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The Tucson Massacre’s Hall Of Shame: Leftists Who Used Tragedy To Smear The Right

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Posted on January 15 2011 2:00 pm

The massacre in Tucson was a horrendous tragedy. Everyone in the country, of every ideological stripe, should have been allowed to mourn the victims’ deaths and injuries without the imposition of having to defend people who had nothing at all to do with it. But where normal people saw tragedy, the far left saw opportunity. They jumped at the chance to implicate an entire movement, and their leaders, (most notably Sarah Palin) as accessories to the crime. They did this before anything was even known about the assailant. They did it because of their own visceral hatred for their political enemies.

Now, that it is known beyond a shadow of doubt, that Jared Loughner was not inspired by right-wing rhetoric, the tea party, Sarah Palin, or any other conservative notable, I think it’s useful, and frankly cathartic to name the names of the despicable vultures who swooped in and engaged in this contemptible behavior.

Here they are, all in one place, for you to hoot, jeer, boo, cat call, heckle and throw virtual (as in not real) rotten fruit at:

The Tucson Massacre Hall of Shame:

@mattyglesias: of Think Progress, (known in the right-wing blogosphere as the world’s dumbest blogger), was by all appearances, the first to assign blame to Palin, on Twitter:

A reminder that gun imagery and electoral politics don’t mix that well: http://yfrog.com/h4j00sj

The vile Markos: (taking Yglesias’s bait) Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin.

Jane Fonda tweeted some really sick and despicable stuff, as well, on the day of the shooting:
@SarahPalinUSA holds responsibility. As does the violence provoking rhetoric of the tea party.
Glenn Beck guilty, too. Shame. It must stop!
Michael Moore on Twitter:

“‘When Palin put crosshairs on a map w/Rep. Giffords & 19 other Dem congressmen/women, she urged followers to ‘reload’ & ‘aim’ for Democrats.”
Liberals on Twitter, not self-aware enough to notice the sad irony, proceeded to pile on Palin with an obscene slew of death tweets.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/18733744 w=400&h=300]

Palin Death Wish Tweets Re Tucson Shooting from Legal Insurrection on Vimeo.

Sheriff Dupnik, a Democrat shocked the nation by irresponsibly offering his political opinion, rather than sticking to the facts. His first statement coming right out of the box:

“When you look at unbalanced people, 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 county is getting to be outrageous. Unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital,” Dupnik continued.

“We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry,” Dupnik said.

Arizona is a Republican stronghold where the party members hold a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the legislature and occupy the governor’s office.

Subsequent statements have been even worse, and just as unsubstantiated. No wonder calls are mounting for him to resign.


A clearly delusional Paul Krugman who’s apparently been fearing a reichwing kristallnacht since the Clinton years jumped in early, as well:

I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again.

You won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.use the

Proof? Who needs proof when it comes to complicity to mass murder?

We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list. [...] You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.

Jonathan Alter distinguished himself for advising the President to exploit the tragedy as a political opportunity – in essence, suggesting the President smear talk radio the way Clinton did in 1995:

This horrific event offers the president a chance to show leadership qualities that he’s inexplicably hidden away in some blind trust. The shootings and the resulting debate over the climate of incivility play to his strengths as a calm and rational leader. Just as Bill Clinton’s response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings helped him recover from his defeat in the 1994 midterms, so this episode may help Obama change—at least in the short term–the trajectory of American politics.

Clinton did more than just speak movingly after Oklahoma City and pull the country together as griever-in-chief. He was able to use the event to discredit the militia movement and tamp down hate speech on talk radio enough that it wasn’t much of a factor in his 1996 reelection.


Think Progress played up the Palin connection:

Last year, Sarah Palin’s PAC posted a map with gun cross-hairs over the districts of several Democrats who voted for health care reform, including Giffords. Sarah PAC appears to have taken the page down today, but a screenshot is here

Eric Boehlert employs his tortured logic to find a Fox News connection.

“No one is saying that they are responsible for what happened in Arizona, but they appear to have no regrets whatsoever in terms of what they have done to the political discourse in this country.”

Fox News must apologize for what they didn’t do!

I’m not going to bore with you a list of left-wing blogs. I think it’s safe to say most tried to connect the shooting to right wing rhetoric, so I’m not going to name them all, as that would be too tedious, and would take up too much space. But rest assured, Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars, FireDogLake, MediaMutters, and hundreds of others in the left-wing feverswamps played their own little parts in this obscene blame game.

Keith Olbermann called on Palin & Beck and O’Reilly, and Other Conservatives ‘Slightly Less Madmen’ Than Gunman, To Apologize for Past Violent Suggestions:

“If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bulls-eye targets on 20 representatives, including Gabby Giffords does not repudiate her own part – however tangential in amplifying violence and violent imagery in American politics – she must be dismissed from politics,” Olbermann said. “She must be repudiated by the members of her own party. And if they fail to do so, each one of them must be judged to have silently defended this tactic that today proved so awfully foretelling.” By widening the scope of those individuals in Sarah Palin’s community of colleagues, Mr. Olbermann is extending blame to the entirety of the Republican Party. “If Sharon Angle, who spoke of Second Amendment remedies does not repudiate that remark and urge her supporters to think anew and again of the terrible reality of what her words implied, she must be repudiated by her supporters in Nevada,” Olbermann said. And then Mr. Olbermann turned his attention to Fox News hosts Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. “If Glenn Beck who obsesses nearly as strangely as this Mr. Loughner did about gold and debt – and who wistfully joked about killing Michael Moore – and Bill O’Reilly who blithely repeated ‘Tiller the Killer’ until the phrase was burned into the minds of his viewers; if they do not begin their next broadcasts with solemn apologies for ever turning to the death fantasies and the dreams of blood lust, for ever having provided just the oxygen for those deep in madness for whom violence is an acceptable solution then those commentators and the others must be repudiated by their viewers and listeners, by all politicians who would appear on their programs – including President Obama and his planned interview with Fox on Superbowl Sunday, and repudiated by the sponsors and by the networks that employ them.”

Bob Schieffer:

Those on the other side of the argument become not opponents but enemies. Dangerous, inflammatory words are used with no thought of consequence. All is fair if it makes a point. Worse, some make great profit just fanning the flames.

Which wouldn’t amount to much if the words reached only the sane and the rational, but the new technology ensures a larger audience. Those with sick and twisted minds hear us too, and are sometimes inflamed by what the rest of us often discard as hollow and silly rhetoric. And so violence becomes part of the argument.

Howard Fineman is sure that Palin has a Svengali-like effect on her fans. She’s the Pied Piper of crazed gun-nuts who are ready to snap and go on murderous rampages the minute she blows the dog whistle:

HOWARD FINEMAN, Yeah. I, I – having seen her play with the, with the gun analogy, I’m not going to cut her that much slack here.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

FINEMAN: I saw her last spring in New Orleans, and she did the – in front of a Republican audience of grassroots hardcore people saying, “We’re not gonna retreat, we’re gonna reload.”

MATTHEWS: What’s that mean?

FINEMAN: Okay, now, I know she said, “Hey, that doesn’t mean anything.” To those people, that was dog whistle politics to those people.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, yeah.

FINEMAN: And it involves Second Amendment rights, it involves the whole mythology and reality of guns. She knew exactly what she was playing with here. That doesn’t mean she’s in any way responsible for this. To underscore that, okay? But that’s the thing that she’s playing around with here, and she darn well knows what she’s doing.


Especially harsh was Michael Daly, New York Daily News:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ blood is on Sarah Palin’s hands after putting cross hair over district.

The New York Times, ABC,CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC all joined the pig-pile.

Jealous lib talkers like Michael Smerconish and E. Steven Collins also towed the party line on Hardball:

Philadelphia area radio host Michael Smerconish coined a word in his attack on conservative chatter as he talked about “the hatriolic comments” he’s heard and in referring to a scene he saw at a town hall meeting worried: “These are people who are on the edge and if somebody pushes them over, God help us all.”

E. Steven Collins, another Philly area talker, sided with Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who attacked Rush Limbaugh, as he hailed: “The sheriff in Tucson was absolutely right…It does impact people who may have a mental problem or may not” and added that there was a “direct relationship” with Sarah Palin putting crosshairs on her Web site over Giffords’ district and the loss of a life of “that little girl who went down to meet the congressperson.”

The Politico’s Roger Simon saw the shooting as a culmination of right wing rhetoric and activism run amuck:

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others at a small political rally outside a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday was one of those terrible shocks we were just waiting for.

It had been building for weeks.

A woman in Kentucky who was protesting Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul outside a debate was dragged to the ground and had her head repeatedly stomped upon. (She suffered a concussion and multiple sprains; Paul was elected to the Senate.)

A gubernatorial candidate in New York jammed his face against a reporter’s and said, “I’ll take you out, buddy.”

And people began showing up at political rallies carrying guns.


Jesse Jackson Jr:
Why let facts get in the way of a great narrative…

The appropriate response to last weekend’s shooting in Arizona depends in large part on how we define it. If we choose to view the events in Tucson as the act of a lone lunatic, the American people will respond accordingly. If we choose to define it as an act of terrorism, the American people have quite a different response.

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was part of a conspiracy to kill several prominent national figures. The shootings of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were the acts of lone, deranged gunmen.

However, from the shooting of Lincoln to the events in Tucson, there is a thread that liberals and conservatives have ignored. Each event traumatized our government and disrupted its business — and was carried out by anti-government activists. And that’s terror.


Chris Matthews linked the shooting to Palin and Bachmann’s scary gun language:

“Sarah Palin using gun play language. What is she talking about crosshairs and reloading…and Bachmann out there with her kind of talk. I mean it seems like the way people talk now has, has gotten more ballistic…Why are guns talked about so much, especially on the right? Why?”

A Tale of Two Matthews: How MSNBC’s Host Handled Tucson Shooting vs. Ft. Hood Shooting


Movie City News:
“To blame this on anyone specifically on the right in a ‘blood on their hands’ way would be too specific,” wrote David Polland. “But to dismiss the culture of rage that has been encouraged on the right, including the gun culture – have we heard what kind of weapon this guy shot 15 people with before being tackled – is equally foolhardy.”
Sarah Palin still has not removed the controversial target list map from her Facebook page — the one that was posted back in March and features crosshairs all over a map … and the name of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, among others,” said a TMZ post, complete with an image of the map from Facebook.
“Congresswoman in AZ, who is ON Sarah Palin’s crosshairs map was SHOT in the head 2day. Happy now Sarah?”
Bill Maher – all class, as usual, on The Jay Leno Show:

‘The right-wing loves, the go-to rhetoric for them is, “Wouldn’t it be fun to kill the people we disagree with?” You know, they try to put across this false equivalence. (the audience boos) No?’

No.
Well, I think this is a case in which intent doesn’t obviate the crime. No, I think most of these people who say these violent sounding things about how evil your government is and what it’s doing to you and who quote Thomas Jefferson about democracy needing to be watered by the blood of patriots and that sort of thing, I don’t think they actually intend people to take this seriously, but it can and there are people who are unbalanced who have access to guns who do take it seriously, and we should know that by now.
Andrea Mitchell has repeatedly linked Palin to the shooting:

In a story entitled, “Crosshairs Controversy, Palin Criticized For ‘Targeting Giffords’” Mitchell noted: “The attack has reopened criticism of the way Palin targeted Gabby Giffords and 19 other Democrats in last year’s campaign.” Mitchell then went on to report that after Giffords’ congressional district, along with 20 others, was targeted with crosshairs on a map on Sarah Palin’s Web site, “Giffords’ Tuscon office was vandalized” and then aired a clip of Giffords slamming Palin.
Mark Shields linked hate speech to the shooting, conveniently forgetting about some highly charged rhetoric of his own in the past:
I think, Jim, that we have seen the deterioration of our public debate and the climate that has been fostered and nurtured by what could only be called hate speech. And I think that hate speech basically depersonalizes and demonizes political adversaries. You’re not an adversary, not an opponent. You’re an enemy.

And I think — I don’t know of a causal relationship here with this individual, but one should not be surprised that, when you do demonize to the degree that we have done in our politics and has been done, whether it’s calling George Bush Hitler or calling Barack Obama Hitler, or saying as Glenn Beck did, that he knows he’s a racist, something happens.

Nancy Skinner:

So weak and craven was her feeble defense of the lefty narrative, she spoke haltingly – as if she couldn’t believe the BS that was coming out of her own mouth as she sparred with Jonah Goldberg, on Megyn Kelly’s Fox show:
Nancy: Well…um…this guy had a lot of anti-government rhetoric going on, but he was unstable, so, um…yeah! There’s some connection!
Megyn: –But the Communist Manifesto was also his favorite book…
Nancy: (pregnant pause) He read lot’s of — of —
Jonah Goldberg: He didn’t like the government’s grammar!
Nancy: He was mostly….He didn’t. like. the. government! He was anti-government!
Megyn Kelly: (eyebrows raised) That makes him a right-wing…?
Jonah: He didn’t like George Bush either! He didn’t like the Iraq War! He didn’t like Afghanistan! He didn’t like any of that stuff!
Nancy: …that intended to be the tuh…tea-party flavor of the day: hate the government…gotta stop the government…
Megyn: Wow…
Nancy: Sarah Palin…with her crosshairs…
Jonah: He was a paranoid schizophrenic, and what you’re doing is disgusting, Nancy.
Nancy: …over her district!
Megyn: (with a look of pity and disgust on her face) Okay, I gotta go, we’ve gone off the rails, now…we’re really off the rails …now we are really disconnected from the facts as we know them…

Video here.


James Clyburn bizarrely tried to link the shooting to the reading of the constitution in Congress:

“All of this stuff about delegitimizing the president of the United States, that is uncalled for. And all of the stuff taking place in the chamber the other day when the Constitution was being read, all of that stuff is uncalled for. The hanging over the banisters that some members did last year egging on the demonstrators out there, that stuff is uncalled for. We ought to conduct ourselves in public office in the way we teach our children to conduct themselves when they go out into the public. I don’t believe that any one of these members have been teaching their children inside their homes to act the way many of them have acted.”

Hillary Clinton: When she first linked the massacre to political extremism, one was inclined to give her a pass because she was out of the country, and perhaps didn’t have access to all the information…but she doubled down on the preposterous meme when she was asked about it, again.

Well, I think from what we know – and of course, I’m reading the newspapers and watching TV like everyone else who was deeply affected by this tragedy. I knew that people all over the world would be expressing their sympathy, as they have been, on my trip… Based on what I know, this is a criminal defendant who was in some ways motivated by his own political views, who had a particular animus toward the congresswoman. And I think when you cross the line from expressing opinions that are of conflicting differences in our political environment into taking action that’s violent action, that’s a hallmark of extremism, whether it comes from the right, the left, from al-Qaida, from anarchists, whoever it is. That is a form of extremism. So yes, I think that when you’re a criminal who is in some way pursuing criminal activity connected to – however bizarre and poorly thought through – your political views, that’s a form of extremism.
Clinton should know by now that the mentally unstable Loughner had an obsession with Congresswoman Giffords which predated the Tea Party or the prominence of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.. To the degree that he has any coherent political views at all, they seem to tilt to the left, but crazy is crazy. To pin political extremism on this guy at this point seems either uninformed or disingenuous.


Some of these folks seem sincere – they had real concern in their voices as they discussed what they believe to be over-charged rhetoric coming from the right, but some  clearly exploited the tragedy to score political points. They all seem oblivious to the gross double standard to which they hold conservatives.
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Although most Americans have rejected the false narrative, a full 60% of MNSNC viewers believe that political rhetoric is to blame for the Tucson shooting.
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A few cooler heads didn’t leap to conclusions. Kudos are due to: Jake Tapper, Kirsten Powers, Howard Kurtz, Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Barbara Walters.
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UPDATE:
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A few late additions:
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PZ Myers: The  immediate reaction of a “warmy academic” by the name of PZ Myers to news of the  shooting, via Tim Blair:
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I’ll take a wild guess here. The scumbag who committed this crime has been caught; I’ll bet he’ll turn out to be a Teabagger who listens to a lot of AM talk radio.
He also said:
Screw that. Now is the time to politicize the hell out of this situation.
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No surprise here….
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The facts, moreover, are these: Palin singles out Giffords as a “target” for attack, illustrated by cross-hairs in gun sights, and urges supporters to “reload”. This is pointed out at the time and Giffords herself worries that it took things over the edge. Palin had a chance to apologize or retract or soften the rhetoric. She did nothing of the kind. An individual subsequently guns Giffords down. What more, in many relevant respects, do we need to know than this?

Michelle Obama jumped into the fray with what was supposed to be a sensitive and helpful letter to parents, but was instead filled with  platitudes that did nothing to address the cause of the  tragedy, (mental illness) and only helped advance the left wing narrative - *The tragedy is the result of right wing vitriolic rhetoric*:
“The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of
your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers.” Or
even relevant answers, as we learn a few lines later on.She says, “We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming
the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to
give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they
disagree.”

Thanks to Nick W.
UPDATE (Jan. 19):
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I didn’t mean to ignore Alan Grayson.

He probably could have been added, earlier, but now must added to the list, having shamelessly chosen to blame Sarah Palin for the shooting in a letter to supporters:

“As I observed on MSNBC last week, there has been a stream of violence and threats of violence by the right wing against Democrats. Gabby warned against it, and then became a terrible victim of it,” says Grayson. “Palin has instigated it, and then tried to pretend that it doesn’t exist. What do I think? I think that Gabby said it best: ‘We can’t stand for this.’ We have to stand against it.”

Cross-posted at Nice Deb
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