From James Taranto:
After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: “In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .,” the paper counseled.
Here’s how the sentence continued: “. . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”
The Tucson Safeway massacre prompted exactly the opposite reaction. What was once known as the paper of record egged on its readers to draw invidious conclusions that are not only prejudicial but contrary to fact. In doing so, the Times has crossed a moral line.
Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s editorial:
It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.
That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal. . . .
Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.
To describe the Tucson massacre as an act of “political violence” is, quite simply, a lie. It is as if, two days after the Columbine massacre, a conservative newspaper of the Times’s stature had described that atrocious crime as an act of “educational violence” and used it as an occasion to denounce teachers unions. Such an editorial would be shameful and indecent even if the arguments it made were meritorious.
The New York Times has seized on a madman’s act of wanton violence as an excuse to instigate a witch hunt against those it regards as its domestic foes. “Instigate” is not too strong a word here: As we noted yesterday, one of the first to point an accusatory finger at the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin was the Times’s star columnist, Paul Krugman. Less than two hours after the news of the shooting broke, he opined on the Times website: “We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was.”
This was speculative fantasy, irresponsible but perhaps forgivable had Krugman walked it back when the facts proved contrary to his prejudices. He did not. His Monday column evinced the same damn-the-facts attitude as the editorial did.