Monday, April 19, 2010

False Equivalents

Right now on Facebook, PBS News is running a thread asking people what they remembered most about the day Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The first few comments were interesting:

--"The horror and actions of McVeigh and others, who called themselves Christians but proved they were pawns of the devil, committing heinous acts of murder."

--"Worrying upon the impact upon my Muslim friends & neighbors if the bombers hadn't turned out to have been who they turned out to have been...."

--"The staggering realization that someone calling themselves an American Patriot truly would choose to unleash his anti-government rage on a building full of American citizens, civilians, including those 19 children in the daycare facility."

--"Pres. Clinton's amazing speech, that those who attack their own will "inherit the wind,"..."

Notice the thread:
1. McVeigh was a Christian.

2. We should be most concerned with political correctness.

3. Patriotism is misplaced.

4. President Clinton was great!

If I didn't know better, I would assume that the commenters read Byron York's opinion piece,
How Clinton exploited Oklahoma City for political gain
. York notes how President Bill Clinton and strategist Dick Morris exploited the tragedy in Oklahoma City to smear talk radio hosts and Republican critics of Clinton's administration. Apparently, the smear job has stuck, if the comments on PBS's thread are any indication.

Timothy McVeigh's horrendous attack on the Murrah Building in OKC has become the counterpoint by the left to any concerns about Muslim extremists in the U.S. Go to any liberal website and you'll find the claims that McVeigh was a Christian, proving that Christians are just as likely to fly airplanes into buildings to kill infidels as any group of Saudis. It's predictable outcome: note the extremism of millions of Muslims and within two comments, someone will bring up McVeigh's "Christianity."

McVeigh was a Christian the same way someone who isn't Wiccan is a Christian. If you were baptized in a church but never attend, how Christian are you? And how much does Christianity affect your worldview? I would guarantee that it has less than nothing to do with a violent guy like McVeigh. In 2002, Maggie Gallagher researched McVeigh's faith and whatever impact it had on his decision to bomb a federal building. The answer is zilch. McVeigh didn't kill 168 people in Oklahoma because he was a Christian. He killed them because he was a fanatic of a different sort.

When did McVeigh suddenly become an example of Christian extremism? Gallagher explains that we have an exact date: September 11, 2001.
On Sept. 17, 2001, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist blurted: "The hijackers are no more typical Muslims than Timothy McVeigh is a typical Christian." On Oct. 4, a USA Today columnist picked up the refrain, describing Sept. 11 terrorists as having "more in common with Timothy McVeigh, whose twisted paramilitary take on Christian retribution led him to avenge the Davidians' death."

Timothy McVeigh, Christian terrorist. How has such a patent falsehood spread so quickly and easily through responsible media? Evidently the psychic need to equate Christian fundamentalists, millions of whom have lived peacefully in America since its founding, with radical Islamic terrorists who commit mass murder simply overwhelmed standards of journalism. Or, one might add, common decency.

But the comparisons with McVeigh don't end with his religion. Bill Clinton is now using the 15th anniversary of the bombing to attack those who disagree with Barack Obama's government.
Finally, we should never forget what drove the bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves. They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them...

As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.

Emphasis mine.

This is bullshit. It isn't like large groups of Americans are talking about violently overthrowing the government (although, if you read the blogs or watch MSNBC, you'd be forgiven for thinking there are millions of white people threatening to overthrow the government). What Clinton and the Democrats are scared about is that so many people--independents and conservatives--are taking to the street to protest the outrageous and obnoxious policies of this administration. These aren't violent protests like liberals engaged in in the 1960s. These are peaceful. And large. Which is why Democrats are astroturfing like it was 1978.
(T)his must be exquisitely frustrating for professional Lefty operatives. They have almost everything that they need. They have a solid majority in both Houses of Congress; an Executive branch run by a Democrat and which contains all sorts of people willing to quietly do them favors; a media that largely takes their claims at face value; a plethora of funding; and even a broad outline of goals. They have all these things, but they lack one thing – one thing – and that’s actual warm bodies. They can’t even fill a coffee house reliably, let alone a field.

The really funny part? They’ve never needed to pack the room or the field before; because the Right. Doesn’t. Do. Protests. We bragged about it: “We have jobs.” So they never had to worry about that, until now. And it turns out that being able to bring out the people is actually an absolutely vital prerequisite for having a successful populist movement.

The TEA Party attenders aren't Timothy McVeigh., nor are they the 9/11 hijackers, the shoe bomber or any of the other extremists we've seen, and comparing them to violent criminals is disgusting.