Last week’s mass murder at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s meet-up with her Arizona constituents was immediately politicized by progressive politicians and media figures. But it’s wrong to see this as an unusual event. It’s the way things are always done when progressives have any power to reach the public: everything is political. And President Obama is doing his very best to take advantage of the situation.
The politicization of all things is a tactic derived from the foundations of the progressive mentality and in fact necessitated by it. Progressivism assumes that all things should be made fully subject to the rule of experts. In the present case, an atrocity has been used as the pretext for arguing that progressives should be given even greater and more explicit control over what people can say in public, by giving the federal government additional power over the media.
That’s what this really has been about. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman started the ball rolling by asserting that “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.”
This is in fact a notion that the progressives have offered with increasing boldness, indeed shamelessness, over the past few decades, and not only in op-eds and editorials but also in allegedly scientific studies (frequently, in fact) and in movies and TV shows. Soon after Krugman made his fatuous and contemptible assertion, the deluge came.
The hypocrisy of this campaign of vilification is obvious. One remembers the explicit calls among progressives for the assassination of President George W. Bush, and this very week countless people tweeted their desire that conservative political figure Sarah Palin be murdered. This sort of demonization of one’s enemies is not the exclusive property of any political position, but as the present instance demonstrates with charming vividness, it is the progressive movement that practices it most shamelessly.
Most sensible people surely saw from the start that the killer, Jared Lee Loughner, was not just a Rush Limbaugh listener, if at all. In the days since the attack, the evidence has mounted, suggesting he was likely suffering from a serious mental illness, probably schizophrenia. On Tuesday, in a poignant story from the Associated Press, a neighbor of Loughner was quoted as observing strange behavior by him as a child:
Linda McKinley, 62, has lived down the street from the Loughner family for decades and said the parents could not be nicer — but that she had misgivings about Jared as he got older.
“As a parent, my heart aches for them,” she said.
She added that when she was outside watering her plants she would see Jared riding down the street on his bike, often talking to himself or yelling out randomly to no one.
McKinley recalled that once he yelled to some children on the street: “I’m coming to get you!”
At that point, at least, the media attacks by the progressive left should have abated. They did not, because the actual cause of the attacks was never the point. Muzzling all opposition to the progressive agenda was the sole intent of the crusade. Thus the assault against the right intensified even as more evidence arose to characterize the attack as motivated by Loughner’s personal demons, such as the observations of the prominent psychiatrist Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, who pointed out that the particular type of mass killing Loughner committed is characteristic of certain kinds of schizophrenia and typically has nothing to do with the political climate.
Additional direct evidence of instability on Loughner’s part was provided by revelations of his scary postings on online gamer sites and the fears expressed by students and faculty at Pima Community College when he attended classes on the campus last year. Yet the progressive commentariat and its political satraps were unwilling to allow this crisis to go to waste, intensifying their campaign to turn it to their political advantage.
Indeed, one of the few really slick and skillful uses of the murders to tar the right was that of President Obama, in his speech at Wednesday night’s memorial service and political pep rally. Obama merits praise for injecting some much-needed dignity into the proceedings and explicitly calling for an end to the political blame game:
Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy.
The main thrust of his speech, however, confirmed the progressives’ take on the situation: that it was about what people can and should be allowed to say in public. “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should,” the president said, “let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”
One presumes that he was not referring to his own widely documented use of martial metaphors and gangster talk when referring to his political opponents, and given that the whole “climate of hate” bugbear is a progressive trope, it’s clear enough to whom he was referring. In the context of the past week’s unjustified, blanket attacks against the political right, the president’s statement that “what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another” was in fact darkly comic.