As numerous politicos, politicians, and media players demand people “tone down the rhetoric,” former House Speaker and likely 2012 GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is ratcheting up his hate-based hyperbole in the wake of the Tucson tragedy. Yesterday on the right-wing Don Wade and Roma radio show, the hosts asked Gingrich to react to veteran Tucson Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s condemnation of the role that “rhetoric about hatred, mistrust, paranoia of how government operates” played in Saturday’s shootings.
Ever fond of blaming Muslims for anything, Gingrich immediately responded by shifting focus from the Arizona shootings to his Islamophobia campaign. Throwing in a few plugs for his anti-Muslim film “America At Risk,” Gingrich slammed liberals “who scream if you tell the truth about American Islamists” but “smear conservatives” for other, non-Muslim acts of violence:
WADE: I’m curious, from a political standpoint, what your view is. The shooting of the Congresswoman Gifford is being blamed by the Tucson sheriff on the last two years of right-wing rhetoric. What do you think of that?
GINGRICH: Look, I think it’s amazing that people who cannot bring themselves to connect any kind of radical Islamist ideology to the 126 people who’ve been indicted in the United States plotting terrorism, people who would immediately scream about ethnic profiling, people who on the left have every possible incentive to never allow any one to draw conclusions, suddenly say things that are just factually untrue. There’s no evidence that I know of, that this person was anything except nuts. Certainly, the books that he had in his library tended to be left wing, much more Marxist and communist…Yet on the left the very people who scream if you tell the truth about American Islamists, as I did in our movie “America at Risk,” turn around and say “oh let me draw the worst possible comparison because it makes me feel better”…To leap for that, the way the New York Times and others have and the sheriff have, is ridiculous. What proof does the sheriff have?
ROMA: None whatsoever. And the rhetoric — recall for a moment what it was like after the Fort Hood shootings. Everyone was told to not jump to conclusions, to withhold judgment about they why and the wherefore…
WADE: Yeah don’t connect that to any Islamic — you know when he was yelling Allahu Akbar when he was shooting all of those, oh we wouldn’t want to make that connection.
GINGRICH: We actually have a segment on that in America At Risk where we show you that…You know, you have to ask yourself what is it on the left that makes it impossible for them to tell the truth either about radical Islamists or about nuts? And what is it about the left that requires them to smear conservatives with no evidence at all, and to do it with great moral indignation?
Blaming “the left” is typical Gingrich behavior in the wake of national tragedies. After the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, Gingrich accused “the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite” of “being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done.” When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked if he saw the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy the same way, Gingrich said “yes” because liberals have created “situation ethics” zone free of religion. He even blamed liberals for Susan Smith’s drowning of her two children in 1994, saying the only way to avoid future incidents was “to vote Republican.”
But this new hypocritical and unfounded attack on the left is made all the more ridiculous by twisting this horrible tragedy to relish in anti-Muslim fear-mongering and to hawk his own products. Like Gingrich, many on the right defended their own myopic and alienating vitriol from what the National Review saw as “a vile attempt to tar the opposition with the crimes of a lunatic so as to render illegitimate the views of about half of America.” But by folding in his anti-Muslim views into the political discourse, Gingrich not only defended, but nurtured, the continuing atmosphere of hate so many seek to get beyond.