The Real Purveyors of Hatred

I would like to introduce you to Eric Fuller, in case you haven’t yet heard of him. I’m not sure how much coverage this man is getting in the mainstream media, but he just may be the face of the unhinged Left.

Fuller was in the crowd in Tucson the morning that Jared Loughner decided to unleash himself on the world. Two of Loughner’s bullets hit Fuller—one in the leg and the other in his back. His injuries were not serious, and he is out on the street again doing what he does best—agitate.

Getting shot does not make Fuller a hero. In fact, the reason he was at Rep. Giffords’s meeting that morning was to confront any Tea Party activists who might show up, “to shout them down because I can make a lot of noise,” Fuller explained. His business card identifies himself as a “political circulator.” In fact, shortly before Loughner opened fire, Fuller was in a full-scale confrontation with a former Marine in the crowd. The discussion was apparently so heated that Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords’s aide who was killed just minutes later, had to intervene to stop Fuller from escalating the argument further.

Lately, Fuller has become infamous for a number of comments:

  • “It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle, and the rest got their first target.”
  • “Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled … senseless hatred leading to murder, lunatic fringe anarchism, subscribed to by John Boehner, mainstream rebels with vengeance for all, even 9-year-old girls.”
  • In an interview with the New York Times: “[Republicans] appeal to simple-minded rednecks.”
  • In that same interview, he repeatedly referred to the “Tea Party crime syndicate.”

Then on Saturday, Fuller was in the audience at an ABC townhall broadcast in Tucson. One of the invited attendees was a Tea Party organizer, Trent Humphries. Throughout the meeting, those sitting by Fuller were increasingly concerned by his behavior, uncomfortable being near him. Finally, he rose up, took a picture of Humphries, and declared, “You’re dead.” At that point, sheriffs took him into custody and escorted him from the room. His final words to everyone in the room? “You’re all whores!”

Can any fair-minded person compare Fuller’s fulminations with words spoken by Palin, Beck, Rush, or anyone on the Right and draw a moral equivalence between them? All this talk of civility needs to begin with those who are the real purveyors of hatred, not those the media routinely accuses.

Note: After writing this post, I read where Fuller apologized to Humphries for his actions. One hopes this is sincere, yet being taken into custody and turned over for psychological evaluation can lead a person to do whatever is necessary outwardly to avoid consequences. I will be convinced this is genuine when his life mirrors his words.

Palin's America by Heart

I bought Sarah Palin’s new book, American By Heart, just before Christmas, knowing I would have time to read it before my new semester began. George Bush’s book took priority, since it was longer, so I didn’t finish Palin’s book until last weekend—an appropriate time to complete it as it coincided with the shooting in Tucson and all the accusations against Palin. The image presented by the far Left, that she is vitriolic [last week’s favorite word, later followed by “civility”] and uses rhetoric that spurs people on to violence, cannot be sustained in light of what Palin herself writes. I wonder if any of those who hate her have taken the time to read what she actually has written?

Unlike her earlier autobiography, which naturally concentrated on her upbringing, her family, and her experiences as the vice-presidential candidate, this new book provides the opportunity for her to express what she really believes about government, the place of America in the world, and the significance of religious roots for the health of our society. It allows her to construct a framework, or worldview, within which to understand her positions on the issues that confront us all, whether in culture or in politics.

Palin also makes extensive use of quotes from a panoply of conservative thinkers and politicians from Alexis de Tocqueville to Calvin Coolidge to one of her favorites and mine, Ronald Reagan. I was also gratified that she recognized the value of Whittaker Chambers in our history.

Yet she doesn’t confine herself to conservatives, pulling excerpts from speeches by John F. Kennedy and others not of her political stripe—even from Barack Obama himself.

Here’s a quick rundown of the emphases of the book:

Chapter one, “We the People,” stresses the significance of the nation’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. God-given rights, as posited in the Declaration, and fidelity to the limits of government’s power, as delineated in the Constitution, are cornerstones of liberty.

She turns in chapter two to an appreciation of those who serve in the military, contrasting that appreciation with the disdain shown by Hollywood toward the armed forces, where a reflexive anti-Americanism often surfaces. She also quotes freely from John McCain’s account of his time as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Her respect for McCain’s service is genuine.

From the military, Palin segues into an examination of the concept of American exceptionalism. Is American exceptional? In what sense? Here is where she draws on the writings of Tocqueville to highlight what an eighteenth-century Frenchman saw when he visited this country. America is not perfect, she is clear to note, but it is exceptional in many ways. The problem is that some national leaders no longer believe in that exceptionalism.

Family, parenting, and the pro-life message come next. Here’s where Chambers enters the picture as she relates his account of how meditating on the intricate design of his daughter’s ear led him to think of a Creator.

Her chapter on Mama Grizzlies contains her concept of feminism, a feminism that empowers women but doesn’t degrade men or try to erase the distinctions between the sexes. That leads into a discussion of the value of hard work, which she contrasts with the self-esteem culture that seems to dominate our society today.

In the final three chapters, Palin focuses on the importance of religious belief for all of life and the nation. Without being preachy, she nevertheless traces how religious beliefs have been the foundation for our society from the beginning. Never, though, does she imply that government should step in and force religion on anyone. In fact, she quotes former attorney general John Ashcroft saying, “It’s against my religion to impose my religion on others.”

Palin’s conclusion is entitled “Commonsense Constitutional Conservatism,” and if she does decide to run for the presidency, I believe this will be her slogan.

Do I have any criticisms of the book? Well, I don’t share her belief that 12-Step programs are part of a religious revival. In fact, I believe they do a disservice by calling something a disease that is actually a sin. I also think she could have cut back a little on some of the quotes. Of course, that comes from my academic milieu, where you don’t want to overdo the quotations. Yet those are quibbles when compared with the positive message she shares and the agreement I have with the other 99% of the book.

For those who believe Sarah Palin is a danger to America, that she is a purveyor of hatred, I challenge them to read this book. They won’t agree with her but they might see a different person than the stereotype they have adopted. If they really believe in civility, they will take this first step and not fall into a stereotype of their own:

Is that really how they wish to be perceived?

Palin's Fitting Response

So much has been written about the unsubstantiated accusations regarding the Tucson shootings that I hate to dwell on it, but the cartoonists have just now caught up with the issue, thereby providing some pertinent commentary. One has compared the conspiracy mentality with the ongoing mania over Pres. Kennedy’s assassination back in 1963:

Who are the real crazies here?

It was only a matter of a couple of hours before the accusations started flying:

It kind of brings to mind the infamous quote from former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel:

In this case, though, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik stood in for Rahm. The whole thing has become rather surreal:

As most of these cartoons recognize, Sarah Palin has borne the brunt of the false accusations. What do you do when you are accused of being responsible for the actions of a deranged individual? She could have remained silent, of course, but a measured response, I believe, was necessary. She delivered that measured response yesterday on her Facebook page in the form of a video dealing with the entire situation.

For the video, go here. I watched it carefully, and came away impressed with the manner in which she handled not only the accusations, but also with her upbeat spirit as she pointed Americans toward a proper perspective on the events of the past few days.

Some of her best lines are the following:

Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

That is a statement pointing to personal responsibility for one’s actions—one heard all too rarely nowadays. She also called the journalists on the carpet for their irresponsibility:

If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

Palin delivered her message with a soberness befitting the tragedy. She decried the political atmosphere around the tragedy without focusing too much on how she personally was a prime target. All in all, it was a fitting word for a troubled time.

Yet her critics pounced again: the use of the term “blood libel,” they yelled, means she is anti-Semitic. Even liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz came to Palin’s defense on this one, making it clear that the term has a much broader usage in our society. Palin, when she was governor, had an Israeli flag in her office; her evangelical Christian faith ties her spiritually to the Jewish people.

Commentator Jonah Goldberg made fun of the reflexive, knee-jerk Palin critics, noting that if she had used completely innocuous terms, they still would have found something wrong—probably criticizing her for her use of semi-colons. And as that famous philosopher Forrest Gump reminds us, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

There’s a lot of stupid going around these days.

Loughner: The Facts

When Megyn Kelly of Fox News interviewed Sheriff Clarence Dupnik on Sunday, she pressed him on the issue of whether any evidence existed that Jared Loughner was at all influenced by politics. Dupnik danced around the question, but ultimately had to concede that no evidence had turned up that the killer acted because he had been encouraged to do so by talk radio or any political movement.

Dupnik, of course, famously initiated that line of thinking with his ill-timed opinion at a press conference on Saturday. Ever since then, the media generally, and the political left specifically, have done all they can to cast blame on [in the following order] Sarah Palin, conservative radio and television commentators, and the Tea Party.

This rush to judgment is in direct contradiction to the facts. First, take a look at the mugshot for Jared Loughner.

Isn’t that about the most maniacal facial expression imaginable? The facts coming to the surface about Loughner belie any attempt to connect him with conservative politics.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, he is a self-confessed atheist. The Tucson newspaper has also intimated that there might be a type of shrine in the backyard of his home with a skull on top. That is not confirmed, but either he is an atheist or an occultist, which is not necessarily contradictory as he can be the latter and still deny the existence of a benevolent God.

He was kicked out of community college for his bizarre behavior; classmates felt threatened by his presence, with one even stating that she sat near the door to get out quickly, if necessary. His algebra instructor said he feared turning his back to the class in case Loughner might pull out a gun.

He was rejected from enlisting in the army. Privacy rules don’t allow the army to give the reason publicly, but it’s not hard to guess that either he came across as mentally unstable, or it was obvious he used drugs. He apparently is a Truther, believing that the Bush administration is responsible for 9/11, and he thinks the Mars Rover landing is a hoax perpetrated on the American public.

How about politics per se? The news has now been released that he is a registered independent who didn’t even vote in the last election. So much for being an outraged Tea Partier.

This mountain of personal information suggests one thing, and one thing only—this is a very emotionally disturbed man who lives in a fantasy world. Now, by that, I don’t mean he is insane; I believe he knows exactly what he is doing. He is responsible for his actions. He—and he alone—is to blame for what occurred on Saturday.

Yet the drumbeat of false accusations refuses to diminish.

There is hope, however, that the absurdity of the charges will undermine the accusers themselves. They deserve that fate.

The Tucson Tragedy

When we celebrated our one-year-old grandson’s birthday in Tucson on December 29, I went to the nearest grocery store to buy the ice cream. It was a Safeway store located in a shopping center on the corner of Ina and Oracle. On Saturday, that very store was in the news as the scene for a most horrific shooting. As I have watched the coverage the past couple of days, I can visualize from my own experience the very spot where one young man carried out his sinful deed. Less than two weeks ago, I was there.

The object of his ire apparently was his congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. He succeeded in shooting her in the head, yet even though the bullet went through her brain, she remains alive in an intensive care unit. Doctors are cautiously optimistic, but any recovery will be slow. In the process, the shooter, later identified as Jared Loughner, killed six people outright, one being federal judge John Roll; a total of twenty were injured by his bullets. Fortunately, he was captured on the spot and is now in custody.

Almost immediately, information on Loughner surfaced. I’ve seen his You Tube screeds. If you’ve seen them, you know they are largely chaotic in nature with a logic that sometimes defies definition. Without doubt, they are the product of a troubled mind.

He is an atheist—that much is clear. Beyond that, it’s difficult to find much consistency in his belief “system,” if that’s the proper term for it. On the one hand, he writes about reading the Constitution and believes in holding gold rather than fiat money. Yet he’s not a “conservative.” Two of his favorite books are The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. His atheism separates him from traditional morality based on God’s law. One of his high school acquaintances remembers him as someone who was “left wing, quite liberal” politically. Another called him a “hater,” adding, “He was a goth-type. He was more of an outcast.”

In other words, he is in no way connected, philosophically or in practice, with modern conservatism or the Tea Party movement.

That has not stopped some extremists from using this tragedy for their own political purposes. Leftist bloggers have already blamed Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and any opposition to the Obama agenda for Loughner’s actions.

I was watching the Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, in his news conference Saturday evening when I was bowled over by his editorializing. I’d never heard of Sheriff Dupnik previously; I had no idea of his political leanings, but he didn’t leave a nationwide audience in the dark for long.

He immediately rushed to judgment, placing the blame for the shootings on what he called “vitriolic” comments from talk radio [code for Rush Limbaugh et. al.]. He then proceeded to trash his own state of Arizona, labeling it the most bigoted state in the nation [presumably for its strong stance against illegal immigration]. This man was supposed to be giving an update on the day’s proceedings; instead, he chose to unleash what I would consider to be “vitriol” of the lowest caliber.

Yesterday, in an interview with Fox News, Dupnik followed up his initial comments by declaring that Loughner’s actions were the result of an atmosphere created when “one party is trying to do something to make this country a better country and the other party is trying to block them.” For Dupnik, the party trying to make things better is the Democrats and the party trying to block them is the Republicans.

Can this man be trusted to be involved in an honest investigation of the facts?

The one thing the sheriff said that was true is that the political discourse has become heated. He didn’t help the situation, however; all he did was fan the flames with false accusations. The New Testament book of James provides this instruction:

But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Let’s allow the righteousness of God to come to the forefront at this time.

God, Reason, & C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis has popped up on this blog a number of times recently. I gave a thumbs-up to the movie Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and I commented on Sarah Palin’s reliance on Lewis for spiritual inspiration. Actually, that was more of a comment on the cluelessness of those who critiqued her for relying on an author of children’s books, thereby displaying for all to see the ignorance of the critics.

I would like those critics to read more of Lewis, so I’m going to use a few of his quotes today so they will understand the depth of his meditations. For instance, I wonder how many of those critics have pondered the issue of objective moral law vs. subjectivism. Here’s Lewis on that topic:

The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law. But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his own creation.

We are seeing the fruit of that subjectivism in our society today.

For those who believe they have an argument with God for some reason, Lewis offers this caution:

There is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and he wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.

And finally, a very succinct observation and a word of instruction:

An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut.

That one seems tailor-made for the Palin critics.

Breaking Out of the Ignorance Ghetto

What do Sarah Palin, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Joy Behar have in common? The first two, quite a bit; the last one only by virtue of her ignorance.

Last night, a Barbara Walters interview with Palin aired on ABC. One of the goals for Palin in the interview was to put to rest the notion that she is not a reader. “I read anything and everything that I can get my hands on as I have since I was a little girl,” she explained. When asked about her favorite reading material, one of the authors she highlighted was C. S. Lewis. She reads him, she said, “when I want some divine inspiration.”

That comment spawned another one online, from Joy Behar, who chimed in, “Didn’t he write children’s books?” This was another one of those snarky attempts by a cultural and political liberal to demean Palin’s intellect. Behar, who has made quite a name for herself on the Walters-sponsored program The View, apparently couldn’t resist the opportunity to make fun of the former vice-presidential candidate. Behar is already well-known for her acidic comments about the Christian faith, so this was sort of like a two-fer for her: she could lampoon Palin and chuckle at a Christian writer of children’s books simultaneously.

Well, she’s certainly correct about the fact that C. S. Lewis wrote some children’s books: undoubtedly she’s familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia. The movies based on the series have been quite successful.

The newest one, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, actually opens today. Ms. Behar should go see it.

But anyone who thinks Lewis was only an author of children’s books is badly misinformed. Perhaps Ms. Behar doesn’t realize he was a highly respected scholar of literature. His own writings span from serious literary criticism to science fiction to philosophy. I would recommend to her anything he has written for her edification, but when it comes to worldview, his Abolition of Man is outstanding. It could rock her world if she were to approach it with an open heart.

Behar obviously is ignorant of the real Lewis. That might come from hanging around with other ignorant people too much.

It’s time for her to break out of her ghetto. There’s a whole new world out there to explore. Sarah Palin knows about it.