Once walking down a Wellington alleyway I saw a piece of graffiti which depicted Nandor Tanczos saying "everything you do is political". A similar philosophy has seemed to have gripped some on the political left in a manner that is both inexplicably vile and hypocritical at the same time. Even the Secretary of State claims that the murder was by "an extremist". I'll leave aside thay apparently only the shooting of the Congresswoman is significant here, and that the shooting of a child and several others are hard to connect to any political motive at all - but then it would be inconvenient to even consider that. Malcolm Harbrow doesn't even mention those killed in his own unhinged diatribe of bigotry.
The killer in question is clearly rather disturbed, with possible psychoses. What about his politics? Well as much as can be gleaned from evidence seen so far, it would appear they are as deranged and incoherent as his behaviour. Some on the left have grabbed his hatred of the government, concern for the constitution and embrace of a gold standard as evidence he is a Tea Partier, yet conveniently ignoring his appreciation of The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. Him being an ardent atheist wouldn't exactly align him with most Republicans either. Then there is a report that he believed he could fly. There were signs he was interested in the occult, but he also loved animals. Time to point fingers at similar people?
Yet this transcript of his Youtube posting shows even less coherency, with random obsessions with the currency (he wants a new "third" currency), literacy and that the government engages in mind control and brainwashing. He burned an American flag on Youtube, an act frequently seen committed by leftwing protestors (and one they defend as free speech, yet decry burning the Koran).
How could anyone say this nonsense has any credible link with the Tea Party, Republican party, Libertarian Party or whatever? He hated the government, but then those on the far left, religious extremists of Christian and Muslim hues and white supremacists all share this. He liked the Communist Manifesto too apparently.
To make such an accusation is itself an act of hatred and bigotry, to tar a whole political group with the brush of blame for inciting the murders of a disturbed young man.
- Fiscal responsibility;
- Constitutionally limited government; and
- Free markets.
Quite how that can be blamed for inciting murder is a stretch. So the philosophical and political agenda of the Tea Party can hardly be said to be responsible.
However, those on the left cite the map with crosshairs as incitement to murder. It isn't the politics, but the dialogue and the way it is expressed.
There are two problems with this leap of "logic".
First, it applies the very same logic that the conservative right (and the feminist left) uses to justify censorship, on the basis that it incites people to commit crimes. Media should be devoid of violence and sexual imagery, because it might "raise the passions to a height at which a weak willed man could not resist". It has been used to claim that nudity incites rape, that young women wearing short skirts and revealing tops incite rape. It carries the implication that criminals are not responsible for their acts, but rather "society" is to blame for creating an environment that incites them. Some on the left claim that "society" is to blame for why someone might torture an infant after all. This disconnect between actual events and actions of an individual and any sort of choice or responsibility is a dangerous form of determinism, and one that has long justified the actions of totalitarians who believe all must be controlled to ensure people act "responsibly".
If it were true there would be justification for controls on speech to limit language, given the danger that could arise from that. Of course, the US has constitutionally protected free speech that has only few limits, which are around defamation and production of recordings of actual violent and sexual offences. So any call to "tone things down" wont be about legal limits, it will be about "being polite". Yet should political discourse be limited just because someone unstable could misinterpret it?
The second problem with this approach is the failure to look in the mirror. You see the left doesn't mind using violent rhetoric itself, especially when George W. Bush was President. For years it used the same inflammatory rhetoric, in depicting George W. Bush as a terrorist, akin to Hitler and that the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy between the Administration, Israel and the military-industrial complex. This even includes a frequently quoted mainstream journalist. The Guardian's TV critic Charlie Brooker wrote a review calling for the assassination of Bush ("John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?") , culminating it the text being removed from the website. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe outlined multiple examples of those on the left using extreme inflammatory language, such as an NPR leftwing journalist saying it would be "retributive justice" if the then Senator Jesse Helms or his grandchildren got AIDS. More recently, plenty on the left put up placards that call for violence against bankers, or jokingly then seriously suggest it online.
So the idea that rhetoric that could be interpreted as violent is a "Tea Party" "right wing" trend is sheer nonsense, when the left uses the same language, pure and simple. Pot-kettle.
Indeed, if you want to stir up hatred and bigotry, then what do you call smearing a political movement with blame for a multiple murder? What does that do to lift standards of discussion and debate? In fact by pointing the finger so ridiculously at the Tea Party for the actions of an unstable young man, it is doing precisely what the left is accusing the Tea Party of - engaging in bigotry, hatred and viciousness.
The strengh of rhetoric from some libertarians (not the "right" as the Republicans in the US have been part of the problem) is because many are fed up with politicians borrowing and spending money that is not theirs, they are fed up with their own peaceful activities being taxed to pay to boost business, social or other interests that get listened to in government. They are fed up with property rights being eroded and new laws being developed for the latest problem.
To end it, Jeff Perren's excellent post at Not PC has two very useful points.
Firstly, to reinforce the point that the reason some express political anger is because they want change to less government. Not something many on the left (and some on the right) understand. As long as there are politicians who want to spend more, tax more, borrow more and regulate more, there will be those standing up to say no, again and again.
Secondly, he links to the excellent Michelle Malkin piece showing explicitly violent rhetoric used by the left against the right in the US. Then again, it's hardly surprising that the left has long excused violence used in its name to justify political action (e.g. threats and intimidation of so-called "scabs" at pickets), given it so warmly embraces state violence to accomplish its goals.
You see, when someone commits murder, with no clear motive, then the appropriate political response is, in fact, exactly what President Obama has done so far. It was a crime, there was some courage shown by those who confronted the gunman, and the bigger concern is for those who have lost a loved one.
Let those who want to occupy the fetid sewers of hatred, bigotry, blame and hypocrisy wallow, and be shown up for the shallow opportunists they are.