When Clay Duke walked into a Florida school board meeting last month and attempted to shoot several people, Paul Krugman said nothing. A cynic might suggest this was because Duke’s Facebook page contained a rant about “the rich” and a list of his favorite progressive websites, including Media Matters. But Saturday, after a gunman opened fire on a crowd at Arizona Congresswoman Giffords’ public appearance at a supermarket, Krugman leapt to his keyboard to tell us who was to blame:
…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…
You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
Of course Krugman has been casting blame like this for some time. He wrote an entire column about the right’s rhetoric back in March of 2010, including a mention of Sarah Palin’s now-infamous Facebook map:
I pointed out at the time that there was nothing special about Palin’s map. I found this 2009 map from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC):
I also found this 2004 map from the Democratic Leadership Committee. Note the language in the caption:
James Fallows at the Atlantic says the question of Loughner’s motives is a legitimate discussion to have, and I agree with him. But it’s a lot easier to hand-wave about Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck than it is to sort out what might have actually motivated the shooter. Was Jared Loughner actually inspired by the Tea Party’s “violent rhetoric” or is that just a story the left wishes were true?
What little evidence we have suggests the shooter was politically liberal, at least we know for certain that he was in 2007. Caitie Parker went to high school and college with Jared Loughner. She was even in an alternative rock band with him. She described his political outlook as “left wing, quite liberal.” She also notes that he was heavily involved with drugs and alcohol which may have led to him becoming reclusive. More recent acquaintances of Jared’s suggest he was disturbed:
“He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts,” said Lynda Sorenson, who took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College’s Northwest campus. Sorenson doesn’t recall if he ever made any threats or uttered political statements but he was very disruptive, she said. He was asked to leave the pre-algebra class several times and eventually was barred from class, said Sorenson, a Tucson resident.
I think it’s likely that Loughner’s politics are far less important to this story than his mental state. I am not a doctor but watching his You Tube videos–full of odd syllogisms and references to mind control–you do get the feeling that he was losing touch with reality. His postings on the website Above Top Secret under the partial-anagram erad3, use the same disjointed phrasing. There was clearly something wrong with Jared’s mind.
But Paul Krugman can’t be bothered to look too closely at the facts or even to rationally discuss his views with readers (he shut off comments on his post). All he wants is a chance to play the prophet, warning of the coming calamity that will befall the nation should the right-wing fail to repent. But his divergent reactions to recent events tell us all we need to know about his motives. In the case of Clay Duke, seeing no angle to advance his agenda, he fell silent. Just three weeks later, he is only too happy to dump gasoline on the rhetorical fire, even as he decries overheated partisan rhetoric. Calling his cheap, politically motivated smear despicable is probably too kind.