In 2007, Jared Lee Loughner attended a town hall in Arizona organized by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. "What is government if words have no meaning?" he asked the Democratic politician. When she was unable to answer his question, Loughner angrily left the event—and quietly seethed.
Three and a half years later, he came back—this time, armed with a 9-mm handgun. At a January 8 event arranged by Giffords in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson, Loughner went on a rampage, shooting six people dead and wounding 14 more, including Giffords, who remains hospitalized with a brain injury.
And if there is a political connection to the attack, it probably comes from the other side of the aisle, albeit after the fact. Politico quoted a Democratic Party operative shortly after the shooting who said his party should “deftly pin this on the Tea Partiers.”
Politics as usual? Perhaps. Yet I can’t help but wonder why the same liberals who are so quick to blame—without any evidence—conservatives for the Tucson massacre are so slow to reach any conclusions in the wake of more than 30 terrorist plots and attacks by Muslims against the United States since 9/11.
Recall the response of liberals to the Fort Hood massacre in late 2009 by Nidal Malik Hasan, who murdered 13 fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. President Obama, immediately after the attack, said that authorities “do not know what prompted this outrage”—even as it was known that Hasan had shouted the Muslim phrase “Allahu akbar!” during the attack. Some said that he was simply overstressed.
“There was clearly something wrong with this imperfect follower of Islam,” John Nichols of the Nationallowed. “But that does not mean that there is something wrong with Islam. Enlightened Americans ... should be unsettled by the rush to judgment regarding not just this one Muslim but all Muslims.”
Ah, yes—the dreaded “rush to judgment” that we must avoid at all costs! If only New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had gotten the memo before speculating that the person behind an attempted bombing of Times Square last spring might be “a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill.” (The culprit turned out to be a Muslim extremist from Pakistan.) Of course, even when we have amassed enough evidence to make a judgment, we are expected to refrain from coming to any conclusions.
What explains the double standard here? We needn’t dwell on the unfounded attacks against conservatives—who indeed sometimes do engage in inflammatory rhetoric (as do liberals). The bigger question is why liberals are so quick to defend the honor of Islam, which, after all, has a bone to pick with them over liberal sacred cows such as abortion and so-called “gay marriage.”
Part of the answer is that the Left sometimes goes so far to the left and Muslim extremists so far to the right that they end up meeting somewhere in the middle. Most liberals, while taking inspiration from some aspects of leftist ideology, nevertheless remain part of the broad political heritage of the United States.
Scholar (and persistent critic) of Islam Daniel Pipes posits that the extreme Left and Muslim extremists have more in common than we might think. Pipes says, among other things, that the leftists and Islamists share a common set of enemies (the West, the United States, Israel) and similar goals (such as being against the Iraq war and the War on Terror). They share a critique of the United States as a decadent bully on the world stage.
To their credit, liberals, maintain a genuine commitment to multiculturalism. Often this translates into a laudable tolerance of other peoples, faiths, and cultures. Liberals, in the best reflection of their tradition, see themselves as standing up for “the little guy” in defending Muslims, most of whom, of course, are good and decent people.
Yet this multiculturalism and the religious pluralism that can accompany it sometimes devolve into denigration of our nation’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage. While many liberals maintain strong and vibrant spiritual lives—or at least acknowledge the role of Christianity in America’s liberty and economic strength—some display active hostility to biblical faith. We can see this in everything from the annual “Christmas wars” to support of “artwork” that depicts crucifixes drenched in human waste.
However, for reasons of self-preservation if nothing else, no such displays of leftist or liberal disrespect for Islam will ever be forthcoming. But if a two-bit pastor in Florida so much as promises to burn a Qur’an, the drumbeat about “Islamophobia” becomes nearly deafening.
Because the extreme Left believes that all religions are basically the same (or to borrow a phrase from Christopher Hitchens, equally poisonous), its acolytes choose to take aim at the one they consider to be the biggest threat to their secular ambitions. And in America, that would be Christianity. If extremist Islam can help in that project, so much the better.
But if the secularists succeed in their ultimate goal of marginalizing Christianity here, sometime in the days ahead their biggest opponent could change. And that which they have so vigorously protected might, like the proverbial swine, suddenly turn on them.
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