Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Liberal Narrative: Its Deja Vu All Over Again

The media reaction to the Giffords shooting last week followed a predictable and tired old script. As Yogi Berra, the most famous mangler of the English language prior to George W. Bush, said: "It's deja vu all over again." Jonathan Kay's terrific piece in today's National Post makes this point forcefully:
"An American politician takes a bullet to the head in broad daylight. Three days later, under the headline “The spiral of hate,” The New York Times editorial board has this to say about it: “None of us can escape a share of the fault for the spiral of unreason and violence that has now found expression in [gunfire].” In the same spirit, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court blames the act on “the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.” A leading Christian leader adds that the shooting stemmed from a “sin in the hearts of man not only in this country, but the world over. That is, the sin of prejudice.”

Unreason. Hatred. Bitterness. Prejudice. This more or less summarizes the liberal chorus heard in the days after the Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. But all of the words quoted in the paragraph above were spoken or printed in 1963, in the days immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Then, just as now, the American intelligentsia felt a reflexive certainty that what they’d witnessed was not an act perpetrated by just one man, but rather a mere symptom of a great body of societal evil.

Just as initial media commentaries about Jared Lee Loughner’s crazed act focused on right-wing opposition to health-care reform and immigration, many 1963-era journalists assumed that Lee Harvey Oswald’s act of murder was, in some vague way, connected to the Civil Rights Act. The day after JFK’s death, the Times printed an article entitled “Why America Weeps: Kennedy Victim of Violent Streak He Sought To Curb In Nation,” promoting the idea that JFK’s killer somehow stood in moral solidarity with “those who wanted to be more violent in the racial war.” Playing on this notion, President Lyndon Johnson would tell Congress, two days after JFK’s funeral, “no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honour President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill.”

All of this was nonsense. Just as Loughner is a clinical lunatic whose views have nothing to do with politics or race relations (he once told his community-college professor that the numbers 6 and 18 are actually the same), so too was Oswald a devout Marxist whose views had nothing to do with right-wing politics."

Read the rest here.

The official liberal narrative is that the Right is made up of ignorant yahoos from the South who are angry and always ready to lash out against anybody who challenges the status quo in the name of justice. Liberals, on the other hand, are thoughtful, urban, educated people who are never angry, just sad at the conservative tendency to "over-simplify" and "over-react." This narrative is very appealing because it relieves the individual of the need to think for himself in that it allows one to function efficiently within the bubble of the liberal environment of academia without worrying that the party line might be wrong on this or that point.

I had a frustrating conversation the other day with a person whose liberal prejudices forced him to think out of this narrative so totally that he could not quite get his head around the fact that I was an intellectual, well-read, thinking person who had lost my liberal faith. Liberals seldom meet people like me and find it hard to quite believe we exist.

Kay is right to see the parallels between the Kennedy assassination and the Giffords shooting, although there is actually one crucially important difference. The best evidence we have is that Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist and ideologically motivated, whereas Loughner is just mentally ill. While Loughner is not an example of the truth of the liberal narrative, Oswald actually contradicts it. He is an example of unreasoning, hateful, left-wing violence.

Yet Kay is right to observe that:
Even after all the reporting that’s been done on Loughner’s past, the myth that he is in some way emblematic of Tea Party culture likely will remain embedded in American political lore, just as left-wing conspiracy theorists still claim Oswald was a front man for the CIA and the military-industrial complex. As the JFK example shows, the modern, politically engaged mind is drawn to interpret every fresh tragedy through the lens of their pre-existing dogmas.
The damage was done in the first 48-72 hours after the shooting. The lies were spread and the narrative constructed before anyone even knew the facts about who Loughner was one way or the other. This was deliberate. As the old saying goes, "a lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its pants on." In this case, there will always be a subliminal link in the public consciousness between Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the Tea Party, and this tragic act of violence. This lie will not be overturned by the facts because the pre-existing narrative embraced by liberals is stronger than facts and evidence. The lie fits the paradigm but the facts do not; so much the worse for the facts. Philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, explained the power of the paradigm in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Of course, there are other inconvenient truths about this incident. One is the way the attempt to tie Sarah Palin to murder has contributed to an unleashing of hatred against her. It is so bad that it would not be a surprise if some left-wing nut went after her with a gun or a knife. Here is a story about the filth and violent talk recently observed on Twitter. The Left is quite calm about violence against conservatives. Whatever they may say for public consumption the truth is that hard core leftists consider revolutionary violence to be justifiable and the more squishy liberals just keep their mouths shut when violence against conservatives occurs.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking; the leftist narrative marches on. And it's deja vu all over again and again.

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