The Republican Jewish Coalition’s tweeter (RJCHQ) has evinced, throughout the day, increasing frustration with Democrats who have suggested that a reexamination of the political climate is in order after the Tucson massacre.
Here are some examples:
George Will blasts (#CanWeStillSay ‘blasts’?) lefty ‘charlatans’ 4 ‘McCarthyism,’ avoiding engagement with ideas. Preach! http://is.gd/kvo7B
Also from yesterday: "Have They No Decency? The Left’s Creepy Zeal to Reap a Political Advantage from Tucson Shootings" http://is.gd/kul06
A particular RJC target has been Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who decried the fraught political climate prior to Gabrielle Giffords’ reelection and called for soul-searching:
MT @ADL_National calls for thorough investigation into shooter’s motives http://tinyurl.com/24gnsxm //Lauds Dupnik’s irresponsible musings
The RJC tweet that has caught the most attention, however, is a retweet of someone handled AmericanShadow:
C. W. Dupnik, Pima County sheriff, said it was time to do soul-searching. I searched & haven’t found a democrat with a soul yet. #TCOT #p2
This is probably not the most salutary of thoughts after a Democratic congresswoman was shot in the head and her chief of outreach was murdered.
Political Correction, an arm of the liberal Media Matters watchdog, immediately seized upon the retweet and launched a Twitter campaign to get the RJC board to repudiate the RJC tweeter. Referring to RJC board member (and former George W. Bush speechwriter) David Frum, Matt Finkelstein said;
One hopes Frum will also distance himself from the "irresponsible musings" of the RJC.
In its defense, RJC says a retweet does not amount to an endorsement:
Incoming: Signature bad faith from Media Matters. Retweet is not tantamount to approval and we noted one lib who’s been decent.
Responding to another tweeter:
as u know, it’s a stretch to infer agreement based on a retweet. Unlike @AmericanShadow we found & credited a decent lib.
RJCHQ is referring to this earlier tweet:
Credit where due: Chait @TNR shares Left’s premises but rejects insinuations that crimes of Tucson shooter validate them. http://is.gd/kut29
That’s Jon Chait of the New Republic.
A few things:
A) The thesis: Linking the political climate to the shooter’s motives is exploitative.
No. Political rhetoric, by definition, is a product — why should its consumers (and producers) not critique and examine it –or re-examine it in light of events subsequent to its expression? Dupnik is an elected official, and it would be weird if he did not find a political meaning in a transformative event.
Of course, this necessitates infinite permutations — the critiques may be critiqued, and then these critiques may also be critiqued. Maybe Dupnik will pay for his musings, perhaps he will benefit. That’s how it works.
But Dupnik, per Jack Shafer’s bizarre rant at Slate, is not intimating censorship. He can’t! How could he possibly enforce it? He does not even suggest it:
I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are—how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
This reminds me a little of what I call the Walt-Mearsheimer taboo taboo (why doesn’t anyone ever adopt my fab neologisms? Don’t answer.) It goes like this: I can break the "taboo" against criticizing Israel, but no one may break the taboo of questioning whether the language I use, the tropes I invoke, are rooted in anti-Semitism.
Here, Shafer (joined by a gaggle of conservatives, including the RJC) is saying: Harsh political language should not be taboo. Examining it, critiquing it however — that’s taboo!
B) We found a decent liberal!
In the RJC’s case, it’s Chait. The implication that all other liberals are depraved, I would suggest, is part of the problem, no? (And yes, the left uses the same "one lonely man" trick and it’s just as dumb.)
C) Is this a tweet I see before me?
Okay, re-tweeting isn’t an endorsement. What is it then? If these thoughts repulse you, why re-air them? Not that you should not — but it surely merits further explanation.