Rahm Emmanuel's notorious line "Never let a serious crisis go to waste" is a fitting description of how the left is using the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others to malign and silence political opponents.
But this is not the first time the shooting of a politician has been used to silence opposition.
Richard Pipes explained how Stalin used one such occasion to purge the Soviet Union of anti-Stalinists.
In his book, "Communism: A History," Richard Pipes sets the stage:
By 1935 … food rationing was abolished and Stalin's regime needed another crisis to justify its despotic powers. It also needed enemies.
As Fidel Castro, the leader of Communist Cuba, would explain with frankness that his Russian mentors preferred to avoid:
"The revolution needs the enemy. … The revolution needs for its development its antithesis, which is the counterrevolution."
And if enemies were lacking, they had to be fabricated.
Richard Pipes explained:
In 1934, a prominent Bolshevik, Sergei Kirov, the party boss of Lenningrad, was assassinated under mysterious conditions, circumstantial evidence points to Stalin as the instigator of the murder.
A staunch Stalinist – shortly before being murdered, Sergei Kirov hailed Stalin as the "great strategist of the liberation of the toilers of our country and the entire world!"
Kirov was gaining too much popularity in party ranks for Stalin's comfort. His assassination brought Stalin two advantages:
1) it rid him of a potential rival and 2) provided a rationale for instigating a vast campaign against alleged anti-Soviet conspirators, in the course of which he would eliminate the top cadres he had inherited from Lenin.
Joseph Stalin stated: "Crisis alone permitted the authorities to demand – and obtain – total submission and all necessary sacrifices from its citizens."
A survey of reporting on the Tucson shooting by left-leaning media outlets provides substantial evidence that they are complicit in creating the very crisis they condemn, by using hateful rhetoric in their accusations that others are using hateful rhetoric.
This is a classic diversionary tool in the play book of the politics of personal destruction: "Accuse your opponent of what you are guilty of."
David Axelrod, President Obama's top political adviser, verbalized this Machiavellian tactic in an NPR interview, April 19, 2010:
"In Chicago, there was an old tradition of throwing a brick through your own campaign office window, and then calling a press conference to say that you've been attacked," Axelrod said.
Since the shooting of Rep. Giffords, who just three days prior had voted against Nancy Pelosi for minority leader, the left is beginning again to push to restrict private gun ownership and promote its "Fairness Doctrine" – a vast campaign to silence freedom of speech by conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., complained to TheHill.com: "... part of that has to be what they are hearing over the airwaves."
Richard Pipes shared the fallout of Stalin's campaign in his book, "Communism: A History":
"The so-called purges of the 1930s were a terror campaign that in indiscriminate ferocity and number of victims had no parallel in world history. It was minutely supervised by Stalin himself, whose instructions to local authorities focused on one method: Beat them until they confess to their crimes they have not committed."
In their particular focus on Sarah Palin, the left seems to be following the "Rules for Radicals," written by famous Chicago communist community organizer Saul Alinsky:
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.' …"
"Any target can always say, 'Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?' When your 'freeze the target,' you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments. … Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the 'others' come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target …"
The left's vitriolic hatred of Sarah Palin echoes Saul Alinsky's teaching:
"One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other."
When the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy happened, Ronald Reagan gave his speech immediately, Jan. 28, 1986:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the State of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering."
For whatever reason, Obama, a former community organizer, waited patiently as the left's accusations poisoned the well of public discourse before speaking on the horrible Tucson killing of six and injuring of 14, including Rep. Giffords, whose husband, Mark Kelly, is also an astronaut.
Saul Alinsky wrote in "Rules for Radicals":
"The organizer "must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act … An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent.'"
Standing above the fray, Obama gave his eloquent speech, Jan. 12, 2011, seeming to fulfill what top Clinton official Mark Penn predicted on MSNBC's "Hardball," Nov. 5, 2010:
"The president himself has to reconnect with the people. President Obama seems removed. Remember, President Clinton reconnected through Oklahoma … because of the bombing down there. … It wasn't until that speech that he re-clicked with the American public. Obama needs a similar kind of event."
Everyone agrees the deranged, 22-year-old, pot-smoking, Marx-reading shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, acted alone, but, contrary to Rahm Emanuel's advice, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste," this horrible crisis should not be used to promote a political agenda.
May the prayers of all Americans bring comfort to the families of those who lost loved ones and may there be a miraculous recovery for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the others injured.
William J. Federer is the author of "What Every American Needs to Know About the Quran: A History of Islam and the United States."