“Conservatives” deny “personal responsibility” in Tucson massacre

The right-wing chattering and blogging classes are squealing with unanimous denial that Jared Loughner was influenced by their recent effluence of ultra-bellicose thunder. Timothy P. Carney on the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog takes issue with Paul Krugman‘s sensible call in the New York Times (“Climate of Hate,” Jan. 9) for partisans to refrain from “eliminationist rhetoric.” Writes Carney:

Krugman’s claims are utterly divorced from the facts: Jared Loughner’s beef with Rep. Giffords was that she couldn’t answer his incoherent question once in 2007; and no one has found the words Obama, health-care, deficit, or taxes in Loughner’s insane screeds.

Oh stop! Loughner appears none too stable, but neither does he appear psychotic. Are those who will be pushed over the edge by extremist rhetoric likely to be happy, well-adjusted types? Evangelical Timothy Dalrymplee on his Patheos blog took a similar shot at Krugman, writing “Loughner Belongs to the Insane Party.” Talk about denial! Loughner may not be an ideologue like Timothy McVeigh, but neither is he a total wackjob like John Hinckley Jr. He seems quite likely, in a muddle-headed way, to have been influenced by the gun rhetoric. Carney continues:

But the creepiest part of Krugman’s column for me is his use of the word “eliminationist”… [W]hat was Krugman talking about? He doesn’t point to any examples of Republicans wanting to rid the world of Democrats, or even silence them.

Oh just stop! Stop! Have you been living in a cave in the Himalayas without Internet access for the past year?

And I don’t care how this gets painted by the mainstream media. I don’t care if this shows up on YouTube, because I am convinced that the most important thing the founding fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will. I’ve never in my life thought that the day would come where I would tell individual citizens that you are responsible for being the militia that the founding fathers designed – they were very specific. You need to be prepared to fight tyranny: whether it comes from outside or it comes from inside.

—conservative radio host Joyce Kaufman at a Tea Party rally last summer (MediaLite, Jan. 10)

You know, our Founding Fathers put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies, and saying ‘My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?’ And I’ll tell you, the first thing we have to do is take Harry Reid out.

—Sharron Angle on the campaign trail against Reid in Nevada last January (Rachel Maddow Show, June 17, 2010)

Don’t Retreat, instead—RELOAD!

—Sarah Palin tweet after the healthcare reform vote (Examiner.com, Jan. 10)

The anarchist firebrand Emma Goldman had the unflinching fortitude not to disavow Leon Czolgosz after he assassinated President William McKinely in 1901, juiced up on Emma’s oratory. These contemporary “conservatives” are showing not an ounce of moral courage or intellectual honesty in the aftermath of the Tucson massacre. So much for all their prattle about “personal responsibility.”

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  1. Jared Loughner: right-wing extremist
    The case is starting to look better and better, despite the best of efforts to deny the obvious. Matt Coker writes for OC Weekly:

    The media has portrayed alleged Arizona rampage shooter Jared Loughner as holding such politically jumbled views—his top three grievances center on government mind control, returning to the Gold Standard and political correctness—that it is impossible to find any Left or Right direction in him.

    Another one to file under “Huh?” While “government mind control” may be an obsession of the paranoid left and paranoid right alike, the gold standard and political correctness are exclusively bugaboos of the right. Coker does link to a “televised conversation between conservatives espousing similar views. Who are today’s mystery guests? None other than anti-P.C., return-to-gold pusher Glenn Beck and his congressional doppelgänger, Representative Dana Rohrabacher…”

    A particularly telling angle is provided by Alex Pasternack on MotherBoard:

    His interest in “conscience dreaming” points to the influence of David Icke, the British conspiracy theorist who says the world is controlled by a race of reptilian aliens, and urges “conscious dreaming” as a way of stepping out of our Matrix-like existence.

    The clearly mistaken reference to “conscience dreaming” came from Loughner’s MySpace page. He obviously meant “conscious dreaming,” which indeed has long been an obsession of David Icke, one of the wackiest nodes of the right-wing wack-o-sphere. Less of a conservative than an actual crypto-Nazi, in fact. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center has also picked up on the Icke angle, as right-wing conspiranoid crank Alex Jones fumes on his InfoWars.com. Icke, refering to himself in the third person, also protests this on his own website.

    In his interview with Keith Olbermann, Potok also mentions Loughner’s likely infatuation with David Wynn Miller, a far-right conspiranoid guru who seems to be the source of the accused assassin’s obsession with the government’s use of grammar for mind-control purposes. (Yet another one to file under “Huh?”) Blogger David Weigel likewise picks up on this. Noting that while Loughner’s MySpace page has been taken offline his YouTube channel is still up, Weigel proves some choice samples of the confused young man’s ravings. It doesn’t take a particularly sophisticated ear to hear the echoes of right-wing rhetoric amidst the mere wack-jobbery here:

    [R]eading the United States Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt backed with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!

    Even the insane can have politics—and be influenced by politicians, pundits and professional propagandists. Grow up and deal with it.

  2. It’s mind boggling!
    What really gets me is that they keep mentioning those 2 books, that everyone is required to read in school as proof that he’s an extreme leftist. They conveniently forget his gold tirades, government mind-control rants and various other views that are COMPLETELY based on Glen Beck’s and Right-wing militia groups. I can’t wait until this case starts. He may plead the 5th and never say anything. That would be effing annoying.

    1. Which two books?
      Talisa, which two books do you mean? The ones everyone is mentioning are the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf (with this idiotic revisionism that Hitler was a leftist because he espoused “National Socialism”), but we certainly aren’t required to read those in school…

  3. What kind of people are you?
    What kind of people are you. I watch the news too. I’ve listened to the reports. When I read your blog all I can see is the face of nine year old girl who was killed without her mother around. You sound like one of the people who would blame 9/11 on Bush. You sound like a cornered animal looking for the only thing you can grab on to in order to escape. This isn’t an issue, this is a tragedy and you with you low little group will do whatever you can to bring this nation down. You need to get over yourself and learn how to deal with situations a person instead of pointing fingers like the typical scum of today.

  4. Random observations.
    I’ve noticed on the web that rightists are calling Loughner a “leftist”, that’s right. It seems that as soon as a right-winger shoots anyone the rightists start calling him a leftist as everyone knows American leftists go around killing people all the time (sarcasm). This is damage control really. I think the conservatives fear that people are associating them with, you know, murder. As it is I associate conservatives with the Westboro Baptist Church and this shooter Loughner. I associate them with Bush and permanent warfare. I associate them with guns, NIV bibles and mass murder.

    The closest thing to left-wing extremist group in the US is the Animal Liberation Front…not exactly the Red Army Faction. Do you know that the Weathermen never killed anyone, except themselves because they couldn’t build bombs very well. I believe the Black Liberation Army shot a couple of cops or something. Basically the hardest and most extreme leftist groups I can think of in the US, in its history have never really killed anyone. It’s not as if there are left-wing groups out there with visibility spewing equal amounts of hate as these clowns. No way you can expect the most self-centered, arrogant, hypocritical people on earth to own up to what they have done. The Soviet Union has been gone twenty years and these idiots still think the reds are under their beds, or that they are sleeping in the White House. Maybe its time to realize that “socialism” has been dead for somewhere between twenty to eighty years and that Socialists today are conservative…like Tony Blair and his “Labour Party”. The sort of rhetoric they spew is hopelessly out of touch with the modern world…where there is no USSR and Chinese Communist Party leaders have been enjoying their own capitalism for three decades where they have become the world’s sweatshop. It was conservative American businessmen who saw the Tiannenmen Square massacre and thought that China would be a great place to do business. That massacre was the signal to global capital that China was open for business. Again US conservatives like Nixon “pioneered” our government’s cozy relationship with the Chinese who buy our debt so we can buy lots of their cheap worthless crap.

    In 20 years our government has managed to kill between four to eight million Iraqis. Since the US got Iraq to attack Iran in the first place, our government is responsible for the deaths in the Iran-Iraq War as well. Conservative bi-partisan policies have gotten millions of people killed. This was why Saddam Hussein told the US he wanted to invade Kuwait and sought US govt permission in reward for services rendered by him and his regime. I remember clearly when he was a “bastion of democracy” was friends with the Reagans and Carters and Nixons.

    US government policy consists of these things:
    [1] A consensus of the wealthy in “throwing the poor under the bus”.
    [2] A foreign policy of permanent warfare with the aim of starting WWIII.

    If you look on the US governments own terrorism web page the top two terrorist groups in the US that have committed the largest number of individual terrorist attacks on people are anti-Castro Cuban exile terrorists and the late Rabbi Meir Kahane’s “Jewish Defense League”, that is to say both extreme right-wing groups.

    One note on Leon Czolgocz and Emma Goldman, she never disavowed him, nor did she take any responsibility or show support for his actions. She said openly that he seemed like a troubled young man and that he had little to do with the Anarchist movement. Now if Loughner had been an Anarchist we’d never hear the end of how an Anarchist assassin just shot and killed a bunch of people, but when a rightist does something like this everyone talk horseshit about “extremism” on both sides and that Loughner murdered those people, not because he was a nasty little rightist fuck (the truth) but because he was “disturbed”. Its an insult to mentally ill people everywhere, who are more often than not, victims of violence rather than perpetrators.

    1. In the interests of accuracy…
      We basically agree with your sentiments. However, the Weathermen were apparently responsible for the death of one cop in San Francisco, in addition to the three of their own accidentally blown up in the 1970 Greenwich Village town house incident. (Wikipedia states that law enforcement was “unable to prove conclusively that the organization was involved” in the San Francisco bombing.) Also, the bomb they had been preparing in the townhouse incident was intended to kill attendees at a military social dance at Fort Dix. (It should also be noted that the Weathermen reconsidered the targeting of human beings after the townhouse disaster, precipitating their name change from Weatherman to the Weather Underground. See our commentary on the Bill Ayers flap during the Obama campaign.)

      Also, we question the “eight million Iraqis” figure, although between sanctions and war the US certainly bears responsibility in the deaths of millions of Iraqis. Nobody ever called Saddam Hussein a “bastion of democracy,” although the US did back him in the war with Iran. And it is more accurate to say the US is complicit in rather than “responsible for” the deaths in the Iran-Iraq War. Saddam and Khomeini were certainly willing combatants.

  5. Sarah Palin, Blood-Libel Hypocrite
    It’s an obvious point, but William Saletan makes it well in Salon Jan. 12:

    Sarah Palin is outraged. In a Facebook post this morning, she responds to critics who have suggested that her target map of Democrats, which put a crosshairs-like symbol over the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., may have contributed to the Tucson shooting. Palin writes:

    After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event. President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies…journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

    That’s what Palin believes. Each person is solely accountable for his actions. Acts of monstrous criminality “begin and end with the criminals who commit them.” It’s wrong to hold others of the same nationality, ethnicity, or religion “collectively” responsible for mass murders.

    Unless, of course, you’re talking about Muslims. In that case, Palin is fine with collective blame. In fact, she’s enthusiastic about it. Palin was the first national politician to join the jihad against what she called the “planned mosque at Ground Zero” (which wasn’t a mosque and wasn’t at Ground Zero, but let’s cut her some slack). In her statement, issued six months ago on the same Facebook page where she now denounces collective blame, she wrote this:

    To build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks… I agree with the sister of one of the 9-11 victims (and a New York resident) who said: “This is a place which is 600 feet from where almost 3,000 people were torn to pieces by Islamic extremists. I think that it is incredibly insensitive and audacious really for them to build a mosque, not only on that site, but to do it specifically so that they could be in proximity to where that atrocity happened.”

    The last bit is a falsehood—proximity wasn’t the motive for choosing the site—but again, let’s cut Palin some slack. They key phrase to focus on is “a mosque.” Palin used it twice—once in the quote, and once in her own words—so it can’t be passed off as inadvertent. Her objection wasn’t just to a specific imam or sect, much less to an identifiable terrorist. It was to any Islamic house of worship near Ground Zero.

    Palin has never retracted this position. Indeed, she has persisted in her opposition to any mosque near Ground Zero. Her position is that the act of monstrous criminality on 9/11 doesn’t end with the criminals who committed it. Its stigma extends to any mosque near the site. All Muslims should yield to that stigma. All Muslims are responsible.

  6. MLK Day terror in Spokane narrowly averted
    In a case that were are certain to be told is an isolated incident, not part of a pattern, much less implying any responsibility on the part of the professional media hate-mongers, police in Spokane, Wash., found an improvised explosive device in a backpack left along the Martin Luther King Day parade route. Police brought in a robot and hazmat unit to defuse the device, which they said was intended to cause “multiple casualties.” (Raw Story, Jan. 18)

  7. Conservatives dodge ‘personal responsibility’ —again

    Deja vu all over again…

    Although, we aren't sure about the "not American" part… Alas.

  8. Did NY Times cave to Palin?

    Note that this affair is back in the news, thanks to Sarah Palin’s libel case against the New York Times in federal court in Manhattan. The Times explains it thusly:

    A lot has changed in the country’s political and legal landscape since Ms. Palin, a former Alaska governor, filed her suit in 2017. It alleges that The Times defamed her with an editorial that incorrectly asserted a link between her political rhetoric and a mass shooting near Tucson, Ariz., in 2011 that left six people dead and 14 wounded, including Gabrielle Giffords, then a Democratic member of Congress.

    The editorial was published on June 14, 2017, the same day that a gunman opened fire at a baseball field in Virginia where Republican congressmen were practicing, injuring several people including Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana. The headline was “America’s Lethal Politics,” and the editorial asked whether the Virginia shooting was evidence of how vicious American politics had become.

    As it first appeared, the editorial then argued that “the link to political incitement was clear” between the 2011 Giffords shooting and a map circulated by Ms. Palin’s political action committee that showed 20 congressional districts that Republicans were hoping to pick up. Those districts, including the one held by Ms. Giffords, were displayed under stylized cross hairs. In correcting the editorial, The Times said it had “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting.”

    We want to know on what basis it was determined that the claim of a connection between Palin’s propaganda and the Giffords shooting was deemed to be “incorrect.”

  9. Court dismisses Palin libel suit against New York Times

    Well, Palin’s libel suit has been dismissed by the US federal court for the Southern District of New York, on the basis that she failed to show actual malice in the 2017 editorial. (Jurist) But we continue to be alamed by the Times’ pusillanimous retreat on this question. The now write: “There was no evidence the shooter had seen or was motivated by the map.” OK. Did the editorial assert that there was such evidence? Or did it merely cite the map as an example of “America’s Lethal Politics”? We are now told: “The Times corrected the editorial the morning after it was published after readers pointed out the mistake.” It is not clear to us that there was in fact a “mistake.”