans, Tea Party members, and conservative media had caused the shootings, although not “directly.”
The Times claimed that the shooter was “ very much a part of a widespread squall of fear, anger and intolerance that has . . . infected the political mainstream with violent imagery,“ and that “it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger” that has set the “nation on edge” by “demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is . . . the enemy of the people.” (Never mind that America’s political climate is mild and bland by historical and international standards. Or that assassinations were more common back when liberal networks had greater market share.)
That the recent calls for civility are about ideological gain, not avoiding violent rhetoric, is illustrated by recent articles in publications like Slate. There, Jacob Weisberg once again smears conservatives and libertarians by claiming that the Tea Party and conservative populism “made the Giffords shooting more likely,” by questioning government authority in areas such as Obamacare: “At the core of the far right’s culpability is its” support for “ the dangerous idea that the federal government lacks valid authority” in areas like “health care reform.” “It is this, rather than violent rhetoric per se, that is the most dangerous aspect of right-wing extremism.”
Never mind that the government’s legitimacy is based on, and enhanced by, its willingness to respect constitutional limits, which include limits on federal power – something recognized by the highly-respected judge slain in Tucson, John Roll, whose most famous ruling struck down portions of a federal law, the Brady Act, as a violation of the Tenth Amendment.
Never mind that critics of the law’s constitutionality include well-respected people like James Blumstein, a professor of constitutional and health care law who was a key adviser to Tennessee’s outgoing moderate Democratic governor.
Weisberg’s smear is echoed more politely in a newspaper op-ed arguing that “the real problem with today’s political discourse” is “not the language of violence,” but “the notion . . that an incremental change in the way health care is delivered” through Obamacare “is a plot to deprive Americans of their freedom.” (The op-ed admits the obvious: that the map on Palin’s web site with a gun sight was just a harmless metaphor, not violent rhetoric that would incite anyone to commit a crime.) Never mind that a respected federal judge struck down Obamacare’s individual mandate as unconstitutional, or the fact that Obamacare violates individual freedoms in several ways, such as containing racial preferences that were criticized by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
It’s not surprising that liberal commentators would seek to redefine civility in terms of ideology, rather than violent language or metaphors. It’s not as if conservatives have a monopoly on violent metaphors. As the president himself has said:
“They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
A GOP victory would mean “hand to hand combat”
“Get in Their Faces!”
“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
“Hit Back Twice As Hard”
“We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“
“It’s time to Fight for it.”
“Punish your enemies”
“I’m itching for a fight.”
And violent imagery is hardly unknown among hardcore liberals. Plenty of examples can be found at the Climate of Hate Blog. Here are some additional examples:
“Save mother Earth Kill Bush”
“Prepare for war”
“I hope Glenn Beck kills himself”
“Bush is the disease Death is the cure”
“I’m here to kill Bush”
“Abort Sarah Palin”
“Bush is the only dope worth shooting”
“Death to extremist Christian Terrorist pig Bush”
“Death to world #1 terrorist pig Bush & his sheep”
“Smite Bush for he is an abomination upon the Earth”
“Lee Harvey, where are you?”