Eric Fuller’s career as the new unimpeachable voice of the Left came to an abrupt end on Saturday. The 63-year-old veteran, wounded in the Tucson rampage, went completely off the deep end at a Tea Party rally. Calling other members of the audience “whores,” Fuller snapped a photo of Tucson Tea Party co-founder Trent Humphries and told him, “You’re dead.” Fuller was arrested for disorderly conduct and hauled off for a psychiatric evaluation. He’s an outspoken believer in the “Climate of Hate” narrative that paints conservatives as accessories to murder.
Mr. Humphries says he’s received dozens of angry emails accusing his organization of some role in the Giffords shooting. Meanwhile, the primary target of the Tucson blood libel, Sarah Palin, has seen an “incredible increase in death threats since the tragedy in Arizona, since she’s been accused of having the blood of those victims on her hands,” according to an aide.
Eric Fuller’s meltdown came after a week of wall-to-wall media coverage that desperately tried to create some tenuous linkage between conservatives and the Tucson shootings. It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Democrats or the New York Times editorial board. But it is legitimate to hold Democrats, and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media, responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the left have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing those who desire border security, or the rich, or businessmen. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that conservatives are not just misguided, but enemies of the people.
Does that paragraph sound harsh? Well, don’t blame me. All but the first sentence comes directly from the New York Times editorial on January 9, word for word. I just changed the groups singled out for blame and protection.
Let’s pause to give the “Climate of Hate” zombie another good, stiff whack in the head with the shovel of reason. Democrats and media liberals aren’t responsible for Eric Fuller’s behavior. He’s a bitter, hateful man suffering some kind of breakdown. I will no more hold their free speech accountable for driving him around the bend than I will allow irresponsible charlatans like the Times editors to blame conservatives for Jared Loughner. No matter how incendiary the rhetoric of media liberals has become, the people who level death threats against Tea Party leaders or Sarah Palin must answer for their own actions.
Having said that, what we have seen over the past week is among the most spectacular examples of media malpractice in our lifetimes, a Great Disqualification which demonstrates those behind the blood libel are unfit to participate in our national discourse.
Some of them sense they have gone too far. The New York Times tried to exonerate itself by throwing its behavior of the past week down the memory hole, producing an astonishing editorial for January 17 in which they insist they “did not actually blame the right for Mr. Loughner’s actions.” Incredibly, they try to back this up by quoting the first line from their January 9 editorial – “It is facile and mistaken to attribute this madman’s act directly to Republicans” – without mentioning the line that follows, which said it was “legitimate to hold Republicans, and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media, responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.” The title of this editorial, by the way, was “Bloodshed and Invective.” They most assuredly were not referring to liberal invective.
The media created its “Climate of Hate” narrative out of nothing. They didn’t just leap to a few hasty conclusions in the hours after the shooting, then back down and apologize to Palin or the Tea Party for slandering them. They’ve adjusted the storyline constantly in a fevered attempt to keep it alive, even as new revelations about Jared Loughner revealed he had absolutely no connection whatsoever to talk radio or conservatives.
Imagine what the media would be doing today if there had been the slightest shred of evidence that Loughner was a Rush Limbaugh fan, or belonged to a Tea Party group. The Climate of Hate narrative would be pushed even more forcefully, though it would be no less ridiculous… just as it would be absurd to hold Gabrielle Giffords responsible for the actions of her devoted follower, Eric Fuller.
Do you truly desire a more civil tone to our energetic discourse? If so, you must honestly confront what you’ve seen this week: a carefully designed and packaged narrative, whose goal was to silence conservatives by smearing them as accomplices to murder. The people responsible for producing and sustaining that narrative are hatemongers – there is no more appropriate word – and they are liberals. They had a hundred chances to back off, and they did not. They deliberate injected one of the most divisive toxins ever formulated into our national bloodstream.
Responsible discourse is only possible when such people are excluded from it. It’s painfully clear they won’t clean up their act unless the American people force them to. They used the blood spilled in Tucson as ink to write an outrageous slander. There is no place in a reasoned discussion for those who saw mass murder as a wonderful opportunity to score some points against their political adversaries. There can be no measured debate with those who claim opposing ideas are murder weapons. Great and fateful debates lie ahead for America. The engineers of the “Climate of Hate” narrative have disqualified themselves from participating.