One would hope that there would be a few days given over to mourning for the dead and public good wishes for the full recovery of the injured in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting this morning. But since we live in a Twitter and Facebook and Instant Messaging world, such hope no longer gets a chance. Efforts to set the narrative are already fully under way.
Those whose violent, eliminationist rhetoric has polluted the air waves and other media for the past couple of decades, ramping itself up a little more each year, especially with the arrival of an African American in the White House, are, of course, denying that the shootings of a Congresswoman, a judge, a child and bystanders on a street corner in Arizona have anything to do with their savage words. No surprise. One thing they're good at is refusing to accept any responsibility for the consequences of this murderous talk, whether it's Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building or Scott Roeder assassinating a doctor.
There needs to be a proper counter to this denial. President Obama could help us in this regard. Former civil rights attorney and president of The Sierra Club Foundation Guy Saperstein offers an introduction for the President to take when he fully addresses what happened in Tucson:
My fellow Americans. It is easy to condemn violence, but condemning violence is not enough. We need to try to understand violence and what provokes it. This tragedy in Arizona should not be viewed as a random, isolated, or even an unpredictable, act. It is the inevitable consequence of a culture of violence and the rhetoric of violence. When political opponents are demonized and political disagreement is discussed in terms more appropriate to war, unstable individuals like [the Arizona shooter] are encouraged to act in violent ways. When political opponents, like Sarah Palin, use gunsights and "targets" to identify politicians they disagree with, they must be held morally responsible for the violence such over-heated rhetoric causes.
What we're going to be saturated with for the next week or so are the inevitable false equivalencies. We'll hear, for instance, how there are "nuts on both sides." Undeniably true. But there is no ubiquitous liberal - much less, left-wing - network of talk-radio stations spouting Two Minutes' Hate 24/7. The collective voice of the right wing on radio and the Internet with its coded and uncoded calls to violence, of "2nd Amendment remedies," of cross hairs superimposed on states and on individuals simply has no visible counterpart on the left. When the right discusses the violent left, it must seek overseas examples or something from decades ago in America's past.
Michael Savage bleating on Savage Nation radio, says: "Only vigilance and resistance to this baby dictator, Barack Hussein Obama, can prevent the Khmer Rouge from appearing in this country." Erick Ericksson at Red State says: "At what point do the people ... march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp?" No matter how it tries, the right cannot divorce itself from the pustulence of its violent rhetoric no matter how many times its practitioners say "not me, not me" after people are murdered for taking these vile imprecations to heart. A few crocodile tears from Glenn Beck won't cut it.