I know Ed mentioned it earlier but I think it deserves its own post. So random and haphazard is this that I can’t even tell if Kerrey means Loughner was angry about the original health-care bill that passed in March (i.e. the “rabid tea partier” narrative) or the repeal bill that the House will vote on next week (which Kerrey explicitly mentions here). Presumably it’s the former. There’s not a shred of evidence I know of to support his theory and Kerrey himself seems to breeze past it as if it’s an afterthought, quickly qualifying it by noting that Loughner’s obviously disturbed and that his politics aren’t of much significance. But maybe that’s the point — that we’ve now reached the point with this story where the facts are so tangential and egregious smears so casual that this bubbled up to his lips almost instinctively. The past two days have been the media equivalent of a 50-car pile-up, the “conservatives did it!” narrative crashing headlong into the fact of this guy’s apolitical madness over and over again. Sometimes, as Karl notes, it’s framed in a faux-objective way, sometimes it’s right in your face, other times it’s delivered without a scrap of irony by liberals who have themselves threatened to knock tea partiers’ teeth out. It’s too hard to stay on top of all of it, but here’s my favorite example from the past few hours — the chancellor of UC-Berkeley inducting himself into the self-parody hall of fame: .
Such a brutal and violent attack on an individual who has devoted herself to public service is deeply regrettable. It calls upon us as an academic community to stop and ponder the climate in which such an act can be contemplated, even by a mind that is profoundly disturbed. A climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech is tolerated can lead to such a tragedy. I believe that it is not a coincidence that this tragedy has occurred in a state which has legislated discrimination against undocumented persons. This same mean-spirited xenophobia played a major role in the defeat of the Dream Act by our legislators in Washington, leaving many exceptionally talented and deserving young people, including our own undocumented students, painfully in limbo with regard to their futures in this country.
On our own campus, and throughout all the campuses of the University of California, we must continue to work toward a climate of equity and inclusion for all. We must be vigilant to condemn hate speech and acts of vandalism on our campuses by those wanting to promote enmity. We must work to support dialogue about our differences and eschew expressions of demonization of others, including virulent attacks on Israel, anti-Muslim graffiti, racism towards African-Americans, Chicano/Latinos and other underrepresented minority groups, and homophobic acts. Continuing to support our principles of community will ensure a better and safer campus. We must do this now so that our students, as future leaders of this great country, will continue to set the standard for a better and safer nation.
Italics his. Thus does a warning about not demonizing others segue instantly into accusations of “mean-spirited xenophobia” and a search for Loughner’s motive lead to hazy assertions about a political “climate.” This from a professional educator — whose background, if you can believe it, is in hard science. Proof is important in physics but not so much in life, I guess.
Kerrey seems ready to detour around the 50-car pile-up at the start of the clip, but then before you know it — bam. Ah well. Not the first time a center-left politician has talked out of his ass to blame political violence on opposition to ObamaCare, and surely not the last. George Will has an op-ed out today describing the left’s demagoguery of the shooting as a form of McCarthyism (“devoid of intellectual content, unsupported by data”), but my preferred cliche as I watched the coverage this weekend was Orwell. As a friend said on Twitter, when the Soviets framed someone for a political crime, at least they had the decency to plant some fake evidence to back it up. We’re actually past that point now, with analyses being written about the impact this will have on Sarah Palin’s political future even though there’s no evidence that Loughner was influenced by her in any way. When you’re building a theory of a murder to support your political agenda based on nothing, that’s not “news.” It’s propaganda. Click the image to watch.