The quote in the title is from National Review magazine and I thought it appropos to the knee-jerk reaction across the board in the liberal establishment to the Tucson shooting rampage by the deranged, drug-addled kook Jared Lee Loughner.
I suppose that Richard Hofstadter is credited with beginning the current genre with his “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” in 1964, an update of Charles Mackey’s 19th century classic, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. These people and their camp followers are so ill that they must really believe that the conservative mindset and worldview leads one to be innately susceptible to violence and murder by metaphorical suggestion. This pathology was given credence when the American political right wing was charged with complicity in the assassination of John F. Kennedy by “creating the atmosphere” in which he was killed. And in fact, Jackie Kennedy lamented bitterly when she learned that her husband was killed by a warped leftist and said, “He didn’t have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights; it had to be some silly little communist. It even robs his death of any meaning.” As James Piereson so well describes in his book, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, this view, widely held by many in the liberal establishment, fed ultimately into the beginning of what he calls “punitive liberalism”, the assumption that conservative America was responsible for numerous crimes and misdeeds throughout its history.
All of this sentiment comes to fore when some nutcase goes on a rampage, except when the perpetrator’s ethnic or cultural background precludes condemnation for reasons of political correctness, such as with the shootings at Fort Hood by a confirmed Islamic jihadist sympathizer, and only when there is an opening to condemn Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, Fox News, the Tea Party, and the other usual suspects.
This country is in big trouble when loyal Americans are painted with an extremist brush while merely vigorously expressing their frustration that we have seriously drifted from our founding principles and who loudly demand that we return to them. To demonize and delegitimize these sentiments as hateful and paranoid seems to be the only remaining weapon of the progressive left, which has proven once again to be devoid of successful ideas.