As conservatives have gone on the offensive for the clearly absurd notion that their violent rhetoric has any relationship to the horrifying violence we saw over the weekend, I've wondered why they don't adopt an obvious strategy.
See, conservatives keep on saying "there's no evidence of a causal link" between the things that Palin, Beck et. al. say and the act of this particular crazy. That's true-ish. But that's not the claim that I have been making.
The claim that I am making, and that I've heard most liberals make is: regardless of why this particular assassin did what he did, the part of the G.O.P that has been associated with the Tea Party has in fact invited this sort of violence.
We don't need anymore evidence to know this is true. The Tea Party has been trading in violence since it's magical inception from out of nowhere (except the pockets of the Koch Brothers and the recesses of Fox News) in 2009. It's been violent rhetoric, it's been displays of force, disruptions of civic events, threats of violence, calls for violence since then. We don't need to know anything about causation or motivation to see that this fits in with the violent, apocalyptic and extremist us vs. them ideology of the Tea Party, because that information is already out there.
The truth is, though, that the Tea Party isn't the whole of conservatism. It is very easy to be a conservative and not buy into the ideology of the Tea Party. So instead of adopting the absurd position that there has been no violent extremism in the G.O.P., why aren't regular rank and file conservatives willing to adopt the same move?
So here's the thought experiment I've been indulging in. Please note that this is a thought experiment: it is a counterfactual hypothesis, but there's a point to it.
Let's say Al Qaeda hadn't been responsible for 9/11. Let's say it had turned out to be some other group that may or may not have had any sympathies with Islamic extremism. Nonetheless, it fit in perfectly with the pattern of violence that Al Qaeda had called for and established.
Would we have been surprised to see moderate Muslims (and again, let me be clear --- I mean here the vast majority of Muslims --- bear with me here) say Look, whether or not Al Qaeda had anything to do with 9/11, we personally find Al Qaeda distasteful and disgusting. Their violent rhetoric has nothing to do with our conception of Islam.
So why aren't Republicans willing to say the same thing now and say, "Whyever the assassin did what he did, we don't personally subscribe to the political violence that the Tea Party openly practices and advocates?"
For the exciting answer, go to Ideas Man, PhD's fanpage:
(Warning, the joke linked to is extremely offensive and in horrible taste).