Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Christian Rightists jumped to defend conservatives over the Tucson shooting

Tony Beam wrote on the January 8 Tuscon assassination attack - my description, certainly not his - in A Tragedy in Tucson Brings Out Vitriol on the Left Christian Post 01/11/2011.

He quotes the Rev. Franklin Graham as follows:

To try to place blame before an investigation has occurred is in itself Inciting [sic] hatred. Because we may disagree with a person from another political party, and something bad happens to that person, does that mean that we are responsible for what happens to that person? By no means.
One might think that someone who presents himself as a moral and religious leader, as Graham the Younger does, might want to make the distinction that most adults have no trouble making between moral responsibility for creating a toxic environment with hate rhetoric encouraging violence and the legal responsibility for a particular crimes.

But neither Graham the Younger nor Tony Beam bothers with such sissy nonsense. No, they trash them thar libruls instead!

I don't know if Beam was referring to the statement quoted in this Christian Post story, Stephanie Samuel, Franklin Graham Offers Condolences to Victims of Tucson Tragedy 01/10/2011. Other reports of Graham's position include Graham Warns against Blame Game in Ariz. Shooting 01/11/2011 and David Patten,
Franklin Graham Defends Palin on Arizona Shootings Newsmax 01/11/2011. (Note: Newsmax is a far-right news source and I don't assume the accuracy of any reporting found only there.)

Samuel reports that Graham the Younger offered general sympathy for the victims. And she writes:

Franklin described Loughner as a "deranged man" but said it was "hasty" to conclude that his attack was motivated by politics.
I wonder how this squares with his own statement, quoted by Beam but not by Samuel, "To try to place blame before an investigation has occurred is in itself Inciting [sic] hatred." Just how did the Rev. Graham know the accused shooter is "deranged" even "before an investigation has occurred"?

From Samuel's article:

"If something horrific happens to a person, it does not mean those who hold differing views are responsible for the actions of a disturbed individual," he cautioned.

News reports digging into Loughner's background and his social media accounts reveal him as a high school drop-out, military reject and loner who was concerned about literacy and mind-control.

His YouTube videos urged viewers to create their own languages and stressed that control over language equaled mind control. None of the videos mentioned any political leanings or affiliation.
Samuel's reporting here is downright misleading. I could see on the face of it when I saw his YouTube video that he was making references to far-right political notions. See for instance, these reports:

Chip Berlet, Alleged Giffords Shooter Shares Currency Plot Obsession with Anti-Abortion Killer 01/08/2011 Talk to Action 01/08/2011; Dave Neiwert, Yes, Jared Loughner was 'crazy'. That doesn't exculpate the milieu that unhinged him C&L 01/09/2011; Mark Potok, Who is Jared Lee Loughner? Hatewatch 01/09/2011

Would it have been too much trouble for a reporter from the Christian Post to call or e-mail Chip Berlet or Dave Neiwert or Mark Potok to ask about this? They are all well-known authorities or the Radical Right.

Still, some have pointed the finger at conservative pundits and rally participants for fostering hate speech in the political spectrum. Others have accused Tea Party leader Sarah Palin who featured a target map which used gun sights to mark Democratic districts.

Giffords herself once appeared on MSNBC chiding the list. “When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action.” She also shared on the news program that her office had been recently vandalized.

Franklin warned, "This is not a time for political opportunism."

Instead, he urged Americans to turn a critical eye to the grime [sic] messages being perpetrated in the media.

"What frightens me is that our country has accepted murder, violence and rape as entertainment that we see portrayed every day on TV, movies and video games,” Franklin remarked.

He continued, "I agree with Sheriff Clarence Dupnik when he alluded to the fact that this country needs some serious soul searching. If we as a nation are not careful, we could see the destruction of the foundation upon which this nation was built."
Not having waited for the investigation, why did Franklin the Younger think cop shows on TV or whatever the heck he's talking about had anything to do with the Tucson assassination attack? The accused assassin's YouTube farewell video showed clear evidence of his immersion in kooky far-right political propaganda. It didn't say anything about cop shows on TV teaching him it's all right to kill Democrats.

Beam and Graham reflected pretty much the same circle-the-wagons approach as their supposedly more secular conservative counterparts. So just what was the "Christian" part of Christian conservatives in their response to this shooting in Tuscon?

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