Ezra Klein points out the obvious that Loughner wasn’t told to literally go out and kill Representative Giffords and tries to say there are differences in intent and craziness between political violence where a bodyguard shoots a governor 26 times in the name of religious bigotry and “random shootings” where a citizen shoots 18 people in the name of anti-government extremism.
(Referencing the Pakistan assassination of a prominent secular governor) In Pakistan, the next time a political leader attempts to stand up for an unpopular position, or a religious minority, the image of Taseer will be foremost in his mind. And that was the point: Violence can be a calculated tool used by organized parties or groups to eliminate politicians, win elections and scare people away from certain positions. But that does not seem to be what happened today in Arizona.
From what we know, or think we know, Jared Loughner, the suspected shooter, was mentally ill. This was not an organized act of political violence, or even a rational one. Loughner’s statements were clearly insane, and though his ravings contained some political content, it is not political content that either side of the spectrum would easily recognize as their own. “I’m able to control every belief and religion by being the mind-controller” does not appear in the platforms of either party, for instance. WP
So the bodyguard murdering his boss in the name of a metaphysical god in his head was rational and Loughner never could have thought killing Giffords would make Democrats back off their march of tyrany? Loughner may be mentally ill, but most people who kill outside of wartime are not in their right minds. Is Ezra Klein trying to say political violence is rational violence done only by the mentally fit? The people in mobs can be just as illogical and murderous for the wrong reasons and the wrong targets as this man, who for killing people for bad reasons, is classified as mentally ill. Klein makes this out to be some great, illuminating differential. In Klein’s mind, the one that happened in Pakistan made sense because it is perceived as politically troubled and the one that happened in the United States surely could not be because the United States doesn’t have that kind of politically violent environment.
Klein’s whitewashing what happened, so we can all sing kumbaya about our political unity in the face of enacted extremism.
It was a meeting between a congressional representative and those she represents. They were attacked for being good citizens, and nothing can ever put that right.
Loughner didn’t run up to Giffords, shoot her in the head, along with a sympathetic judge, several of her staffers, and interested constituents because they were practicing democracy. He killed them because they were perceived to be liberal pro-government oppressors. Where did he get this idea? Loughner didn’t go out and shoot John McCain or the larger Arizona Republican congressional contingent. Where did he get this idea to target Democrats? Surely you can’t argue he came to that motivation independent of the very popular, very public rhetoric of conservative leaders. Klein’s asking us to accept the following proposition “But Glenn Beck didn’t mean shoot to kill when he asked people to shoot to kill. And crosshairs targeting Giffords and other Democrats was just a simple political sign for electoral politics. A guy took it too far. Let’s all calm down.”
That is bullshit. This explanation does not explain how this situation came to be and why six people, including a 9-year old girl are dead.
This is a better explanation given what we know so far. “A young man was quietly disturbed and his writings were violent, but he was considered just off and weird, and so was tolerably ignored by his peers. He was weird enough to get kicked out of college, but the system doesn’t force individuals to take mental evaluations so his instability went unnoticed by the state. He was a conservative who was
angry about the immigration issue in his community and the perceived intrusion of the new health care bill paranoid about the oppression of the “current government”. As he, like everyone else in this country, listened to the vitriol from the Right, he became more unstable. His former friends say that he began to go crazy about a year ago. He began to see a difference between Republicans and Democrats, one in which Republicans were protecting him and Democrats were seeking to ruin his life. He acted literally on the violent hyperbole fed to him. In order to protect his loved ones and keep America strong, he had to shoot to kill. Conveniently for him, his congresswoman was one of the vulnerable Democrats who was targeted for electoral defeat and she had voted for the health care bill, which was as bad as the Holocaust and Nazi sterilization. But she won her reelection bid. the party in power was using the government to try to control him. If you can’t change oppression through the ballot, you have to take up your Second Amendment rights. So he had to do it.
And with Giffords dead, Democrats will think twice about
being as bad as the Nazis and taking our freedoms and siding with illegal immigrants who don’t love this country. oppressing individuals.
Update 2: I find the most recent reason for Loughner’s massacre to be even more traditionally right-wing (though still crazy, but someone who kills people over this is always going to be crazy) than the issue-based argument that was written about on Sunday. The Left believes government helps people, the Right believes it oppresses people.
While sick and perverse, his logic for killing was conservative. You cannot say conservative rhetoric had nothing to do with it he was mentally ill, or it’s too hard to tell. It had everything to do with it.
So shut the hell up Ezra Klein. Update 3: Too strong there. I was angry that people were striving to say that thought environments can’t be part of the explanation to events. We do this all the time in history. McCarthyism doesn’t make sense if you don’t study the fear and paranoia that the media spread about communism, for example.
Update: What’s even worse is the cynicism you have to apply to say conservative vitriol was so hyped. In order for the very public vitriol to make sense in a ‘rational’ American political context is to know that Republicans and conservatives don’t really believe what they’re saying, and are using hyperbole to actually fight over a very small amount of ground in the American political spectrum mainly to decide the extent that redistribution and regulations will benefit the rich over the other classes, if fighting imperial wars are a good thing, and how much religion should guide our domestic policy. If average American commentators on Facebook, blogs, websites, and radio are any indication, it’s not just one nut job committing mass murder acting out the literal interpretations of conservative vitriol. Many Americans seem to believe the vitriol when asked if they do but don’t act on it. So you either have to believe that there are Americans out there who believe the vitriol, but aren’t murdering liberals out of some sense of decency in the face of oppression, or the entire nation knows conservative rhetoric is one big game orchestrated to get more seats for their political supporters, except for a couple nut jobs.
Sorry, but I’m not buying it.