Michael Kinsley: Hey, Let’s Blame the Right Some More

posted at 1:50 pm on January 18, 2011 by John Sexton

Writing today at Politico, Michael Kinsley says the right is escaping the blame it deserves for the Arizona shootings:

The vast right-wing conspiracy has played President Barack Obama like a violin…In just a few days, it has become the height of political incorrectness to suggest there might be any connection between the voices on right-wing talk radio and the voices in Jared Lee Loughner’s head.

He’s right about the shift in approach. In fact, just today Time magazine has a piece on Loughner which contains the following arresting statement:

[S]aying Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck caused Loughner’s actions is, to put it charitably, completely idiotic.

Kinsley disagrees. He sees a theme to Loughner’s ideology which deserves more media attention:

Well, let’s see. The dominant theme of Loughner’s ravings was suspicion of the government. He apparently didn’t believe in paper money and thought only gold has value. He believed the government was responsible for Sept. 11. And so on. This is not a random collection of nutty opinions. There is a theme to it, and it is not simply that the guy was crazy…

So wherever could Loughner have gotten his paranoid contempt for government? Who told him that the government was this hulking, all-powerful “other” determined to control and ruin his life? Official answer: He’s crazy! What more do you need to know?

This would be a stronger argument if there wasn’t fairly convincing, even overwhelming, evidence that Loughner is indeed “crazy.” And if he genuinely is mentally ill, then his paranoia didn’t have to come from anywhere.

But as I noted this morning, there is solid evidence (both testimonial and circumstantial) that Loughner’s ideology came not from the right but from the left. His distrust of government, obsession with monetary systems, even his atheism and trutherism are all major themes of the film series Zeitgeist. Loughner’s best friend is on record saying that Jared was obsessed with the ideas in these films.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but here’s how the NY Times described the movement surrounding these films in 2009:

In his goatee and mustache and tieless in a brown suit, Mr. Joseph had been lecturing for nearly 90 minutes on the unsustainable nature of the money-based economy — on cyclical consumption, planned obsolescence, corporate malfeasance and piles of poisonous waste. “It’s time that we wake up,” he intoned, speaking solemnly through a wireless clip-on mike. “The doomsday scenario, the big contraction, might be happening right now. The system of monetary exchange is — in the face of advancing technology — completely obsolete.”…

“The mission of the movement is the application of the scientific method for social change,” Mr. Joseph announced by way of introduction. The evening, which began at 7 with a two-hour critique of monetary economics, became by midnight a utopian presentation of a money-free and computer-driven vision of the future, a wholesale reimagination of civilization, as if Karl Marx and Carl Sagan had hired John Lennon from his “Imagine” days to do no less than redesign the underlying structures of planetary life.

Sound right-wing to you?

Does Kinsley want us to overlook the actual source of Loughner’s ideology in order to focus on the talk radio Loughner never listened to? That makes even less sense than not discussing it at all. I suppose a more charitable read is that Kinsley is simply unaware of the Zeitgeist connection. But ten days on, it’s well past time for Kinsley and others to get the facts before hitting the keyboard.


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