'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't Worry, Sarah, I've Got Your Back (Part 2) 

UPDATE 1: Over at firedoglake, they are, as they often say about inopportune statements of political figures, walking it back. Today, Jane Hamsher is now saying this:

I don’t care if they find Sarah Palin’s crosshairs map in Jared Loughner’s bedroom. She didn’t cause him to do what he did. What she did do, undeniably and indisputably, was act irresponsibly in the midst of an extremely volatile situation. On the fifth straight day of violence and threats against members of Congress over the health care bill, when everyone from John Boehner on down was calling for the attacks to stop, Palin released her crosshairs map and tried to prove she was not a weenie by telling people to reload, not retreat.

David Dayen has also accommodated himself to the new liberal line as well:

Right now, the public isn’t ready to believe an argument that Jared Loughner was motivated by right-wing rhetoric. Fortunately, nobody has said that, because it’s the wrong claim to make. Nobody has claimed that crosshairs on a map or talk of Second Amendment remedies is specifically to blame (some on the right have blamed heavy metal music and a skull in his backyard, and that’s just as silly). The main claim is that the toxic stew of noxious rhetoric, particularly in Loughner’s home district and home state of Arizona, creates an environment that amps up a lunatic fringe. Loughner couldn’t help but trip over that, and indeed his writings do have a cockeyed resonance to some of the really far-right groups like Posse Comitatus and the Patriot movement. That doesn’t make those practitioners of angry rhetoric culpable, but it sure doesn’t mean what they’re doing helped, either.

Leaving aside the obvious, that liberals were, in fact, trying to induce the public to believe that people like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, as well as amorphous groups like the Tea Party, bore responsibility for the Tucson killings, the new line isn't very compelling. Indeed, it's pretty hard to understand as demonstrated by Hamsher's muddy analysis. Palin didn't cause Loughner to do what he did, but acted irresponsibly. I guess that's what you fall back upon when you are caught out with no evidence. After all, how does one defend one's self against that? If it justifies a political death sentence, as she asserted in regard to Palin yesterday, then there are lot of other politicians and commentators who are going to find themselves sentenced along with her.

More specifically, Hamsher condemns Palin because she exhorted people to reload, not retreat. Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it, unless you frequently peruse the comment pages at firedoglake. One wonders whether Hamsher is going to double the number of moderators going forward. Dayen's iteration isn't any more helpful. Let's see, they aren't culpable, but they haven't helped, either. Like millions of others Americans, I guess. Looks more and more like Olbermann, the Witchfinder General of American liberalism, is hanging out there in the wind by himself. Anyway, I should probably not be so hard on Hamsher and Dayen, just look at the bright side, and recognize that firedoglake is trying to extricate itself from this embarrasing episode, and return to what it does best, exposing how the Obama administration continues to make policy decisions in favor of the plutocracy at the expense of the rest of us. If so, not a moment too soon, because they aren't many journalists and websites that do it better with such dogged persistence.

INITIAL POST: All that's left is to forcibly seize Sarah Palin, put her in the helicopter position, place a dunce cap on her head and turn up the klieg lights for a round of self-criticism. Maybe, it can be staged live on an upcoming Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bullseye targets on 20 Representatives including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics, she must be dismissed from politics - 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, and they must in turn be dismissed by the responsible members of their own party.

If the Tea Party leaders who took out of context a Jefferson quote about blood and tyranny and the tree of liberty do not understand - do not understand tonight, now what that really means, and these leaders do not tell their followers to abhor violence and all threat of violence, then those Tea Party leaders must be repudiated by the Republican Party...

If Glenn Beck, who obsesses nearly as strangely as 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, do not begin their next broadcasts with solemn apologies for ever turning to the death-fantasies and the dreams of bloodlust, for ever having provided just the oxygen to those deep in madness to whom violence is an acceptable solution, then those commentators and the others must be repudiated by their viewers, and by all politicians, and by sponsors, and by the networks that employ them.

Of course, the most obnoxious aspect of Olbermann's statement is the degradation of the Tucson tragedy into yet another media circus, with Olbermann engaging in the television equivalent of a staged food fight with Beck and O'Reilly in order to improve his ratings, although I will concede that there is the happy coincidence that he does, no doubt, believe what he says. Few things are more pleasing than when ones values are congruent with one's economic self-interest.

Naturally, Olbermann doesn't allude to any reports that Loughner was actually influenced by anything that Palin has said or done, because, last time I looked, there aren't any. Indeed, I haven't encountered any reports that Loughner has ever mentioned Sarah Palin in any context, or even knows who she is, despite numerous interviews of friends and classmates, as well as information taken from his Facebook page. You'd assume that he does, given her celebrity, and her frequent appearances in Arizona, but, if so, it hasn't been reported.

And, likewise with the Tea Party and Glenn Beck. Has anyone encountered anything to indicate that Loughner was aware of the mischaracterized Jefferson quote and Beck's obsession with George Tiller? Did Loughner pay any attention to Beck and the Tea Party at all? Apparently, Loughner did describe a woman who read a poem about an abortion in one of his classes as a terrorist for killing the baby, so, maybe, by Olbermann's journalistic standards, that's enough to establish a connection to Beck.

We may have also encountered a curious instance of projection whereby Olbermann has subconsciously attributed his experiences to Loughner, something which may partially explain the hysterical liberal response to Tucson more generally. If liberals like Olbermann paid scrupulous attention to Palin, the Tea Party and Glenn Beck, then, without question, Loughner did as well. Factual confirmation is unnecessary. Such projection results in the erasure of Loughner as a human being with an independent agency, reducing him to a recepticle for liberal fears and anxieties about the far right.

Amazingly, liberals like Olbermann, and other bright, skillful ones like Jane Hamsher, should know better. We are, as they say, in the early innings, and there is much still to be learned about Jared Loughner and why he decided to try to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As I observed yesterday, Timothy McVeigh made reference to the Second Gulf War as one of his justifications for the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. One cannot exclude the possibility that Loughner will make reference to other reasons for his actions, ones that will prove embarassing to liberals, such as, just to throw out a few, the bank bailout, the failure to provide assistance to people facing foreclosure, the war in Afghanistan, or even more obscure possibilities, such as US support for Saudi Arabia. Loughner the person still possesses an unpredictability that Loughner the liberal caricature does not.

Which is why I persist in my stubborn insistence upon factual substantiation for the liberal claims that the atmosphere created by Palin, the Tea Party and Beck was responsible for the Tucson tragedy. There are lots of reporters out there on the story, as well as many federal and state investigators as well, they shouldn't be too hard to find. I appreciate readers of this blog, whatever their political persuasion, that forward such information to me, as I do in any other context. After all, I can't read, watch and listen to everything. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't point out the brazen hypocrisy of Olbermann's statement that Beck and Bill O'Reilly should apologize for having provided just the oxygen to those deep in madness to whom violence is an acceptable solution.

Any list of such people that does not start with President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, among others, should be promptly disregarded as self-serving. For they, more than any others in this society, have been perpetually insisting that violence is an acceptable solution to the global challenges faced by the US. And, more than that, they have unapologetically asserted that the US may kill people indiscriminately in order to achieve their aspirations for global domination. While I find people like Beck and O'Reilly detestable, they are merely the media house servants for those who are truly responsible for having persuaded many Americans that the US must engage the rest of the world through policies of preemptive war, preventive detention and torture.

Hat tip to Jack Crow.

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