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Published January 23 2011

Nelson: Rich irony in liberals’ vile libels

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” remarked Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff. Democrats and liberals took that observation to heart. Before the gunsmoke had even dissipated after alleged murderer Jared Loughner’s massacre in Tucson, the left was accusing the right of inspiring him to the deed.

Joan Walsh, Paul Krugman, the website The Daily Kos, Arizona’s Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (proof that clowns can have badges as well as big shoes), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ad nauseum, roared that the killings were politically motivated or the indirect result of hate speech from conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Loughner is just plain crazy, nothing more. We’ll learn more about this wretched lunatic, but as of now the evidence and the FBI say he wasn’t motivated by political partisanship. Once again a beautiful liberal theory has been murdered by a gang of facts.

Thus, if there’s no connection between partisan speech and the Tucson mass murder, then linking the two makes as much sense as linking public profanity or spitting on sidewalks to the massacre.

Note how the left jumped into “tone down the rhetoric” mode as soon as it was proven wrong about the killer. It works like this: First accuse conservatives of indirect complicity with the murders through their hate speech. Clay Jenkinson – no right-winger he – on the local Mike McFeely radio show freely admitted that the Democrats started the attack. Given all this, we may dismiss the “both sides are at fault” nonsense. Then, when those smeared with indirect responsibility for the murders respond, liberals grab their smelling salts and fainting couches, wonder why we can’t get along and, heavens, how mean-spirited can their opponents get?

As others have pointed out, Obama’s advice in his Tucson memorial speech applies directly to his party and adherents: “None of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. … What we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another.”

And although Sarah Palin is too much of a neocon for my taste, her speech on the Tucson shootings was on the mark, both in its empathy for the victims and its call for unity, and also for its reprimand to those whose “mindless finger-pointing” stirred up needless rancor. Bizarrely, Palin’s very act of defending herself and others against the charge of inciting murder has been seized by the witless as proof of her meanness. Yet who wouldn’t defend himself against the libel of inciting a massacre?

Apparently liberals may level any charge they want, and conservatives have to sit back and take it. If the latter respond, then they’re told to “tone it down,” a richly ironic phrase by those who make vile, unfounded accusations.

Nelson is a Fargo postal worker and contributor to The Forum’s commentary page.