I can remember that at some point during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, there was news that Henry Kissinger and other diplomats were getting nice and busy trying to bring about a cessation of hostilities. And I remember my mother saying, “Every time the Israelis start winning, everyone starts talking about peace.”
I’m reminded of this as “reasonable” people all over TV and the Congress are soberly intoning that the time has come for everyone to tone it down. And these are, as I’ve pointed out, many of the same people who either spent eight years bashing Bush and Cheney in the most ugly manner, or who were discussing such vitriol as if it were the normal and acceptable course of political conversation.
The sudden recourse to reasonableness and the attempted social ban on “angry” rhetoric is little more than an effort to shut conservatives up. If the president calls for quiet when he speaks this evening in Tucson, he is joining those on the left who want to wire the jaws of their opponents shut. No matter if he tries to seem independent and call for “all sides” to make nice. He never, as far as I know, called for tempering criticism of Republicans during the Bush presidency. If he does it now, he’s taking sides.
And he shouldn’t have done it then either. Raucous debate is our nature and our heritage, ever since John Adams called Alexander Hamilton “the bastard brat of a Scotch peddler.” Things have never been tame.
Ironically, one of the few who took some time to reflect before reacting to the Tucson shootings is the very person in the, um, cross hairs of those who shot their mouths off without thinking, Sarah Palin. Here’s what she said. Liberals who think they have 40 IQ points on her could learn something. Her words are among the most eloquent I’ve heard.
Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.
There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government.
Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.
It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.
One of our readers, Granny Jan, who blogs at Granny Jan and Jihad Kitty, has put together a video compendium of some of Obama’s own incendiary remarks. Unfortunately, the comments completely contradict the image Obama originally presented us as someone who is post-partisan uniter, above the fray. But otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with them. If that’s who he truly is, he should do more of it.