Sunday, January 9, 2011

Blood libel, pure and simple

On 8 January 2010, a whackjob anarchist attempted to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Gifford, D-AZ.  He succeeded in killing six others, including a federal judge and a 9 year old girl.  Before you could blink, the usual suspects had come up with a dubious theory--call it political "climate change"--with which to bludgeon in one go:

  1. conservatives, Tea Partiers and Republicans,

  2. white people,

  3. gun owners,

  4. TV and talk radio personalities and Sarah Palin,

  5. the plurality of Americans who oppose Obamacare, and

  6. the outright majority (including a plurality of Latinos) who decry illegal immigration and the pitiful state of American border security.

This broad cross-section of America has already been accused of racism, greed, bloodthirstiness and generally being uninformed by partisans in the blogosphere, a view only somewhat muted for play in the general media.  And now, the American electorate as a whole must endure again the worst indignity the chattering class can conjure: blood libel.

We've seen this play out before.  In 1995, Bill Clinton's presidency was on the ropes.  Americans concerned with federal overreach in the wake of Ruby Ridge, Waco, a federal ban on several classes of semi-automatic weapons, and tax increases showed the Democrats the door in the prior midterm elections.  And then Oklahoma City was rocked by a car bomb placed by yet another anarchist nutcase.  As soon as Timothy McVeigh's involvement was clear, only two things mattered.  He'd once claimed membership in the NRA, he was a registered Republican, he owned (and, less widely reported, notoriously disagreed with) Aryan supremacist literature, and he owned a handful firearms out of the 160 million circulating through the country.  It didn't take long for the Democrats and the media to elevate McVeigh to proxy for anyone who denounced an intrusive state, went to church regularly, owned a gun, or appreciated the Anglosphere heritage of the American body politic.

The conservative leadership in DC endured this insult, on the theory that "empathy" called for a whipping boy and the new Republican congressional majority should solemnly assume the role.  But in scapegoating themselves, they scapegoated an entire movement.  Bill Clinton got his second term.  The image of conservatives as bigoted, hateful, and violent barbarians enabled by greedy opportunists permeated into the popular culture. There is no quiet dignity in blood libel, only self-emasculating humiliation.  Conservatives have a right to get angry about this ongoing stain on our honor.  Our so-called countrymen collude to:

  1. confiscate the land of a citizen to turn over illegal aliens stains the honor of all Americans,

  2. imprison law-abiding gun owners, and

  3. end the career of a widely respected naval aviator and commander of an American aircraft carrier

Will we now tolerate being accused of conspiracy to murder a sitting Congresswoman?

Reactions across the space blogosphere:

  1. Rand Simberg reminds us to take a breath, stop pretending every evil in the world can be foiled, and get on with the business of the country.  Probably the most sane advice you'll read for the next few days.

  2. Bob Zimmerman contrasts American and foreign Muslim reactions to assassinations.

  3. Phil Plait descends into liberal demagoguery (as expected) while demanding we not jump to conclusions about the shooter (also as expected).

Update: Glenn Reynolds drags "blood libel" into the light.


  1. I find it interesting that Phil Plait is somewhat ambiguously mentioned in this posting. I read his blog posting (to which you replied with apparent disregard to what he actually said), and it didn't read as a descent to anything. He made his political position clear (a disclaimer that any credible writer would do well to include), and stated that the theories which you seem to abhor had no support in the facts at this time. Seems like he was supporting your cause if anything. Your response seemed to completely miss the point of his post, which was to not jump to conclusions while evidence is still scant.

    I hope that in the future all views can be expressed with more tolerance and intelligence from all sides of issues like this.

  2. @Joel:

    There's an unbridgeable gulf between Phil's views and mine where it concerns militant rhetoric (and likely action). I'm for it, he's not. That's besides the point. By the time his remarks were up, it was clear that the shooter would not fit the Left's preferred profile.

    So now we have all this jawboning about an atmosphere of violence created by supposedly over-the-top conservative personalities. This fits with the Left's pattern of manufacturing "teachable moments" out of crises and tragedies for the sole purpose of vilifying the right, and in these particularly gruesome cases the insult is worthy of the term "blood libel."

  3. Maybe its time we put Phil Plait in the crosshairs.

  4. [...] Blood libel. Glenn Reynolds couldn’t have picked a better term (incidentally, the day after someone else did). Conservative bloggers quickly latched on to the war cry while liberals, either oblivious or [...]