Yet another obvious lunatic commits a shocking act of violence and the stage is again set for self-righteous soapbox rantings from Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals alike.
All the while, the mass media and an assortment of special interest groups—trying to find some advantage in the tragedy—stir the pot and crank up the volume.
Much noise has been made about angry political rhetoric and name-calling, as though that somehow motivated the deeply disturbed young man charged with the horrible crime that took place in Arizona.
The media and other self-interested folks have desperately been trying to find some sort of political motivation behind this insane act—which seems to have been focused on a member of Congress, Gabrielle Giffords, but which left six people (including a child) dead and 14 others (including Giffords) gravely injured.
Although Mrs. Giffords was in a bad business—politics— where violence might be considered a professional risk, the fact Giffords was holding a public meeting, right on the street, to give constituents the opportunity to greet her face-to-face and express their concerns about public issues is a credit to the congresswoman.
There are many members of Congress who wouldn’t dream of actually meeting their constituents, let alone talking to them on the telephone. (Try to call Capitol Hill and get through personally to your congressman.)
So, many had to suffer because a lone-nut assassin took advantage of Mrs. Giffords’ good will. Initially, the word was the Tucson terrorist, Jared Loughner, was “linked” to an anti-Semitic organization and that he was a devotee of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Those spreading this story were quick to point out that Rep. Giffords was Jewish.
However, there were several distinct problems with this theme which nonetheless still seemed to get widespread currency in the mass media. First of all, Loughner was not linked to the group in question.
Secondly, the group is not anti-Semitic at all and, instead, has a reputation of actually being supportive of Jewish concerns. Thirdly, Loughner didn’t admire Hitler; he considered Hitler’s book offensive.
While one of Loughner’s forebears may have been Jewish, a tailspinner with known Israeli “intel” connections set loose on the Internet a totally fabricated (but cleverly crafted) story that Loughner and his mother were members of the same synagogue as Mrs. Giffords. This rumor totally muddied the waters.
Although the politically correct thing to say is that neither the religion of the terrorist nor that of Mrs. Giffords is relevant, you can bet your last dollar if the terrorist had been a Muslim, his religion would have been a non-stop 24/7 topic in media discussion.
It is interesting that so many are talking about how excessive name-calling and heavy-handed rhetoric may have somehow influenced the killer. Even Mrs. Giffords recently expressed concerns about the angry tone of political discussion today.
Yet, going back to her earliest years in politics in the Arizona state Legislature, Mrs. Giffords publicly associated herself with a group that has, for decades, engaged in the most incendiary form of political grandstanding, name-calling, throwing brickbats, organizing boycotts, and—perhaps most disturbingly—engaging in illicit spying on law-abiding American citizens.
Although it pains us to report Mrs. Giffords’ association with such a group, the fact is she served on the Arizona regional board of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith, a nasty outfit that has stirred up public unrest—and racial and religious strife—for nearly a century.
During World War II, the ADL accused fellow Americans of being disloyal to their country and played a major part in a trumped-up case (eventually thrown out of court) in which some 30 Americans were falsely charged with “sedition.”
Then, in the late 1940s—although the ADL wants people to forget about this—it was pointing fingers at people and calling them “communists”—long before anyone had ever heard of a guy named Joe McCarthy.
And although the ADL portrays itself as a “civil rights” group, in the 1960s the ADL was spying on Martin Luther King. They considered him a “loose cannon.”
And the ADL spied on the American supporters of Nelson Mandela—a fact the ADL doesn’t want Mandela’s fans to know about.
These days the ADL specializes in accusing people of “anti-Semitism” if they dare to criticize the U.S. policy of open-ended financial support of Israel. And they are constantly stirring up talk about “racism” and pitting different racial groups against one another.
All pray for the recovery of Mrs. Giffords and the surviving victims and for the families. God forbid this should happen again. Let us hope troublesome groups like the ADL keep their unwelcome voices out of political affairs. The truth is that the ADL has contributed to the ill will found in public discourse today.
A journalist specializing in media critique, Michael Collins Piper is the author of The High Priests of War, The New Jerusalem, Dirty Secrets, The Judas Goats, The Golem, Target Traficant and My First Days in the White House