Although your humble correspondent has crossed swords (nanny note: "crossed swords" is strictly a metaphor) with the senior editor of the The New Republic in the past, he highly recommends Jonathan Chait's latest article in The New Republic, "The Arizona Shooting Is Not A Product Of Right-Wing Rage," as required reading for those members of the mainstream media who have blamed the "right-wing" for the shootings of Congresswoman Gabrille Giffords and others in Arizona on Saturday.
Despite the fact that most of Chait's article displayed some refreshing mental clarity I do have some caveats about it because he does revert to slamming conservatives for supposed extremism on other matters. However, those problems with the article aside for the moment, let us first take a look at Chait correctly chastising those quick to blame "right-wingers" for the Arizona shootings:
Conservatives are furious that the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords is being pinned on them. Their indignation is justified....
...The rhetorical attempts to connect Jared Loughner to mainstream politics take two forms, neither convincing. One is to condemn the use of combat metaphors in politics, such as Sarah Palin's web page superimposing gunsights upon Democratic districts targeted by the GOP. Glenn Reynolds persuasively notes that this is a well-established, bipartisan practice:
Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's district on a list of congressional districts "bullseyed" for primary challenges. When Democrats use language like this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama's famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun"—it's just evidence of high spirits, apparently.
I don't believe that analogizing politics to combat encourages anybody, even the mentally ill, to take up violence. People use metaphors like this in all aspects of daily life -- sports, business, dating, and on and on.
Absolutely correct, Jonathan, if you don't mind praise from someone who has been a frequent combatant (nanny note: "combatant" is another metaphor). And now another moment of mental clarity from Chait on this subject:
The second form is to lump together all sorts of extremism under the broad rubric of "anger" or "hate." The New York Times news story posits "a wrenching process of soul-searching about the tone of political discourse and wondered aloud if a lack of civility had somehow contributed to the bloodshed in Tucson." NBC's Mark Murray writes, "If one word summed up the past two years in American politics, it was this: anger."
This category is far too broad. Strong feelings are a part of political discourse. This is serious business. Important things are at stake, including, at times, life and death. People have a right to get angry.
Chait is right on target (metaphor) for much of his article which makes it unfortunate that he did regress a bit by taking some inaccurate shots (metaphor) at conservatives:
Now, I do believe there is a problem with the current political moment. Both extremes of the political spectrum can embrace apocalyptic thinking and rejection of the democratic process. The left-wing version came to the fore during the 1960s, but it is tiny and almost completely disconnected from Democratic politics. The right-wing version, on the other hand, is drawing ever more tightly into an embrace with putatively respectable Republican politics.
Huh? Jonathan, have you personally seen any leftwing demonstrations recently? You don't have to look very hard to see a sea of Palestinian flags, Reconquista signs, Che Guevara T-shirts, and even red hammer and sickle flags along with speeches chock full of angry violent rhetoric. A George Bush assassination movie even won a critics' choice award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival---40 years after the 1960s.
My caveats aside, the overall thrust of Chait's article makes it must reading for those who are eager to promote the the absurd notion that "right-wing rage" somehow caused or in any way influenced the deranged shooter in Arizona to commit his heinous crimes. However, the fact that Chait continues his incorrect slams on conservatives is why the NewsBusters Eye of Sauron continues to remain firmly focused on The New Republic.