On Feb. 15, 1933,
Giuseppe Zangara, delusional and a loner, fired his
.32-caliber pistol at FDR in the Bayfront Park area of
Five feet tall, Zangara could not
aim over the crowd. So, he stood on a folding chair and
was piled on after the first of five shots. He wounded
four people, including
Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago.
In two weeks, Zangara, who pled
guilty, had been sentenced to 80 years. When Cermak died
on March 6, Zangara was retried for murder and sentenced
to the electric chair, where he died on March 20, 1933.
In that time, if you knew what you
were doing, knew the penalty for it and then committed
the crime, you paid the price—and swiftly.
There was no wailing that Zangara,
a misfit suffering from a stomach ailment, was not fully
There was no campaign to accuse
Republicans, after a rough election, of creating an
atmosphere in which a deranged mind may have been driven
to try to kill FDR.
That came three decades later, when
conservatives were charged with having
atmosphere" in which JFK was assassinated.
Lee Harvey Oswald was a
communist who had defected to Russia and a member of
the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee, who had
only recently arrived in Texas. Yet moral culpability
for what he did was laid at the door of the city of
Dallas and the
rising American Right.
Had not, the press asked, Adlai
Stevenson been lately jostled by a crowd in Dallas? Had
not LBJ and Lady Bird been
verbally abused in the lobby of a Dallas hotel in
1960? Was Dallas not
a hothouse of the right?
same smear tactic was employed when Timothy McVeigh
blew up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing
168, among them 19 children. Right-wing radio and its
anti-government rhetoric, it was said, created the
atmosphere that made it easier for McVeigh to feel
justified in blowing up a federal building.
Saturday, even before Jared
Loughner had been charged with
murdering six people in Tucson, including a
9-year-old girl and a U.S. judge, and wounding 13 in an
assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the
old smear machine had been wheeled out.
Giffords, it was said, had been "targeted"
by Sarah Palin for defeat in ads depicting her
district in cross hairs. And had not Palin used the
"Don`t retreat, reload!"? Had not
Sharron Angle in Nevada talked of
Had not talk-show hosts on Fox News
used incendiary language that can drive weak and
deranged minds over the line?
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik,
a Democrat and friend of Giffords, kicked off the
campaign Saturday with this excoriation.
"I`d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they
are—how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of
certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the
anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this
country is getting to be outrageous."
Dupnik later narrowed it to some
"people in the radio business and some people in the TV business."
Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell narrowed it further to Fox
News, the home of Glenn Beck.
Elements on the left are now
connecting the dots—the words of Palin and Fox News—to
the deeds of accused mass murderer Jared Loughner.
This is not political hardball.
This is political dirt ball.
Do any such dots exist in reality?
Or only in the embittered minds and malevolent motives
of those unreconciled to the
defeat they suffered on Nov. 2?
Undeniably, political rhetoric is
hotter than it has been since the 1960s and ought to be
dialed down. But Barack Obama, talking tough in 2008
about how he would deal with Republican attacks, himself
"If they bring a
knife to the fight, we bring a gun. ...
Folks in Philly like a good brawl."
It is easy for journalists to imply
or impute a causal connection between hot words and
horrible acts. Simply twin the two in a story, or ask an
interviewee if he thinks these words and those deeds are
not connected. And then let the public imagination do
As of today, there is not a shred
of evidence of any connection between what Sarah Palin
or Fox News said and what Jared Loughner did. From the
evidence, Loughner had his first and perhaps his only
encounter with Giffords in 2007, a year before Palin
ever came to national attention as the running mate
of John McCain.
The man charged with this awful
atrocity is Jared Loughner.
Our country would be better served
if, instead of accusing each other of moral culpability
for these crimes, politicians and media joined to demand
that Loughner be denied the fame (or infamy) he sought,
and that he receive the same swift justice as Giuseppe
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to
VDARE.COM readers; his book State
of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America, can
be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How
Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost
Paul Craig Roberts.