Hitting the target, missing the point
I want to say something about the Giffords shooting that so far no one else has said, least of all Democrats. It wasn’t, as many left wing pundits have been quick to cry, the Republicans’ fault. It was not vitriolic rhetoric, nor inflammatory rhetoric, nor harsh rhetoric, nor even heated rhetoric that caused this. It was not Sarah Palin, or Michelle Bachman, or even Fox News. As far as I’m concerned, the net of blame must be cast much wider.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I am taking a wimpy stand a la Mr. Bloomberg or Ezra Klein. Folks who use violent rhetoric are simply participating in a much larger culture of violence. It represents a huge chunk of mainstream American culture–instances of extreme violence are commonplace in movies, in TV, and in video games. And what’s more, in most cases the violence is acceptable. In the movies the good guy has to kill some people for the greater good. On TV, Jack Bauer makes it acceptable to torture the enemy. Kids are blowing peoples heads apart in video games before they learn algebra.
To target a few politicians for their participation in such a culture, or for deliberately tapping into the violent mentality that already pervades much of American thought is beside the point, counterproductive even. Such accusations take the focus off the real culprit, cultural violence, with whom we are all complicit.