I don't really like to talk about politics, and apologize from the beginning.
Today two popular columnists came out with editorials criticizing the knee-jerk reaction of many to blame the events of last Saturday's shooting in Tucson on Sara Palin/The Tea Party/Conservatives/Kermit the Frog/the current political climate. They present similar ideas, but follow them to different conclusions.
Both Cal Thomas and George Will give a quick overview of several presidential assassinations, and explain that though those responsible often possessed ideological beliefs, the blame was always placed solely on the individual for his reprehensible actions, not his politics or the political climate. This is entirely reasonable; I think that everyone can come together and agree that the accused shooter, Jared Loughner, is the one to blame.
Both mention or hint at the fact that politics in the U.S. has always been contentious and express doubt that this influenced the shooter in Tucson. This is also a perfectly valid point, though some may disagree.
Will suggests that the need of some liberals to make this connection between the shooting in Tucson and the Tea Party or political climate is both due to an inherent need to link the social environment to individual behavior, and as "a tactic for avoiding engagement with ideas."
Thomas clearly doesn't see a problem with the current state of politics, saying "to end vibrant, even incendiary political rhetoric, would require the eradication of politics, itself. Other countries have such a system. They're called dictatorships."
A bit extreme, but he makes his point.
This is where the similarities between the two columns end, where George Will makes his well stated political point that by linking political ideas and rhetoric with extremism, the left “expresses limitless contempt for the American people, who have reciprocated by reducing liberalism to its current characteristics of electoral weakness and bad sociology,” and where Cal Thomas quotes some people and then says some stuff that has to be re-read, just to make sure there wasn't some mistake.
And it is regarding Thomas's last two paragraphs that I have questions. He says:
We tolerate, even promote, many things we once regarded as evil, wrong, or immoral. And then we seek "explanations" for an act that seems beyond comprehension. Remove societal restraints on some evils and one can expect the demons to be freed to conduct other evil acts.
Um, is he saying that evolution of certain social norms and toleration of beliefs or actions that some claim to be immoral or evil is responsible for what happened? Surely not. Its not like he's saying that if we tolerate immoral acts it will lead to other forms of evil like what happened on Saturday. Again, Thomas:
The fault, as Shakespeare wrote, "lies not in our stars, but in ourselves." Once tolerated, evil grows... It inevitably and predictably leads to other evils, like the tragedy in Tucson.
So, my questions for Mr. Thomas are:
1. To what "evils" and "immoral" things that we tolerate are you referring?
2. Is the Shakespeare quote meant to refer to the fault of Loughner, or the fault of Americans for tolerating and removing "societal restraints on some evils”?
3. Why did you pick this quote which was used by the Cassius to convince Brutus to turn against Caesar, ultimately resulting in his assassination?
Ok, forget number three, that's probably not relevant. But questions one and two are extremely important, for if by tolerated evils Cal Thomas means such things as homosexuality, promiscuity, drug use, abortion, and erosion of family values, and is saying that tolerating these "predictably leads to other evils, like the tragedy in Tucson," then that would seem to place him in a similar category as the universally detested Westboro Baptist Church.
I am positive that Thomas did not mean to suggest anything of the sort, but some clarification would be nice.
Ok, no more politics.