It’s not Ross Douthat or David Brooks, either, but Charles Blow — the same writer who once called black Tea Party activists a “political minstrel show.” Blow admits that the temptation to lay the blame for the shootings in Tucson on the Right was strong, but that in doing so, and in insisting on sticking with the attacks after all the evidence showed that the shooter was an apolitical lunatic, the Left have adopted an “any means necessary” approach that will destroy their credibility:
According to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday, 42 percent of those asked said that political rhetoric was not a factor at all in the shooting, 22 percent said that it was a minor factor and 20 percent said that it was a major factor. Furthermore, most agreed that focusing on conservative rhetoric as a link in the shooting was “not a legitimate point but mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad.” And nearly an equal number of people said that Republicans, the Tea Party and Democrats had all “gone too far in using inflammatory language” to criticize their opponents.
Great. So the left overreacts and overreaches and it only accomplishes two things: fostering sympathy for its opponents and nurturing a false equivalence within the body politic. Well done, Democrats.
Now we’ve settled into the by-any-means-necessary argument: anything that gets us to focus on the rhetoric and tamp it down is a good thing. But a wrong in the service of righteousness is no less wrong, no less corrosive, no less a menace to the very righteousness it’s meant to support.
You can’t claim the higher ground in a pit of quicksand.
Blow doesn’t quite reach the moral high ground himself in this piece, insisting that the “preponderance” of violent rhetoric exists on the Right, and that it will spark “massacres like the one in Tuscon,” with no evidence whatsoever to this end. We can replay the eight years of the Bush administration’s critics and their own rhetoric, or the antiwar protesters who marched with a sign that asked troops to frag the officers commanding them, most of which went completely unremarked by Blow and his colleagues. But at least Blow retains enough integrity to admit that the Right had nothing to do with the shootings in Tucson and that the Left deliberately exploited it to smear conservatives.