By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2011, 4:52pm PT  

This flier was circulated in Dallas in the days before John F. Kennedy was assassinated...

Any of that look or sound familiar?

If not, and if you didn't see the Tucson Shooting coming months and months ago, then you are living in a world of complete and utter delusion.

[Update 1/11/11: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., responding to the Giffords shooting at Huffington Post, draws a similar allusion to the atmosphere in Dallas in the days prior to the murder of his uncle.]

If you, like pretend media critic Howard Kurtz, are finding rationalizations and excuses to justify what happened yesterday, dismissing it all as little more than the work of a "lone nutjob," you are similarly deluded and among the most dangerous of apologists.

You are also anything but "conservative," since the core of that ideology used to include personal responsibility. Taking none, unfortunately, seems to be the new hallmark of the no longer any more than name-only movement.

Remember what happened after this video-taped moment in September of 2009, when Nancy Pelosi called for "taking responsibility for our words" before tearing up while recalling the assassination of Harvey Milk in her own district in the 70's, and while decrying the scores of death threats and broken windows at offices of Democratic members of Congress after they'd voted in favor of Health Care Reform?...

The Right, fomented by Glenn Beck of all people, obnoxiously savaged her for her concerns about the growing threats of violence against members of Congress:

Pelosi's concerns, viciously mocked by the Right at the time, seem all too prescient today; Beck's reaction cause for firing if Fox "News" had any standards whatsoever.

The above moments (courtesy of a timely "flashback" post by Double Dutch Politics) came just a few months after the Right had savaged the Obama Administration's Dept. of Homeland Security for releasing a report on the rising tide of Rightwing extremism, as ordered and created by the Bush Administration before it.

The false Rightwing outrage was so loud, and the Democrats were so cowardly, Obama's Administration retracted and apologized for the report that warned about almost exactly what we saw yesterday in Tucson --- and what we've seen time and again, several times a month, over the last two years since the report was retracted.

If you click on nothing else in this article, click on this exhaustively documented timeline detailing the (almost entirely) Rightwing insurrectionism over the last two years, as fomented, virtually without pause, by Rightwing media, candidates and elected officials over that same period. Bookmark that page. You're gonna want to keep it handy.

If your apologist memory needs still more of a refresher, here are just a few more reminders of recent Fox "News" murder fetishism, none of which speaks to the nearly round-the-clock, anti-Government, anti-"Democrat", anti-liberal, anti-progressive 24/7 villainization and vilification by Rightwing talk radio or even the years-long eliminationist rhetoric from Rightwing superstars such as Ann Coulter and the like.

After detailing just three recent instances of deadly Rightwing assaults by "lone nutjobs", Kurtz, of CNN and The Daily Beast (formerly of the Washington Post), instructed us yesterday that he found calls for accountability for those who would foment such "lone nutjobs" to be terribly "depressing" for him, since they can't really be held to blame for such things --- no matter how many times they keep occurring. One can only wonder if Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would similarly enjoy the luxury of being "depressed" by hearing such calls. Poor Howard.

Poor us for living in a society where folks like Kurtz (married to a Rightwing operative, by the way) "serve" the nation by sufficing as our top MSM media critics.

But let's not reserve all the condemnation for the Rightwingers and their apologists. There is plenty of blame left for the Democrats and the Obama Administration (and the supporters of both) who have failed to take even one step towards reforming the broadcast media where Rightwing corporations have been allowed to "buy" up our public airwaves to use them for their own nefarious purposes to the exclusion of we, the people, who actually own them. Neither have they taken a single step to assure the FCC performs its statutorily mandated responsibility for enforcing the provision that requires broadcast licenses be used in the public service.

For those on the Left who suggest talk radio isn't all that important since, after all, there is so much progressive reporting available on the Internet, here are a few points recently detailed by documentarian and former reporter Sue Wilson [Note: Wilson incorrectly uses the name "Conservative" instead of the more accurate Rightwing or Republican]:

  • 53 million people in the U.S.listen to Talk Radio.
  • 91% of Talk Radio Programs are Conservative.
  • 2,570 hours of Conservative Talk Radio are broadcast each weekday...compared to 254 hours of Progressive Talk.
  • 92 percent of talk radio stations do not broadcast a single minute of progressive talk radio programming.
  • Radio has the greatest penetration of any media (print, broadcast, or digital,) reaching 90 percent of Americans each week.
  • Despite the availability of numerous new media alternatives, radio's weekly reach has declined only modestly in the past several years, from 94.9% in Spring 2001, when the iPod was introduced, to 91% in Fall '08.
  • Sean Hannity gets 2.5 million viewers on FOX News, but 14.25 Million listeners on Talk Radio.
  • Glenn Beck gets 2.125 million viewers on FOX News, but 9 million radio listeners.

And one more stark point from Wilson's study, underscoring the necessity of restoring fairness and balance to the nation's broadcast spectrum:

As we noted at Alternet long ago, Obama promised to take steps towards reforming the media situation that we are paying so dearly for now, on his very first day in office, before quietly scrubbing such promises down the memory hole while largely nobody but us noticed or even cared.

But in this moment, at this time of entirely predictable and oft-predicted tragedy, our loathing is reserved for those who would hope to marginalize or dismiss entirely their own responsibility by desperate and shameful acts of false equivalency or disingenuous exhortations against "the blame game."

As satirist Andy Borowitz tweeted earlier today:

When people say "Let's not play the blame game" it's usually because they're losing.

Bingo. And that just after he smartly noted:

The argument that the shooter is insane does not absolve Fox News et al. Bin Laden motivates crazies, too.

Since yesterday's shooting, many have pointed to Sarah Palin's now-infamous "gun sights" maps, "targeting" twenty Democratic Congressmembers for removal with "bullseyes", exhorting supporters, "Don't Retreat, Instead --- RELOAD!".

Giffords was one of those twenty Congressmembers "targeted" by Palin and one of only two to win re-election nonetheless.

Despite protests from Rightwingers that Palin's map had nothing directly to do with yesterday's shootings --- (who knows, at this moment, whether it did or didn't?) --- her staff quickly scrubbed the site where the map was originally posted, and her mouthpiece Rebecca Mansour dug the disingenuous hole deeper during an interview published today, claiming they were going to take down that site anyway and, besides, those were never meant to be "gun sights" on those two maps, they were simply (try not to laugh) "surveyor's symbols." Someone ought to tell that to Citizen "RELOAD" Palin who pointed to those "bullseyes" in a tweet while taking a victory lap after last November's election.

For her part, yesterday, Palin pretended she hadn't been a part of the last two years of vitriol and vilification along with her Fox "News" colleagues Glenn "Progressive Moment is the Cancer Destroying the Country" Beck, Bill "Tiller the Killer" O'Reilly or candidates like Sharron "Second Amendment Remedies" Angle and the rest of the "By Ballot or Bullet" crowd. Instead, she posted a simple Facebook note of "sincere condolences ... to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's shooting in Arizona."

Author and activist David Swanson may have had the best response to that in 140 characters or less when he tweeted this morning:

Dr. Frankenstein released this statement: "I am shocked and saddened by the actions of my monster; my prayers are with his victims."

So was it all Palin's fault? Of course not. It was the fault of all of those who fostered this violently inflamed tinder-box environment, and those who did nothing to try and help put out the flames before it became too late. But would even Sarah Palin have stood for her own actions had the violent fomenter been of a different color or religious persuasion?

Tweeted filmmaker Michael Moore on that point last night:

If a Detroit Muslim put a map on the web w/crosshairs on 20 pols, then 1 of them got shot, where would he b sitting right now? Just asking.

No need to ask, Michael. We all know the answer.

To his credit, even while downplaying any direct culpability by Palin, former George W. Bush "Axis of Evil" speechwriter David Frum was one of far too few on the Right to even acknowledge that Rightwingers bore any personal responsibility for what we have become and what it all helped to foster yesterday, writing today:

Again: this talk did not cause this crime. But this crime should summon us to some reflection on this talk. Better: This crime should summon us to a quiet collective resolution to cease this kind of talk and to cease to indulge those who engage in it.

On the other side of the aisle, former John Kerry campaign director Peter Daou offered a similar sentiment, but focused on the "bogus equivalency between right/left extremism," as heard so much today via not just desperate Rightwingers, but also by their enablers in the mainstream media:

We do not yet know whether the Arizona massacre was directly fueled by rightwing rhetoric. But we do know this: one of the most dangerous myths promulgated by the media and political establishment is that there is a comparable level of extremism among conservatives and liberals, that left and right are mirror images.

Even the most cursory perusal of rightwing radio, television, blogs and assorted punditry illustrates a profound distinction: in large measure, the right's overarching purpose is to stoke hatred of the left, of liberalism. The right's messaging infrastructure, meticulously constructed and refined over decades, promotes an image of liberals as traitors and America-haters, unworthy of their country and bent on destroying it. There is simply no comparable propaganda effort on the left.

The imbalance is stark: Democrats and liberals rail against the right's ideas; the right rails against the left's very existence.

At The New Yorker today, George Packer hit a nail or two on the head on these points. The first graf should sound particularly familiar to those who bothered to read the John F. Kennedy "Treason" flier we started this article with above:

[F]or the past two years, many conservative leaders, activists, and media figures have made a habit of trying to delegitimize their political opponents. Not just arguing against their opponents, but doing everything possible to turn them into enemies of the country and cast them out beyond the pale. Instead of "soft on defense," one routinely hears the words "treason" and "traitor." The President isn't a big-government liberal-he's a socialist who wants to impose tyranny. He's also, according to a minority of Republicans, including elected officials, an impostor.

And then, Packer drives the big take-away home, in a point which Media Matters' Jamison Foser urged members of the media to "Read ... Read it again. Read it a third time":

This relentlessly hostile rhetoric has become standard issue on the right. (On the left it appears in anonymous comment threads, not congressional speeches and national T.V. programs.) And it has gone almost entirely uncriticized by Republican leaders. Partisan media encourages it, while the mainstream media finds it titillating and airs it, often without comment, so that the gradual effect is to desensitize even people to whom the rhetoric is repellent. We've all grown so used to it over the past couple of years that it took the shock of an assassination attempt to show us the ugliness to which our politics has sunk.

Finally, nobody is able to say it better than the man who found himself at the center of yesterday's tragedy. As the blood from the massacre was still wet in Tucson, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, during a press conference last night, stated what so many of us have been trying to point out for so many years --- that this is truly a time for this nation to "do a little soul searching":

When you look at unbalanced people, 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. ... People who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol.
The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.
It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That's the sad thing about what's going on in America: pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.
Let me just say one thing, because people tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences.

Couldn't have said it better ourselves. Though lord knows we've tried --- and even helped create a campaign a long time ago in further hopes of doings so.

Naturally, Rightwingers have begun to savagely attack Sheriff Dupnik for his comments. What else would you expect at this point?

Of course, if "both sides do it", as many on the Right are now claiming, why are they so angry at Dupnik for his comments? He didn't say anything about either the Right or the Left, as John Cole points out.

Once again, in case you've already forgotten the recommendation above, here is that startling "Insurrectionism Timeline" from just the past two years. Read it.

Then, in lieu of any similar timeline you are able to offer, detailing a similarly well-documented, wholly-verifiable, fact-based list of similar incidents of violent insurrectionism and dangerously vitriolic rhetoric from those not on the Right, you can hold your "both sides do it" apologism for those folks like yourself who haven't a conscience or, apparently, even a shred of human decency left.