January 11, 2011
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat and friend of Giffords, kicked off the campaign Saturday with this excoriation.
“I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are—how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.”
Dupnik later narrowed it to some “people in the radio business and some people in the TV business.” Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell narrowed it further to Fox News, the home of Glenn Beck.
Elements on the left are now connecting the dots—the words of Palin and Fox News—to the deeds of accused mass murderer Jared Loughner.
This is not political hardball. This is political dirt ball.
Do any such dots exist in reality? Or only in the embittered minds and malevolent motives of those unreconciled to the defeat they suffered on Nov. 2?
Undeniably, political rhetoric is hotter than it has been since the 1960s and ought to be dialed down. But Barack Obama, talking tough in 2008 about how he would deal with Republican attacks, himself said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. … Folks in Philly like a good brawl.”
In 2010, Obama called on Hispanics to join him and “punish our enemies.” Harry Reid in 2009 called Tea Party critics “evil-mongers” who disrupt town-hall meetings with “lies, innuendo and rumors.”
It is easy for journalists to imply or impute a causal connection between hot words and horrible acts. Simply twin the two in a story, or ask an interviewee if he thinks these words and those deeds are not connected. And then let the public imagination do the rest.
As of today, there is not a shred of evidence of any connection between what Sarah Palin or Fox News said and what Jared Loughner did. From the evidence, Loughner had his first and perhaps his only encounter with Giffords in 2007, a year before Palin ever came to national attention as the running mate of John McCain.
The man charged with this awful atrocity is Jared Loughner.
Our country would be better served if, instead of accusing each other of moral culpability for these crimes, politicians and media joined to demand that Loughner be denied the fame (or infamy) he sought, and that he receive the same swift justice as Giuseppe Zangara.