The Arizona Tragedy

…and the politics of blood libel.

If you really want to elevate civility in public discourse, you could start by not falsely accusing your political opponents of being accomplices to murder. But that’s not really their goal. Their goal is to quash any opposition to their agenda.

[Update a few minutes later]

United in horror:

Violence in American politics tends to bubble up from a world that’s far stranger than any Glenn Beck monologue — a murky landscape where worldviews get cobbled together from a host of baroque conspiracy theories, and where the line between ideological extremism and mental illness gets blurry fast.

This is the world that gave us Oswald and Bremer. More recently, it’s given us figures like James W. von Brunn, the neo-Nazi who opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in 2009, and James Lee, who took hostages at the Discovery Channel last summer to express his displeasure over population growth. These are figures better analyzed by novelists than pundits: as Walter Kirn put it Saturday, they’re “self-anointed knights templar of the collective shadow realm, not secular political actors in extremis.”

This won’t stop partisans from making hay out of Saturday’s tragedy, of course. The Democratic operative who was quoted in Politico saying that his party needs “to deftly pin this on the Tea Partiers” was just stating the obvious: after a political season rife with overheated rhetoric from conservative “revolutionaries,” the attempted murder of a Democratic congresswoman is a potential gift to liberalism.

But if overheated rhetoric and martial imagery really led inexorably to murder, then both parties would belong in the dock. (It took conservative bloggers about five minutes to come up with Democratic campaign materials that employed targets and crosshairs against Republican politicians.) When our politicians and media loudmouths act like fools and zealots, they should be held responsible for being fools and zealots. They shouldn’t be held responsible for the darkness that always waits to swallow up the unstable and the lost.

But expect the liars and demagogues to continue to do it for perceived political gain.

[Update a couple minutes later]

The “Progressive” climate of hate. A ten-year retrospective.

Intern Of The Year

This guy should get a raise:

“When I heard gunshots, my first instinct was to head toward the congresswoman to make sure that she was okay,” Hernandez said in an interview with ABC’s Christine Amanpour Sunday. “Once I saw that she was down, and there were more than one victim, I went ahead and started doing the limited triage that I could with what I had.”

Hernandez, who is 20, told ABC that he simply “shut off all emotion.” “I knew I wouldn’t be good to anyone if I had a breakdown,” he recalled. He noted that he went to help because he had “limited experience in triage and training.”

He lifted up Giffords’ head, because he feared she might choke on her own blood, and used smocks from the grocery store’s meat department as a makeshift bandages for her and other victims.

Giffords, he says, was alert, but couldn’t talk.

“‘Just grab my hand to let me know that you’re okay,'” he recalls telling the injured lawmaker.

According to Hernandez, she squeezed his hand, and he didn’t let go, riding with her in the ambulance to the hospital, where she was rushed into emergency surgery.

“It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots,” he told the Arizona Republic. “But people needed help.”

You never know how you’re going to react to such events, but he definitely performed far above and beyond.

Don’t Just Do Something

Stand there. My thoughts on yesterday’s tragic events, and the predictable reactions to them.

[Update a few minutes later]

“You can almost hear the disappointment on the left that he was a pot head rather than a Tea Partyer.”

“Almost hear” it? Hell, it’s palpable.

[Update later morning]

Two sicknesses on display on Arizona.

[Update a few minutes later]

A colossal failure of journalism. In other words, business as usual.

[Update a couple minutes later]

In defense of inflamed rhetoric:

For as long as I’ve been alive, crosshairs and bull’s-eyes have been an accepted part of the graphical lexicon when it comes to political debates. Such “inflammatory” words as targeting, attacking, destroying, blasting, crushing, burying, knee-capping, and others have similarly guided political thought and action. Not once have the use of these images or words tempted me or anybody else I know to kill. I’ve listened to, read—and even written!—vicious attacks on government without reaching for my gun. I’ve even gotten angry, for goodness’ sake, without coming close to assassinating a politician or a judge.

From what I can tell, I’m not an outlier. Only the tiniest handful of people—most of whom are already behind bars, in psychiatric institutions, or on psycho-meds—can be driven to kill by political whispers or shouts. Asking us to forever hold our tongues lest we awake their deeper demons infantilizes and neuters us and makes politicians no safer.

Well, actually, it may make politicians somewhat safer, but I’m not sure that the safety of politicians should be the highest priority goal. Partly because infantilizing and neutering us is what it’s all about for many politicians and their media enablers.

Overreaction

I think that the Republicans are bending too far over backwards over this:

“All legislation currently scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives next week is being postponed so that we can take whatever actions may be necessary in light of today’s tragedy,” said House majority leader Eric Cantor in a statement.

The House was scheduled to vote on a repeal of Obamacare this week.

What “actions” would those be? Resurrecting her from her sickbed? So, if she’d come down with the flu, or got stuck in a blizzard, they’d postpone a vote for one representative? Of the other party? I hope this pays off politically, because from a precedent and policy standpoint, it’s really dumb. It’s senseless to me to shut down the entire House because it’s missing one out of 435 members.

Best Wishes ToRIPSpeedy Recovery, Rep. Giffords

This is horrible:

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot along with three of her aides by a gunman Saturday morning outside a grocery store in Tucson while holding a public event, Fox News has confirmed.

Twelve others were shot as well at Giffords’ “Your Corner” event held at Safeway. The gunman is in custody.

Sounds like it may have been an assassination attempt. I doubt it was over space policy, though. I hope it’s not as serious as it sounds. I’m kind of surprised that a gunman could shoot twelve people in Tucson without being shot himself — at least when I lived there, over thirty years ago, a lot of people open carried, in holsters.

[Update a couple minutes later]

NPR is no reporting that she was killed, with six others. My deepest condolences to her friends and family. I had deep disagreements with her on policy, and hoped for her electoral defeat, but this should not happen in a republic.

Of course, expect that “violent” Tea Party to be blamed in 3…2…1…

[Update a few more minutes later]

More over at Hot Air. The reporting still seems to be confused, but Fox News has also confirmed that she is dead.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, now Fox is saying alive but in critical condition. I guess we just have to wait a while for the fog of events to clear.

[Update a while later]

Out of surgery and “responsive” (which beats the alternative, I guess). Condolences to friends and family of those who didn’t survive.

The “Highjackers Of Islam”

Who are they, really?

For years, we’ve heard how the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists.

What if it’s the other way around? Worse, what if the peaceful hijackers are losing their bid to take over the religion?

We need to nurture the apostates, but we can’t pretend they aren’t apostates. We are at war with Islam, whether we like it or not. Or to put it another way, we may not be interested in Islam, but Islam is definitely interested in us. And Israel has absolutely nothing to do with it, other than being on the front lines in the war.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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