After the at­tack in Alexan­dria

Con­ser­va­tives must not be tempted to stoop to the level of lib­eral ex­trem­ists

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - David A. Keene

Con­ser­va­tives will be tempted in the days ahead to blame the left’s over the top anti-Repub­li­can, anti-Trump rhetoric for the shoot­ing of Rep. Steve Scalise and the oth­ers wounded in Alexan­dria on Wed­nes­day. It will be tempt­ing both be­cause left­ist lead­ers have thrown all de­cency aside as they vent against those with whom they dis­agree and be­cause in the hours fol­low­ing the shoot­ings Twit­ter was awash with mes­sages em­a­nat­ing from the pro­gres­sive fever swamps cel­e­brat­ing the shoot­ings be­cause Repub­li­cans “de­serve” what­ever they get.

In ad­di­tion, of course, the left has never hes­i­tated to blame con­ser­va­tives for vi­o­lence even when those who re­sort to it have no link what­ever to the right. When Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy was as­sas­si­nated in Dallas by a Marx­ist-Lenin­ist wor­ship­per of Fidel Cas­tro more than a half cen­tury ago, the left blamed the peo­ple of Dallas whose con­ser­va­tive views al­legedly

created the “at­mos­phere” that led Lee Har­vey Oswald to kill a pres­i­dent. The charge was ab­surd on its face, but rep­e­ti­tion has made it part of the folk-lore sur­round­ing Kennedy’s death.

More re­cently, when a nut shot for­mer Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords and killed a judge at an Ari­zona mall back in 2011, the left and, in­deed, Demo­cratic lead­ers blamed con­ser­va­tives in gen­eral and 2008 Repub­li­can vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sarah Palin in par­tic­u­lar for the shoot­ing; once again be­cause they had created an “at­mos­phere of hate.”

So, if turn­about is fair play, some will con­clude that the cur­rent “at­mos­phere of hate” en­gen­dered by a party that de­clares it­self “the re­sis­tance” and charges that Repub­li­cans are in league with Moscow to de­stroy the Amer­i­can ex­per­i­ment in democ­racy, spend their time con­coct­ing ways to aid the wealthy at the ex­pense of the poor and hate women, gays and ev­ery mi­nor­ity imag­in­able. If one ac­cepts the con­cept of group guilt, it would be easy enough to draw a line from the calls for a pres­i­dent’s as­sas­si­na­tion and a woman “co­me­dian” ap­pear­ing on tele­vi­sion with a like­ness of the pres­i­dent’s sev­ered head to the shoot­ings in Alexan­dria.

After all, the nut who opened fire on Mr. Scalise and those with him was a Bernie San­ders sup­porter who thought Mr. Trump is a Nazi and ap­par­ently sup­ported ev­ery pro­gres­sive cause and po­si­tion imag­in­able, but to con­clude from that that Mr. San­ders or oth­ers who dis­agree with Repub­li­cans are some­how re­spon­si­ble for his acts is ab­surd as is the con­clu­sion by some in the af­ter­math of the Kennedy as­sas­si­na­tion that John Tower, the Lone Star State’s con­ser­va­tive sen­a­tor bore part of the blame for Oswald’s ac­tions be­cause he had been crit­i­cal of the pres­i­dent and his poli­cies.

Mr. San­ders re­acted quickly to the news that the shooter was a sup­porter. He con­demned the shoot­ings and the shooter alike, point­ing out in the strong­est terms that “vi­o­lence of any kind is un­ac­cept­able in our so­ci­ety.” Mr. San­ders may be a so­cial­ist, but he’s an Amer­i­can and when it comes to speech parts com­pany with those who would cel­e­brate any act to shut down their op­po­nents. In that sense he is more an old-fash­ioned lib­eral and, yes, a Demo­crat than many of his fol­low­ers and the lead­ers of to­day’s Demo­cratic Party.

The Alexan­dria shooter may have been a cal­cu­lat­ing evil-doer or sim­ply a mad­man, but his act was his un­less it can be proved that he was part of a larger ca­bal of ex­trem­ists and should not be blamed on the mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who may share his views, but would never con­tem­plate do­ing what he did and are, one sus­pects, as hor­ri­fied as Mr. San­ders, that he had been in lurk­ing their ranks.

Pro­gres­sives are al­ready try­ing to head off crit­i­cism, by once again blam­ing not the shooter, but the Sec­ond Amend­ment for the vi­o­lence. Repub­li­cans sup­port firearms free­dom and must there­fore take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the act of the shooter be­cause, well, he used a gun and if guns didn’t ex­ist he couldn’t have shot Mr. Scalise. That’s a feint that won’t work and they know it, but it’s such an in­grained part of their mantra that they have to try though down deep they must re­al­ize that it was the shooter and not the gun.

Con­ser­va­tives ac­tu­ally be­lieve in the right of Amer­i­cans to speak freely and even ir­re­spon­si­bly. They be­lieve in in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity, re­ject group-think and group re­spon­si­bil­ity and should re­ject the temp­ta­tion to ig­nore those be­liefs for some ephemeral tac­ti­cal rhetor­i­cal ad­van­tage. The left plays by dif­fer­ent rules; rules of which they should be ashamed. Con­ser­va­tives should re­sist the temp­ta­tion to stoop to their level.

The Alexan­dria shooter may have been a cal­cu­lat­ing evil-doer or sim­ply a mad­man, but his act was his un­less it can be proved that he was part of a larger ca­bal of ex­trem­ists and should not be blamed on the mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who may share his views.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY HUNTER

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