New Yorker editor David Remnick has penned a column in which he suggests that President Barack Obama’s political opponents are to blame for the nine brutal murders at the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday.
Remnick begins by likening the murders to a lynching. It is an odd analogy–isn’t mass murder horrific enough?–but Remnick’s purpose soon becomes clear. He wants to indict an entire group of people, not the individual perpetrator:
But the words attributed to the shooter are both a throwback and thoroughly contemporary: one recognizes the rhetoric of extreme reaction and racism heard so often in the era of Barack Obama. His language echoed the barely veiled epithets hurled at Obama in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns (“We want our country back!”) and the raw sewage that spewed onto Obama’s Twitter feed (@POTUS) the moment he cheerfully signed on last month. “We still hang for treason don’t we?” one @jeffgully49, who also posted an image of the President in a noose, wrote.
So the hitherto obscure @jeffgully49, with a paltry 1,419 Twitter followers, is elevated to spokesperson for the entire opposition. And the phrase “We want our country back,” a staple of Democratic presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008, is cast as a “barely veiled epithet.” (Someone forgot to tell Barack Obama.)
This is a throwback to Tucson, 2011. It is corrosive to civil debate. And it is damaging–not only to the conservatives at whom it is aimed, but also to the elitist liberals who believe it.