Dear Mr. Will,
I was very disappointed in your latest op-ed piece. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/10/AR2011011003685.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions It seems that you are (or have become) oblivious to the bizarro world in which semi-automatic weapons are currently being engraved with "you lie" (courtesy of Republican Joe Wilson and the NRA), rifle crosshairs and "reload" are the focus of Republican ads, websites and campaign speeches 'targeting' Democratic candidates (courtesy of Republican/Tea Party's Sarah Palin) and Tea Party speakers
at rallies admonish listeners with "if ballots don't work, bullets will" (courtesy of conservative radio host Joyce Kaufman).
Rather than even considering whether such rhetoric is indeed being widely propagated by right-wing candidates and media outlets, if such rhetoric is appropriate or could conceivably
provoke some lunatics, you proceed to pontificate on "a characteristic of many contemporary minds." Condescendingly, you describe liberal/progressive "susceptibility to the superstition that all behavior...is a product of promptings from the social environment." With 'compelling logic' no doubt derived from your impeccable sociological and psychological credentials(or lack thereof), you maintain this naive 'superstition' produces a reflex whereby progressives blames conservatives for any randomness they don't like.
You conclude that Howard Dean, NY Times columnist Charles Blow and a recent NY Times piece on Tucson are clear examples of an entire "generation of liberals whose default position... is to indict opponents as racists. This McCarthyism of the left-devoid of intellectual content, unsupported by data-is a mental tic, not an idea but a tactic for avoiding engagement with ideas."
And where is the intellectual content in your piece? Is it in the contention that liberals/progressives are susceptible to naive superstition which compels them to blame conservatives for everything? Is it in the contention that a whole generation of liberals practiced "McCarthyism" calling all who dared oppose them racists? Mr. Will, where is the "data" to support your allegedly 'intellectual content’, which the left has been so "devoid" of for decades? You obviously prefer an ideological rant against liberals to serious intellectual consideration of the several specific points raised in "Bloodshed and Invective in Arizona" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/opinion/10mon1.html?_r=1 which WERE supported by data:
"Last spring, Capitol security officials said threats against members of Congress had tripled over the previous year, almost all from opponents of health care reform. An effigy of representative Frank Kratovil Jr., a Maryland Democrat, was hung from a gallows outside his district office. Ms. Giffords’s district office door was smashed after the health vote, possibly by a bullet. The federal judge who was killed, John Roll, had received hundreds of menacing phone calls and death threats, especially after he allowed a case to proceed against a rancher accused of assaulting 16 Mexicans as they tried to cross his land. This rage, stirred by talk-radio hosts, required marshals to give the judge and his family 24-hour protection for a month. Around the nation, threats to federal judges have soared for a decade....
That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal.
Its gun laws are among the most lenient, allowing even a disturbed man like Mr. Loughner to buy a pistol and carry it concealed without a special permit..."
You refuse to even consider that " 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. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people." Those, sir, ARE ideas, repugnant though you may find them! Your espousement of “sh_t happens, execute the ____ and get over it!” couched in an ideological diatribe is nothing but a hackneyed avoidance of engagement, a sorry excuse for intellectual content!