Remember Rep. Paul Broun, the Georgia congressman who I profiled in "The Backlash" as a political leader who sounds like a talk radio host, with the same toxic effect. or worse, actually. I hadn't been thinking much of Broun's rhetoric in the wake of Tucson, but comes now E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post to remind me. He quotes Broun's unorthodox defense of guns at a 2nd Amendment Rally in D.C. last April:
"Fellow patriots, we have a lot of domestic enemies of the Constitution, and they're right down the Mall, in the Congress of the United States - and right down Independence Avenue in the White House that belongs to us," he declared. "It's not about my ability to hunt, which I love to do. It's not about the ability for me to protect my family and my property against criminals, which we have the right to do. But it's all about us protecting ourselves from a tyrannical government of the United States."
Dionne's point here is that while there's no evidence that Tucson gunman Loughner heard what Tea Party faves like Broun or Rep. Ron Paul were saying, their rhetoric on the right has blocked sensible gun laws -- laws that would prevent an unhinged person such as Loughner from buying a cartridge capable of firing 33 shots and killing six innocent people in a matter of seconds:
No. Jared Loughner, the accused killer, is accountable for his own actions. His politics are confused at best, and he clearly has mental health problems. That is what most liberals are saying.
But, yes, this is the time to acknowledge that there is something deeply wrong with the militarization of American conservative rhetoric. Doing so is not - and there are many problems with the term - what Sarah Palin has called a "blood libel." The approach to guns, violence and "tyranny" promoted by loud voices on the right has been instrumental in blocking measures that could at least have contained the casualties in Tucson - or at Virginia Tech or Columbine. Extremism in defense of feeble gun laws is no virtue.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Like I wrote earlier in the week, it's time to crusade for at least a minimalist gun law, that would restore the mid-1990s ban on extended cartridges.
On that note, have a great weekend. I plan to watch a lot of football and not dwell on what caused all those dead birds in South Philly.