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Don't blame Arizona

The Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 other people has been center stage in the news for a week now. That is understandable. What is truly bizarre is how people with no known connection to the shooting living thousands of miles from Arizona became the focus of the news coverage.

The tea-party movement and talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are being asked by prominent pundits and Democrat leaders to “tone down the rhetoric” – when the shooter had no involvement whatsoever in conservative politics, grass-roots or otherwise.

The shooter, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, has a history of bizarre behavior, but according to statements by friends and former school classmates, he did not listen to talk radio, watch Fox News or engage in political activity on the left or the right. Although described by friends as left-wing in his high school years, he lived in his own world, not the world of conventional liberal or conservative politics. Yet, somehow, according to our most visible pundits, the American political culture is deemed to have “inspired” his violent acts.

This is premium-quality hogwash. It is also a calculated and deliberate slander on Arizona and America, intended to intimidate and silence the tea-party movement and conservatives generally.

And the most bizarre thing of all is that the slander may succeed.

Yes, it is true that the mainstream media backed off their ridiculous theme after an avalanche of information about the shooter surfaced. It soon became clear to everyone that Loughner had no connection to the tea-party movement or talk radio. In his Tucson speech, President Obama had to rein in his party’s hit squads because even the Washington Post’s media ombudsman, Howard Kurtz, had criticized the media for its twisted coverage of the event.

But unfortunately, you cannot un-ring the bell. Once the smell of blood is in the air, liberals cannot call off their hounds. The call for a “new civility” is irresistible.

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There is nothing in Arizona’s political climate or America’s political culture that inspired or provoked Jared Loughner’s murderous rampage. But there is much in our nation’s current political culture that condones and rewards slander of Arizona in the hope of derailing the grass-roots revolt against unconstitutional expansions of government power.

The near-instantaneous attack on Arizona’s political climate by liberal politicians and their media allies we all witnessed following the Tucson shooting is evidence of two things – the American left’s desperation in the wake of the 2010 elections and their utter lack of scruples in advancing their agenda.

Consider the political context of this event. Arizona is not just one of 50 states that had elections only two months ago. Arizona has borne the brunt of the illegal-alien invasion and since 2004 has enacted several strong measures in response to that invasion. That response culminated last April in the enactment of SB 1070, making it a violation of state law to be in the state unlawfully. Finally, last November, the Republican tsunami swept larger Republican majorities into the state legislature and re-elected Gov. Jan Brewer by a huge margin. Thus, in the view of Democrats, Arizona and the tea-party movement needed to be punished, and this was the perfect opportunity to do that.

Liberals in politics and the media reacted instinctively to the news of the Tucson shooting. Even before anything was known about the shooter, Democrat Arizona State Sen. Linda Lopez was on the air speculating whether or not the attacks on Rep. Giffords by the tea-party movement in 2010 could have inspired the attempted assassination. Within hours, Democrat Pima County Sheriff Dupnik gratuitously offered his own slanderous theories of the killer’s motivations for a national television audience. National media began giving Dupnik a dozen national – or more precisely, global – soap boxes to spread his own brand of self-serving venom.

Sheriff Dupnik stooped to a new low in partisan mendacity in his slander of Tucson and all of Arizona as the “new Mecca for prejudice and hate.” Yet by the time President Obama flew into Tucson four days after the shooting, it was obvious that Dupnik’s warped views were not shared by other Arizona leaders – or the nation as a whole. Indeed, Obama’s remarks at the memorial service can only be seen as a rebuke to Dupnik and other excesses of demonization.

The lesson here is that nothing is beneath the dignity or the ethics of the American left when it comes to seeking political advantage in a moment of national tragedy. We should not be surprised by this behavior, but somehow, we are. Maybe our shock is a good thing, a sign that some tactics are so reprehensible they have not yet become standard fare. Let’s hope that is the case.