Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blind Squirrels

There's not much anyone can say yet about the Aurora massacre. We know very little about the details, but that hasn't stopped some in the liberal media from trying to score political points. The very worst example of this, perhaps, is George Stephanopolis and Brian Ross at ABC News.

Ross apparently Googled the name of the shooter, James Holmes and Aurora, CO and came up with a guy who's a member of the local Tea Party. That was all the justification he apparently needed to mention the connection on the air and throw this innocent man's life into turmoil.
If Ross can't say for sure that this was the man who killed a dozen people then why say it at all? Was he simply trying to throw it out there that the Tea Party might somehow be implicated, or that members of the Tea Party are inherently violent?

Peter Wehner had some good thoughts about this sleazy example of journalism by innuendo at Commentary Magazine. Here's part of what Wehner wrote:
[T]he effort by some – in this case, by ABC’s Brian Ross — to attempt to politicize this tragedy almost as soon as the bullets from the killer’s gun had found their targets. (Ross mistakenly speculated, based on the flimsiest evidence, that the killer was a member of the Tea Party. ABC has since issued a retraction and an apology.)

This kind of politicization occurs in part because reporters on the air feel they have to comment on an event when they in fact have very little to say. It is also the result, I think, of an effort to draw some larger meaning from acts that often turn out to have no larger meaning. Sometimes they are what they are: the malevolent actions of poisoned minds. But part of it, too, is a reflex by some to fit a massacre like this into a preexisting political narrative. We saw it happen in the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City; the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School; the 2011 shooting spree near Tucson; and we will undoubtedly see it after today’s slaughter.

To be clear: there is such a thing as political violence. But what is troubling is the immediate assumption by some people, usually those who are part of the political class, that every massacre can be ascribed to political motivations. Acting on this assumption, they contort things in order to make them fit a convenient political template.

This effort to interpret everything through a political and partisan lens – to reduce everything to a political and partisan interpretation – is itself a disfigurement of reality. Life is a complicated and endlessly variegated thing. Politics has a role in all our lives; but for it to play such a dominant role in people’s imagination is surely not a healthy thing. And for people to immediately and instinctively take every human event – no matter how tragic and how painful — and place it in the maw of our politics is wrong and even repulsive. It exploits people’s sorrow and grief in order to score cheap political points and frame stupid political argument.
Blaming the Tea Party in particular, and conservatives in general, for instigating or perpetrating crimes of violence is a chronic ploy by the Left. They do it almost every time there's a national tragedy and each time they wind up looking foolish. You'd think they'd learn. Ace of Spades posts a summary of previous examples:
  • When Dr. Amy Bishop shot her colleagues, the Left speculated that she was a Tea Partier. In fact, she was an Obama donor.
  • A Discovery Channel hostage-taker was supposedly a climate change denier. In fact, he was an enviroweenie and Discovery Channel intern.
  • The census-taker was supposedly hanged by extremist anti-tax Tea Partiers. In fact, he hanged himself.
  • The Times Square Bomber was speculated to be upset about [Health Care Reform]. In fact, he was jihadi scum.
  • The guy who flew his plane into the IRS in TX was supposedly a Tea Partier. In fact, he quoted from the Communist Manifesto.
  • The guy who was stabbing NYC cabbies was supposedly an anti-Ground Zero Mosque Tea Partier. In fact, he supported the GZM.
  • The Pentagon shooter was supposedly a Tea Party extremist. In fact, he was a 9/11 Truther.
  • When the Ft. Hood shooting happened, the Left speculated that it was a “Right Wing Nut Job.” In fact, it was a Muslim nutjob.
  • When the Tucson shooting occurred, it was immediately blamed on Tea Party rhetoric. In fact, Jared Loughner was apolitical and insane.
Perhaps they think that if they accuse the Tea Party of complicity every time there's a tragedy maybe someday, like the blind squirrel that eventually stumbles upon an acorn by sheer luck, they'll get lucky, too.