The tragic shooting outside a Tucson strip mall, which left six dead and at least a dozen more wounded, is all because of Sarah Palin, liberals are saying today.
So far, police have said they cannot find any motive for the attack, which tookplace during a "Congress on Your Corner" event arranged by Conservative Blue Dog Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, who represents Arizona's 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House.
The suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, has allegedly told authorities he planned the attack, but beyond that, no motive has been released. Loughner allegedly shot Rep. Giffords in the head, wounded 13 others and killed a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl, a 79-year-old grandmother and three others. Given the suspect's frighteningly unstable state of mind, details of which have slowly started to emerge over the last 22 hours, it is likely we'll never know his true intentions.
That's not stopping liberals like Deborah White from stating unequivocally that a map approved by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin provided the killer's motive. In White's blog post today, she implies that Loughner was not only a political conservative, but also enough of a Palin fan to know about her three-month-old "Take Back the 20" map, which uses cross-hair targets to identify Democrats vulnerable in the 2010 midterm elections. White's post, "Palin's Political Dog Whistle in Arizona Yields Unintended Results," states unequivocally that Palin's map was what spurred Loughner to fire into a crowd of people that included a conservative Democratic congresswoman and a federal judge nominated and appointed by Republicans.
It's quite a leap to say that the targets on Palin's map were designed to be used as targets for violence. Yes, cross-hair targets are often associated with firearms, but they're also associated with mathematics, astrophysics and graphic design software. If the mere presence of cross-hairs is enough to indicate the inevitability of a violent event, then those using a Mac might not want to push "shift," "command" and "4" on their keyboards, because a casual observer might take the resulting cross-hair mouse to mean they wish to shoot their Mac. Ridiculous, right? So is the liberal political stunt that would have us believe a map is responsible for the six deaths in Tucson simply because it originated with Palin.
Don't tell that to White, however. In her mind, Palin's career is dead because she's personally responsible for the attacks. In her words:
Mix one unbalanced young white man with access to a semi-automatic weapon into the boiling stewpot of hotbed Arizona immigration fervor plus overt imagery and words by popular, charismatic political leaders of gun violence toward Democrats... and yesterday's murderous rampage in a Tucson strip mall seems almost inevitable.
White's commentary isn't just irresponsible, it's dangerous.
On the irresponsible side, White is writing well below the typical standards of journalism. Connecting subreptitious dots is fine for citizen bloggers to do, but professionals must hold themselves to a higher standard by waiting for the facts to emerge before offering an opinion. Unless White has some inside law enforcement source to whom no other reporter has access, she is relying on supposition, innuendo and implication to make her allegation against Palin. And I personally believe her post doesn't even have that much credibility.
As for the danger of her remarks, White risks inflaming an already-tense situation even further, and could incite retaliatory attacks against Palin, who clearly has nothing do with the Tucson tragedy. If her concern is genuinely about the importance of toning down our political rhetoric to keep whackos from killing people (and I don't think it is), her post takes it in exactly the opposite direction.
Let's face it, White's post - and dozens of others like it on the web today - has nothing to do with caution, concern or even decency. Her post is nothing more than the very type of political opportunism I warned against yesterday, when I said "Regardless of the political persuasion of the killer (and it's fairly clear there is none), those who attempt to use tragedies like this to further a political view or denigrate another are nothing more than opportunists, plain and simple."
What's worse is that White's commentary demonstrates a shameless hypocrisy on the part of the left. In the days following the Fort Hood shooting, liberals cautioned against jumping to conclusions about Nidal Hasan's ties to Muslim extremists. When it emerged that he did, in fact, have clear and convincing ties to terrorism, liberals had very little to say beyond the same, tired talking points. Liberals are also forgetting about the "shooting target" map Democrats used in 2004 to identify vulnerable Congressional Republicans.
The worst part of White's post and others like it is that they not only disrespect Palin (their intended scapegoat), they also show incredible disrespect toward the victims of this tragedy. These posts distract us from the actual facts, and shift the spotlight away from the lives of those who have died and were wounded in favor of a ridiculous, made-up issue that has nothing to do with this tragedy and only serves to deepen the partisan divide in this country.