the Maine Gabrielle Giffords!” For the ideological faction that views itself as the more cerebral of the two major parties in the U.S., the Democrats sure have a knack for making themselves look stupid. It is worth recalling the riot act read to conservatives by one of the left’s “brightest” intellects, Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote in the aftermath of the shooting that killed six and ended the Congresswoman’s career:
When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?
I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008 campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.
It’s important to be clear here about the nature of our sickness. It’s not a general lack of “civility,” the favorite term of pundits who want to wish away fundamental policy disagreements. Politeness may be a virtue, but there’s a big difference between bad manners and calls, explicit or implicit, for violence; insults aren’t the same as incitement.
Ahh, there’s that word: civility. It rose to number one on the word-of-the-day charts, along with its antithesis — incivility — which at the time became the generalized diagnosis of everyone on the right. The president of the United States spoke in Tuscon about the need for civility in future political conversations. So did Krugman in the same 2011 Times essay:
The point is that there’s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn’t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary. [Emphasis added]
Tell that to the hordes of angry Obama supporters who have made threats on the life of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for the crime of questioning Barack Obama’s love of America.
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