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The Hate Machine Backfires


For several days after the Tucson massacre and the grievous wounding of Rep. Giffords, the airwaves and some of the mainstream media  --  in particular the New York Times  --   were filled with evidence-free but poisonous accusations that conservative "rhetoric" was the underlying cause.  Paul Krugman of the Times was a particularly vicious, but unfortunately not a lonely, source of this sort of thing.

In the days since, it has become clear that political debate,  whether heated or not, and whether coming from conservatives or not, had zip to do with the shootings.  This revelation has had the healthy effect of quite visibly putting the lie to the left's Smear Machine.  A reliably liberal op-ed columnist for the Times, Charles Blow, now commendably admits what's been going on, even while conspicuously declining to single out Krugman by name.  As Blow notes,

Immediately after the news broke, the air became thick with conjecture, speculation and innuendo. There was a giddy, almost punch-drunk excitement on the left. The prophecy had been fulfilled: "words have consequences." And now, the right's rhetorical chickens had finally come home to roost. ****

Within hours of the shooting, there was a full-fledged witch hunt to link the shooter to the right.... 

The only problem is that there was no evidence then, and even now, that overheated rhetoric from the right had anything to do with the shooting. (In fact, a couple of people who said they knew him have described him as either apolitical or "quite liberal.") The picture emerging is of a sad and lonely soul slowly, and publicly, slipping into insanity.

Kent has quoted Charles Krauthammer as observing that Jared Loughner's behavior is probably explained by schizophrenia in some form, and wondering what Krugman's excuse is.  My suggestion is simple.  Hate  --  indeed precisely the kind of hate Krugman falsely attributes to those with the temerity to disagree with him.  

If this dreadful episode has any good side, this is it:  It has fully pulled back the curtain on liberal McCarthyism.



JFK Jr. on Joseph McCarthy:

"How dare you couple the name of a great American patriot with that of a traitor!"

As the release of Soviet-era archives has shown, McCarthy wasn't wrong, and since we were facing an existential threat from mass-murdering tyrants, I don't think we should be coupling McCarthy's name with liberal attempts to cow people from speaking their minds.

I agree that McCarthy's assessment of the menace presented by the Soviet Union was more prescient than his enemies ever gave him credit for, as was his assessment of the extent of Soviet infiltration in the United States. Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were not figments of McCarthy's imagination.

Nonetheless, some of this tactics were not in keeping with what I view as the proper role of a public servant, and those tactics have, fairly or not so fairly, given rise the the term "McCarthyism" as a means to denote bullying and guilt-by-association. It was in this now-conventional sense that I used the term to refer to what Krugman and his pals were trying to pull.

In a sense, though, you are correct -- perhaps more correct than you think. Even at his worst, McCarthy would employ guilt by association in reference to SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY EXISTED, to wit, Soviet infiltration. Krugman et. al tried to link Sarah Palin and other conservatives to SOMETHING THAT DID NOT EXIST, to wit, the imaginary influence of political debate on Jared Loughner's behavior.

There is a lot to like about JFK Jr. And there was a lot to like about Senator McCarthy. It's interesting that people like Alger Hiss and those traitorous scum Rosenbergs are given respectful treatment by the glitterati, but a guy like McCarthy (who is an easy target for having numerous foibles) is basically inhuman. McCarthy played a small part in the defeat of one of the most monstrous tyrannies to ever exist. In my view he is an American hero and a true patriot. I wonder what Soviet dissidents thought of Joe McCarthy. I suspect they thought a good deal more of him than they did of Teddy Kennedy.

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