I admit that when I heard the news that an Arizona politician had been shot, the first things to flash through my mind were SB 1070 … illegal immigrants … Machete.
Of course, once I learned more details about Gabrielle Giffords and her shooter, I recognized that the bloody incident had nothing to do with an illegal immigrant backlash. Giffrods is a so-called “Blue Dog” Democrat; she claims to support border security, though not SB 1070. Giffords's father has informed the NY Post, the “whole tea party" was against her.
Judging by his YouTube profile and his utterly incomprehensible videos, the assailant, Jared Loughner, doesn’t seem to be a Tea Partier at all; his stated interests vary from Mein Kampf (you can bet this will get repeated by the media ad nauseam) to The Communist Manifesto to Gulliver’s Travels.
But it doesn’t really matter whom this disturbed soul liked to read, there is no doubt in my mind that the attack will be spun as revealing dangerous "hate" emanating from the Right.
Paul Krugman came out guns blazing in this regard:
We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.
Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.
Krugman showed real restraint waiting until paragraph two before mentioning Oklahoma City.
I would go as far to say that even if Giffords were attacked by a squatty, pot-marked former Federale day-laborer—even then!—the Krugmans of the world and most of the media would cast blame on conservative, White Americans, who, it would be claimed, inspired a dangerous “climate of fear and suspicion” in their opposition to Obama’s healthcare reforms.
As James Piereson relates, though a Marxist and Fidel Castro devotee was held responsible for the assignation of John F. Kennedy, in the ’64 election, this didn’t stop the linkage of Goldwater and the conservatives to a vague right-wing “anger” and “extremism” that had led to the president’s death.
There is no reason to suspect that anyone in the American media has acquired shame or dignity in the meantime.