The Political Blame-Game-Feeding-Frenzy

First off, I’m really, really bothered about the politicization of the shooting in Arizona. The fact that people are trying to pin the actions of a clearly disturbed individual on a political position is wrong. I’m glad to have heard that Hillary Clinton condemned the effort and announced that the shooter had his own political position.  Back in the 80s when heavy metal bands were being sued for causing misguided youth to commit suicide, it was the political left who pooh-pawed the notion that depressing, death-oriented lyrics could in any way contribute to the actions of the people who listened to them over and over again. They talked of the Conservatives as if they were paranoid. Fast forward 30 years and now the Left is trying to say that the talk radio rhetoric of the Right is what lead this and the Right is claiming that that kind of thing doesn’t happen.

But that is the end of the political wrangling about this story and so I have more to say. Sarah Palin released a video that condemned the effort of trying to vilify an entire political position based on the actions of one crazed individual. Obviously I agree with her on this point. More about Ms. Palin in a moment. Slate Magazine did what appears to be the automatic reflexive response of the Left to anything Palin says, they criticized her. The story’s subtitle is “Sarah Palin opposes collective blame for monstrous crimes, unless they’re committed by Muslims.” This struck me as really interesting. The piece is written by William Saletan whom I’ve bagged on before. He said:

That’s what Palin believes. Each person is solely accountable for his actions. Acts of monstrous criminality “begin and end with the criminals who commit them.” It’s wrong to hold others of the same nationality, ethnicity, or religion “collectively” responsible for mass murders.

Unless, of course, you’re talking about Muslims. In that case, Palin is fine with collective blame.

At first, and if you don’t really think about this much, you may think he’s on to something, it does seem hypocritical. Except. Ms. Palin is careful to say it was “Islamic extremists” who carried out the 9/11 attack, not just Muslims in general. On top of that, there is a long list of Islamic extremists killing thousands of people. There is no question that they are Muslim, even if they have pressed their religion to an extreme. But with the Arizona shooter, he can’t really be described as a “Conservative Political extremist” and we don’t have a history of people murdering in the name of Conservative politics.

So if you look at it a bit more carefully than Saletan did, you can see that Palin isn’t guilty of a double-standard on this. But that would ruin a perfectly good slam piece.

Still, don’t place a halo on Palin just yet. Further on in her statement she said that trying to assign the blame to Conservatives amounted to “blood liable”. I had no idea what that curious phrase meant. Last night I listened to a report on NPR and it took them a few minutes to explain the phrase and why I should be offended by Palin’s use of it. Had I not listened to this I would have totally forgotten it. I am assuming that Palin or a staffer did know what that phrase meant and used it anyway. If they didn’t know and didn’t research it was pretty reckless. If they did know, it is even worse. But Saletan isn’t content to let the blame rest on her head for this, no, he actually decided to share in it:

Palin’s campaign against any Muslim house of worship near Ground Zero, based on group blame for terrorism, fits that definition [of blood liable] more closely than does any current accusation against the Tea Party.

Okay, the political blame-game-feeding-frenzy has got to end. I know, it doesn’t make for exciting political punditry but it is a more responsible use of our democratic freedoms. I wish we could more civilly disagree in politics, but that doesn’t make for good blog posts or TV news reporting.

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