"If You Can't Stand the Heat . . ." ("Harry Truman would have had little patience for the notion that caustic political rhetoric causes murder")

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    Jan 12, 2011 5:31 PM GMT

    But in the U.S., assassination has almost always been the work of a lone, and usually lonely, gunman—albeit one often obsessed by politics in one way or another. Charles Guiteau, who shot President James A. Garfield, did so because he had been denied a diplomatic post in Europe for which he had no qualifications whatever. Leon Czolgosz, who shot William McKinley, had recently been attracted to anarchism. But other than a brief conversation with Emma Goldman he had no direct contact with the leftist fringe of American politics. Only the assassination of Lincoln was the work of a conspiracy, and a very inept one at that.

    In a democracy of 308 million people there will, inevitably, be both rhetoric that is outside the bounds of polite society and a few individuals who, while perhaps not insane by legal definition, are at least as pathetic as they are evil.

    To use a tragedy such as the one in Tucson on Saturday as a means of attacking one's political opponents, to accuse them of at least accidental complicity in it, is itself well outside the bounds of proper political rhetoric and even of common decency. It also denies historical reality

    Also related: http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2011/01/11/the-sixties-were-violent-not-today/?singlepage=true (The Sixties Were Violent, Not Today):

    And kick ass they did, hurling Molotov cocktails, setting off fatal bombs, and shooting police. Well, it was the sixties and the early seventies and that was what we did and said then. Ask Bill Ayers and others of the time who remain unrepentant. I’m not one of them. I think it was crazy.

    But I bring it all back now for one reason — to point out that what we are going through currently, this supposed period of extreme rhetoric bemoaned by so many pundits and politicians, is but a minute radar blip compared to that era.

    And some of these pundits and pols are old enough to remember. Apparently, they choose not to. But to remind them, we were in an era then of genuine political assassination — RFK, MLK — not faux political assassination (actually the purposeless, near random act of a paranoid schizophrenic.) But as I recall few were calling for us to dial down the rhetoric. The anti-government forces had tons of supporters in the media, silent partners cheering on all but their most violent acts (and who knows about those). Norman Mailer, among many others, made his life and reputation in such a manner on the “steps of the Pentagon.” Hey, hey, LBJ, indeed
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    Jan 12, 2011 7:06 PM GMT
    ...lol, were the leaders of the two Parties doing those things? Nope.

    What was the quality of their rhetoric at that time? That's worth comparing. Also worth considering is just because something was done before doesn't make it right.