Like everybody, I’ve been trying to figure out how to interpret they weekend shooting of a congresswoman and to understand what it says about us as a people. I can’t do it. So far, I’ve figured out that we have violent people among us and that the internal barriers of civilized society don’t restrain them very effectively. I’ve also figured out that the media are divided into two camps, and that one of those camps is quite certain what caused the event and the other is less certain.
Those who are certain are certain that the spree was caused by or abetted by rhetoric.
Those who are less certain are struggling to come up with explanations.
I find it hard to imagine rhetoric is not part of the problem, having complained for years that the fundamental principle of conservatism is reverence and, therefore, many pop-conservative are betraying the cause.
However, the notion that even pop-conservatives are more aggressive than “liberals” has never been convincing to me. It is true that many conservatives are angry and threatened. This is because they believe, generally, that our constitution is being dishonored, that property rights are threatened (which is another way of saying they feel insecure about the security of their households), that the economy has been ruined by the state that claims to be providing security for us all, and so on.
Conservatives are accused of being paranoid. Some are. But most are simply aware of risks to their property and well-being.
Conservatives don’t complain primarily about the rhetoric of the liberals, though they certainly do complain about that. What they are more concerned about is their decisions.
I don’t think it would be overstating the case to say that most conservatives feel like they have been mugged by their leaders and are being scolded for being angry about it.
In turn, a mad killer goes on a rampage in Arizona, kills a conservative judge, a fairly conservative democratic congresswoman, and a child, something no conservative would ever do, and the media ascribes the impulse behind the murders to conservative anger.
If a conservative were to say that the media should stop provoking conservatives or there will be a backlash, he would be seen as fomenting or threatening violence. Think of that. One might yearn for peace and prosperity. But because he expresses an anxiety about what a disrespected, scorned person on the fringes might do, he would be accused of threatening, instead of warning about, violence. I’ve seen this pattern. It is foolish.
If you want to make people afraid of the government, give it so much power that it makes people nervous and interferes with their daily lives. If you want peace, set people free.
But don’t blame peaceful, simple, patriotic people every time something goes wrong with the progressive utopia. I must withhold judgment on Loughner. But Paul Krugman should be fired.
It is time, as much media is saying, to “tone down the political rhetoric.” It is also time to tone down the political aggressiveness of those who want to remake America.