In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.
President Obama was right when he told Americans, “we don’t know all the answers yet” and cautioned everyone against “jumping to conclusions.”
Unverified reports, some from his family members, suggest that Major Hasan complained of harassment by fellow soldiers for being a Muslim, that he hoped to get out of a deployment to Afghanistan, that he sought a discharge from the Army and that he opposed the American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were reports that some soldiers said they had heard him shout “God is Great” in Arabic before he started firing. But until investigations are complete, no one can begin to imagine what could possibly have motivated this latest appalling rampage.
There may never be an explanation. And, certainly, there can never be a justification.
Oh, wait. That wasn’t what the Times said following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. That’s what the paper said after the Fort Hood massacre.
Sorry about that.
It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.
That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal.
Its gun laws are among the most lenient, allowing even a disturbed man like Mr. Loughner to buy a pistol and carry it concealed without a special permit. That was before the Tucson rampage. Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.
Hat tip: Hot Air.
This is, of course, what is described as “objective journalism” from what bills itself as America’s newspaper of record.
The Times isn’t alone in attempting to insult and disparage conservatives for the actions of a man who is clearly a lunatic and whose paper trail shows no evidence whatsoever that his political philosophy animated a shooting of Giffords. All weekend long we’ve seen this narrative building, just as it did last February when Joseph Stack flew a small plane into the building housing the IRS offices in Austin, Texas. Stack was styled a Tea Partier right up to the point his manifesto surfaced and showed his politics to be the far-left mentality. As soon as that document surfaced, Stack’s story disappeared from the radar.
Actually as House Democrats go Giffords would hardly be the most objectionable member of Congress; she had a Tea Party opponent, Jesse Kelly, in November who gave her a good run for her money, but her voting record isn’t all that bad. In 2009 the American Conservative Union rated her a “20,” which indicated she wasn’t a down-the-line liberal (by comparison, “Blue Dog” Democrats Charlie Melancon, Bart Stupak and Ike Skelton scored 27, 16 and 21, respectively). Giffords’ politics would hardly be of the variety to animate the imaginary right-wing death squads the legacy media seems to want to cover.
To the extent the analysis of Loughner is driven legitimately by a desire to understand the horror of what he did on Saturday, what he proved was that evil does exist in the world. And true, unvarnished evil – the variety he displayed when he killed a nine-year old child, a federal judge and four other victims while wounding Giffords and several others – doesn’t conform to a political party or political movement. Loughner’s brand of evil doesn’t attract followers or compatriots.
It is solitary, unappealing and indecipherable.