Sunday, January 9, 2011

An invitation

Anything coming from me is going to sound biased to others, no matter how many times I repeat that I don't consider the Tea Party culpable for yesterday's attack, but that I do consider it relevant.

So I want to extend an invitation to Tea Party sympathizers - how exactly would you characterize the relationship between the Tea Party and the attack? I'm curious how this should be framed, and how many of you really believe the state of rhetoric and the degree of suspicion of the president is unrelated.


  1. Crazy people will take any non-status quo rhetoric to an extreme, whether it's right wing or left wing.

  2. So coincidence? Could have just as easily been a guy shooting at a Tea Party candidate for opposing health reform?

  3. Unlikely, because the tea party doesn't represent "the power". If at least the president was republican, it would be more likely.

  4. Yes, could have just as easily been that.

    What the media, punditry, etc. are doing is what they are always doing - turning a rather isolated, dramatic event into a grand narrative. See the Columbine shooting for an example of such.

  5. Anonymous -
    I'd strongly prefer you'd identify yourself in some way. There have been several "anonymous" comments in these Loughner posts and its going to be hard to know if we should treat them as the same person if you don't identify yourself.

    On your substantive comment... I think the Tea Party has enough power and the Democrats have enough power for either side to consider the other a political threat. This is not a fringe movement - it dominates a major party and a mainstream news network. No side is facing an especially puny political adversary.

    It wasn't long ago that we had a Republican president and for much of his presidency a Democratic minority in Congress. Did that minority ever call for violence? Did it ever call for revolution? Were threre attacks? I'm guessing there were some, but it seems a little disingenuous to treat the two as proportional or to act like the party holding office is the reason for the incident.

    There was a fervent Bush opposition to be sure, but it was marginal compared to this Obama opposition.

  6. Xenophon -
    Elaborate on that. I'm not sure how this is comparable to the Columbine shooting, which seems more akin to the variety of other school and office shootings.

    This one is hard to parse because of the mental state of the offender, but it's clearly political in a way that the Columbine shooting wasn't.

    You mentioned Columbine in an earlier post as well - could you elaborate on that rather than restricting yourself to these passing references.

  7. "There was a fervent Bush opposition to be sure, but it was marginal compared to this Obama opposition."

    I don't know whether that statement is true, but assuming it is what would the explanation be? Is it all because of the influencing power of talk show hosts and populist movements? Or does it have to do with the kind of person who is feeling alienated from the figurehead? Or does it have to do with how many people feel alienated from the figurehead?

  8. I'm not sure what the difference is exactly, Robert. The same sorts of accusations were made - violation of the Constitution, overspending, etc.

    I think there is a deeper strain of paranoia that goes through the Tea Party - the Alex Jones approach - that you would expect to produce more conspiratorial and violent reactions. Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell are both on the Alex Jones show a lot.

    Eschatological preoccupations that are absent in the circles critical of Bush probably play a role too. Beck's eschatology was discussed in detail a couple months back. More traditional Christian eschatology as well.

    I don't think the Tea Party is a racist organization, but Obama's race is undeniably a motivating factor for many individuals.

  9. Daniel, So your position seems to be that Obama opposers tend to be more crazy. Could be the case. After all, it's possible that the Right works harder to court the crazies than does the Left. On the other hand, the opposition always looks a little crazy. Otherwise they wouldn't oppose one's own perfectly rational opinions, right?

  10. Well, that sounds confrontational to me (I don't get away with quite as much confrontation as you may!). I would say that there are all sorts of crazy elements out there. A lot of the crazy elements in America cross paths with the Tea Party. When you add violent rhetoric to it from people like Bachman and Palin who have no violent intentions at all, you may get problems.

    So I would not say that Obama's opposers are crazy so much as I would say there are crazy people out there and they seem to have embraced an important and rhetoric-driven segment of Obama's opposition.

    If people want to point out violent rhetoric among the Democratic opposition or a framing of the current political atmosphere as being on a war-footing (ie - we need to prepare for revolution), I am more than happy to feature it on here.

    Both sides accuse the other of trashing the Constitution and being Hitler. That stuff is obnoxious and it adds fuel.

    I think the other stuff - the violence-inducing stuff - is less evenly distributed. I'd be happy to feature any exceptions or contrary evidence. Please share people.

  11. I did come across as confrontational, but I mean to be fair. As I stated, I think that it's perfectly possible that the Right courts crazies more than the Left does. It's also possible (even probable) that the Right courts violent crazies more than the Left does. So it may be fair to take the position that the opposition is crazier than is one's own side.

    But since there is a confirmation bias problem, one wants to be careful, and to try to objectively look for data that might answer the question of who is (on average) crazier.

    I can't remember whether I've already made it clear in comments on your blog, but I lean a bit libertarian. Even so, I would say that the libertarians and the conservatives SEEM to harbor more crazy and violent elements than do the leftist academic elite. But I've got no data.

  12. Is there a relationship that requires characterization? Where is the evidence that Loughner spent one second even considering the tea party let alone it having influenced him?


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