The false equivalences floating around in response to the shootings in Arizona are ridiculous defensiveness. There's one party here that engages in eliminationist rhetoric at the highest levels, that gets amplified by the media even if it's a bleat on twitter. On the other side, some bloggers said dumb things. (Though really, is "she's dead to me" the same thing as "don't retreat, reload"? I can see grandmothers using one of those phrases but not the other. But that's beside the point.)
Furthermore, in the wake of events, one side apologizes and starts talking about how rhetoric can influence crazy people, and the other says things like "Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence" or "It's genuinely revolting...I think it sinks to the level of evil [to suggest that the language of the tea party can encourage violence]." They double down and respond with more threatening language.
Jon Stewart last night said "I do think it's a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with enemies, if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifestos of paranoid madmen, and what passes for acceptable political and pundit-speak." Today, Townhall Magazine named him the 28th "most dangerous liberal in America."
Actually, I hope that Americans WOULD take up arms against tyranny, evil, and fascism. But I hope it's patently obvious to most people I know that we are not dealing with any of those things. The use of those kinds of words to deny one's political opponents' legitimacy is a threat to political discussion.
But use of those words is part of two really common right wing tactics. Accuse the other side of doing the things you're actively doing to distract from the fact you're doing it, and then accuse them of politicizing things before they do it to innoculate yourself. These false equivalences obscure the subject at hand.
When you call things like health care bills totalitarianism, it becomes harder to identify actual movements towards totalitarianism (like, say, claiming the power to hold people indefinitely without trial). If you respond to being called out for saying something hateful by saying both sides do it, you're making it harder to find the line between tasteless and inflammatory.
It's straight out of Orwell. What has really shocked me in the wake of these shootings is the tendency for people to play along with this stuff.
Anyway, I don't want to hear Sarah Palin or anyone defensively whining. I want to hear what they will do to show respect to their political opponents. To stop using fear and anger to motivate their supporters. I guess I'd just like to hear them take a little personal responsibility. Not responsibility for the shooting, but for their own actions. And I'd like to see them take a little personal responsibility for what's going to happen going forward.