Political Philosophy, Politics

The Real Climate Of Hate Behind The Giffords Assassination Attempt

The attempted assassination of Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona at a Tuscon supermarket was a horrendous act committed by a madman. Rep. Giffords was fortunate to have survived, having been shot in the head. Had she perished in the attack, she would have been the first member of Congress killed in office since Rep. Leo Ryan was gunned down in French Guyana in 1978. Fortunately, in the United States political assassinations are rare.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)

This horrific attack was bad enough. But making things worse was the reaction of some on the left. Within minutes of the attack, Markos Moulitsas, the left-wing pitbull and proprietor of the left-wing fever swamp The Daily Kos instantly blamed the attack on Sarah Palin. One would think that by now Mr. Moulitsas would know better that to unleash his inner ghoul, but that appears to be giving him too much credit. But he wasn’t alone. Even as it became clear that the shooter was not a member of the Tea Party or a fan of Sarah Palin, the media consensus was clear: the real cause of the shooting was not a deranged madman, but a supposed “climate of hate” from the right.

But the facts tell a different story. Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter behind the attack, was not a member of the Tea Party or a fan of Sarah Palin. He wasn’t part of the right. In fact, it appears that he was a conspiracy theorist and a nutcase who left a trial of online ramblings about mind control through English grammar. Trying to use him as a political prop to bash on the right is simply disingenuous, and does a gave disservice to the innocents who lost their lives in Loughner’s craven murder.

The Climate of Hate Behind “The Climate of Hate”

It’s hardly surprising that partisan attack dogs would try to make political hay out of the Tucson murders. But it isn’t just the left-wing fever swamps who tried to smear their political opponents: a veteran Democratic operative was quoted by The Politico as wanting to associate the Tea Party with the attacks. The Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik wasted no time in blaming political “vitriol” for the shooting. The mainstream media has joined in the chorus, accusing the right of a blood libel in the shooting.

The totalitarian temptation of the left is on full display here: their instant reaction was to blame the right and call for restrictions on the political speech of those they don’t like. For them, it isn’t relevant that Loughner was not part of the right, and this shooting had little if anything to do with immigration, or Sarah Palin, or Fox News. They have seized upon an opportunity to demonize their political opponents, and tacitly accuse them of all manner of heinous crimes.

There is great irony in complaining about a climate of hate while fostering such a climate oneself. And that is precisely what the left is doing by using this terrible event as an excuse for pushing their pet causes.

This weekend, a federal judge was gunned down by a lunatic. A 9-year-old girl, born on September 11, 2001, was murdered by a crazed fool. A Congressional aide was killed at a campaign stop by an unhinged nut. Instead of concentrating on the facts and remembering those who died, the left has cynically turned this tragedy into yet another excuse to have a political shouting match.

There is a climate of hate in this country. It’s the hate of those who would use events like these as nothing more than another attempt to flaunt their ideological self-superiority. It is the hate of those who would use a horrific murder as an excuse to clamp down on political dissent. It is the hate of those who see conventional political rhetoric as a dangerous threat to society—unless it is used by their side, of course.

Rep. Giffords is fortunate to have survived this attack, and with luck she will make a full recovery. The murderer has been apprehended, and will pay for his crimes. But what this shooting has told us is that there are altogether too many people willing to use this tragedy as a blood libel against their political opposition. If they wish to argue that a “climate of hate” led to this shooting, perhaps they should consider the climate they are creating.

International Relations, War On Terror

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in an apparent suicide bombing today.

UPDATE: Pajamas Media has a roundup of links on the assassination. On CNN, Peter Bergin is speculating that there was likely some involvement with the Pakistani military due to the assassination happening in Rawalpindi. Previous assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf had involved low-level members of the military.

CNN is reporting that Bhutto’s husband said that she was shot in the neck before the suicide bomber blew himself up. There have been conflicting reports over whether Bhutto died from bullet wounds or shrapnel from the blast.

UPDATE: Some quick reactions: This could plunge Pakistan into civil war. Bhutto had some following with members of the Pakistani upper class who were sick of Musharraf and wanted to see Pakistan move towards democracy. With Bhutto assassinated, everything is in doubt. On the good side, perhaps this will unite the Pakistani people against al-Qaeda and the extremists in their own midst. This may force Musharraf to move harder against the extremists, especially along the lawless Pakistan/Afghan border.

For America, these events remind us that we can’t simply withdraw behind our borders. This is no time for isolationism, nor is it a time for a foreign policy based on naïvete. The brewing crisis in Pakistan could easily become a nightmare scenario for the world—if Pakistan’s nuclear weapons fall into the hands of Islamic extremists, it would be disastrous for the region and for the world.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden has more links and insights on the fallout of Bhutto’s assassination. He suspects that this assassination was a collaborative act between al-Qaeda and Taliban linked jihadis and the Pakistani military. We would like to draw a line between the two, but Pakistani government and military is rife with radical Islamists. That line simply cannot be so cleanly made.

We have far more questions than we do answers, and the lack of answers is making a bad situation even worse. If Pakistan falls into civil war, we had better be prepared to take Pakistan’s nukes out of the equation or the results could be too terrible to countenance.