A southern state with a history of intense politics. A politician shot in the head in an outdoor public setting. A rush to blame right-wing politics and a "climate of hate."
It's all been done before, people, and those rushing to judgment were wrong then, just as they are wrong now.
In Dallas, 1963, in the immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination, there was also a quick condemnation of the political right. Texas, we were told the evening of the shooting, was full of crazies, John Birchers and hate-mongers. It's no wonder, Walter Cronkite and the other media elites told us, that such a poisonous atmosphere of conservative politics would produce someone capable of shooting the president.
Except, of course, it turned out that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't driven by a dislike of taxes, socialism or intrusive government. Turned out he was a Commie. Turned out that he loved the Soviet Union enough to have defected, lived there and married a Russian woman. Turned out he was active in the "Fair Play for Cuba" committee, which was mad at Kennedy for his allegedy being too tough on Castro and his communist regime. Turned out he loved Karl Marx and The Communist Manifesto. Turned out he was a lefty, through and through, and that the media's knee-jerk attacks on the political right had no basis in reality.
For nearly 50 years we've had to put up with crackpot "conspiracy" theories about JFK's demise, in part because the political left had a hard time dealing with the fact that one of their own had shot the President.
Saturday, history repeated itself in the aftermath of the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. Within hours, a former state senate colleague was on the airwaves, denouncing the Tea Party and laying the blame at their feet. The idiotic sheriff of Pima County jumped right up to lay the shooting at the feet of conservative political commentators, blaming "the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates."
The New York Times surrendered its right to ever be taken seriously again when it editorialized "...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..."
The usual gang of idiots - Keith Olbermann, Paul Krugman, Eugene Robinson, Roger Simon and other lefties - immediately piled on, blaming conservative politics for the shooting.
But it turns out that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was another lover of The Communist Manifesto. A classmate described him as a "left-wing pothead." The weight of the evidence we have seen so far would seem to indicate that Loughner is simply a mentally ill loner with delusions of grandeur, not driven by any political ideology.
The left's history of reactions to violence is illustrative. When a Muslim fanatic shoots 13 people at Ft. Hood while screaming "Allah Akbar," we're told not to "jump to conclusions" about his ideology. When a lefty filmmaker creates a hate-filled movie about shooting George W. Bush, we're told it's just "artistic license." When another jihadist tries to explode a bomb in Times Square, Mayor Bloomberg says, "Maybe he was just mad about health care." When John Hinckley shot Reagan, no one on the left decried the biter, hateful rhetoric that was common in the first months of Reagan's presidency.
The world is full of crazies, and the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords is a senseless tragedy. But just as the left brought shame upon itself in the aftermath of JFK's shooting, it has done so again in the past two days. It's an old cliche to say "Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it," but that appears to be the case for people like Olbermann and others who want to try to turn tragedy into political gains for themselves.