I want to make it clear to anyone not familiar with this blog that I'm not claiming that Jared Loughner, the shooter in the Giffords assassination attempt, was part of the Tea Party movement or in any way allied with the extreme right. I think his mental condition makes such suppositions irrelevant.
What I am saying is that it's the right, and particularly the teabaggers, who have repeatedly and shamelessly made this kind of hate speech part of their repertoire -- and it goes beyond any specific remarks or graphics by Sharron Angle or Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman. Start with Rush Limbaugh, add in Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, Laura Schlesinger, Pam Geller, and, yes, Matt Barber, Tony Perkins, Mat Staver, Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, Elaine Donnelley -- it's almost a cast of thousands. These people make their livings spewing lies and hate.
That's what I'm saying.
A Footnote: I got an e-mail from Alan Grayson this morning about the Giffords shooting in which he says this:
I know nothing about the man who shot Gabby, and what was going through his mind when he did this. But I will tell you this - if he shot Gabby out of hatred, then it wasn't Gabby he was shooting, but rather some cartoon version of her, drawn by her political opposition.
And that's it. The people I mentioned above deal in cartoons, and their followers buy it. I read a lot of comics, and I love manga and anime. I can still tell the difference between cartoons and real people. Apparently, I'm exceptional in that regard.
Update: Digby, of course, has some cogent comments on this phenomenon.
Update II: Digby links to this piece by James Fallows, which draws pretty much the same conclusion that I do, but without pointing fingers. I do have one disagreement, however:
It is legitimate to discuss whether there is a connection between that tone and actual outbursts of violence, whatever the motivations of this killer turn out to be. At a minimum, it will be harder for anyone to talk -- on rallies, on cable TV, in ads -- about "eliminating" opponents, or to bring rifles to political meetings, or to say "don't retreat, reload."
Don't ever think it. You can call these people on their hateful rhetoric, their lies and misrepresentations, their demonization of Muslims, gays, immmigrants, whoever is in their sights at the moment, and they will do it again, no matter who gets killed or maimed. They don't seem to have anything that we'd recognize as a conscience. (You'll remember that Tony Perkins has been called out a couple of times on national TV over his completely false statement that "Social science has proved that children do better with a married mother and father." And on his next appearance, he repeats it. Of course, no one's been shot over that one, so I guess that makes it OK.)