April 20, 2010
Lead us not into a communitarian climate of road rage
Back in 1995, Bill Clinton blamed conservative radio talk show hosts for the horrific act of terrorism committed by Timothy McVeigh. I will never forget how he singled out G. Gordon Liddy by name, and his argument back then was not much different than it is now.
These people created a climate that led to this.
The difference this time is there has not been an Oklahoma City type of incident (and I pray that there won't be). But there are Tea Parties, and even though they are well-mannered and non-violent, the left-wing ideologues simply cannot stand what they say, so in desperation they are now trotting out the old "they're creating a climate" line of bullshit.
Byron York does a great job of demolishing the shabby logic behind Bill Clinton's latest climate reincarnation job:
There's a new narrative taking hold in the wake of the recent Tea Party protests and the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing: The Tea Partiers' intense opposition to the Obama administration has led to overheated political rhetoric, which could in turn lead to violence, perhaps as devastating as Oklahoma City.It is beyond obvious to me that the individuals themselves -- not climates -- are responsible for the acts they commit. It's one of the annoyances that caused me to start this blog, and it has fueled many a blog post over the years.
I wish I could say that this "blame the climate" mentality was limited to the left, but it's not. It is a form of communitarian thinking as old as the idea that "I am my brother's keeper." While conservatives tend to be individualists and are therefore much less likely to succumb to it than liberals, partisan ideology has a way of causing "I blame the climate created by [fill-in-the-blank]" to creep into the thinking of otherwise reasonable people, especially in the heat of ideological battles. Blaming "climates" lies at the heart of both sides of the "traditional" Culture War, and has caused people to do things like blame Columbine on certain forms of music (even the wearing of trenchcoats), or blame Howard Stern and the "homosexual agenda" for Abu Ghraib. (Similarly, films like Brokeback Mountain threaten Western civilization because of the climates they create. Throw in a little more climate theory, and sex, drugs, rock and roll, and yoga all become "Marxist." Throw in a hurricane and watch human climates conflate with natural climates into perfect storms of divine retribution. I blame voodoo!)
I find all of it maddening, and it is one of the reasons I persist in calling myself a libertarian and not a conservative, because I don't want to be associated with it. But not wanting to be associated with it does not make it go away. Merely by going to the Tea Parties, I am now helping to encourage terrorists.
This reminds me of something I wasn't going to blog about at all (because I thought it might be "irresponsible," but I'm so sick of the climate lectures that I might as well.
But maybe I shouldn't. After all, it involves a road rage incident in which a man with a concealed carry permit (who has been called a "Tea Partier," btw) shot another driver who had tailgated him and then got out of his car to confront him.
I researched the whole squalid thing and in one of my innumerable but invisible acts of self-censorship, I refrained from publishing the post, as I didn't want to be inflammatory or supply fuel for the other side. I still have reservations about this, and as the fruits of my research are lengthy, I'll do something I don't normally do, and I'll hide it so it won't be staring at readers who are easily upset.
Consider yourselves warned if you read on.
And please bear in mind that my goal is to anticipate a "climate" I oppose, not create one.
Over the weekend I read about a road rage incident in Mitch Albom's column. Replete with countless "we's" he repeatedly asks his readers why "we" lose our temper over annoyances on the highway:
What makes us slam on the horn and scream through glass, as if the other driver insulted our family name? What makes us speed up, brake, weave in front -- any of the crazy acts that are now referred to as road rage?OK, so far it's a rather mundane, if gratuitously communitarian argument against road rage. But what came next made me suspect that there was more to the incident than was being reported:
What makes a 20-year-old man, driving behind another man who was hitting the brakes in an attempt to test them, get out of his car and confront that driver? What makes them argue?We we we we we -- all the way home to his conclusion that we need more laws. Against temper.
But when we reach the point where we'll shoot somebody over it, we need to reexamine ourselves -- and maybe our laws.I was tantalized by what I thought might be just a whiff of an appearance of a deliberately dangled subtext in "the debate over why the shooter had a gun in the first place -- legally allowed with our carrying concealed weapons law -- is for another day."
Perhaps I should have followed that ancient childhood lesson I have repeatedly failed to learn -- "Curiosity killed the cat" but curiosity has long been one of my weaknesses, it has led me into a lot of places I'd have been better off not going.
So against my better judgment, I Googled "Farmington Hills road rage shooting."
Wow. I soon learned that the alleged shooter is the Michigan Chairman of the Jewish Defense League, and he's an outspoken conspiracy theorist.
Some background in his own words:
About Me:Here's an argument between him and someone else in the form of comments to a YouTube video:
• judeochristianunity Of all people, Barack Obama is picked to speak. He's so anti-Jewish, he could have cared less about the Holocaust. He's against Israel and probably would love to see it overrun by Arabs and then disappear. 8 months agoA FoxNews video features some of his anti-Obama ranting:
The usually vociferous Freepers see this as a lesson that what you say online can and will be used against you.
I could go on and on with links to the endless stuff that's floating around about this guy.
I strongly suspect Mitch Albom knew all about this man he mentioned in his column. Considering his position as a leading columnist for the Detroit Free Press, I think he had to know. So why play games?
Is he supplying bait for leftie gun grabbers and Tea Party bashers? Fuel for Bill Clinton's argument? Then why not say so?
As things stand now, I am forced to play the game of "anticipate the climate." My very tired libertarian argument of course is that this man speaks for no one but himself (and possibly the JDL chapter he leads). He is not an argument against concealed carry, or Tea Parties, or people who support Israel, or people who worry about Islamic terrorism. Nor was his overheated rhetoric caused by Rush Limbaugh.
Individuals are responsible for their own actions.
And since when has that stopped people from saying they're not?
posted by Eric on 04.20.10 at 11:31 AM
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