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.
By positing a moral equivalence between the original, completely unjustified attacks against the right and the conservatives’ dismayed and defensive response, Obama placed his presidential stamp of approval on the progressives’ hate campaign. The very point of their assault on free speech rights, after all, has been that the political right is uniquely responsible for the creation of a “climate of hate” that leads to violence and murder. That is indeed a libel, and a contemptible one, yet Obama affirmed it by refusing to distinguish between the progressives’ unjustified attacks of the past week and the rhetoric of the right over the past several years. There is a huge and obvious difference between the two, and eliding that difference lets the real offenders, the progressives, off scot-free. It’s exactly what schools do when they punish a peace-loving kid for fighting back against a bully.
Thus in loftily adjuring the public to “make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds,” Obama confirmed the essential purpose of the progressives’ hate campaign: regardless of who may be engaging in hate, we can’t live this way any longer. “Only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation,” he said. Translation: something must be done. Meaning: more power for the federal government.
Thus Obama’s ostensibly irreproachable rhetoric set the agenda for what the progressives really want, and which was the real purpose behind this entire brouhaha: a campaign for even more unconstitutional federal government power over what people can say and write.
When Obama said, “only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation,” the direct meaning of his words was politically neutral, but the only side of the debate that the mainstream media characterize as uncivil and dishonest is everybody to Obama’s right.
That’s the real purpose behind all this concern about hate: an effort to suppress opposition to the progressive agenda, through calculated media attacks and more government regulation. As Fox News and others have reported, numerous progressives are taking advantage of the Arizona attacks to press for federal government regulation of public communications (which just happens to be unconstitutional). According to Fox News:
In the wake of the shooting, the National Hispanic Media Coalition used the incident to reiterate its call for the FCC to update its definitions of hate speech in media. It also asked the FCC to “examine the extent and effects of hate speech in media, and non-regulatory options for counteracting the violence that extreme rhetoric breeds.”
Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., said he has no knowledge about what motivated Loughner to attack Giffords and the others, but he still wants legislation that bans the use of certain imagery when talking about congressional targets.
“I want to eliminate what may have been,” Brady told Fox News. “I’m not a psychologist…. All I’m saying is you can’t put a bull’s eye or a crosshair on a member of Congress.”
[Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)] said that while she’s not up to speed on current regulations, the Federal Communications Commission should work to sanction broadcasts that could incite people to violence.
“No one owns the airwaves,” Slaughter said. “They are owned by the people.”
If lawmakers were to seek remedies to quiet distasteful discussion, the so-called Fairness Doctrine is at the top of lists inspiring supporters and alarming opponents.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., told National Public Radio said he “came up in a time that the Fairness Doctrine did not allow media outlets to say things about a candidate or a person in public office without giving that person equal time to respond. And I really believe that everybody needs to take a look at where we are pushing things, and may need to take a serious step back and evaluate what’s going on here.”
Meanwhile, Obama’s Federal Communications Commission, led by Julius Genachowski, has been greedily lusting after control of the internet through an illegal imposition of net neutrality and by extracting concessions from Comcast and NBC/Universal in trade for FCC approval of the firms’ merger.
What has happened in the past week has been about one thing and one thing only: politics, pure and simple, in pursuit of even greater power for the federal government. There’s nothing the slightest bit unusual about that.