According to the Secretary of State, the manifestly insane Jared Lee Loughner is . . . well . . . read:
In a television broadcast filmed before students in Abu Dhabi, Mrs Clinton was asked why the 9/11 terror attacks, the work of a handful of men, had been allowed to colour American views of a whole people.
She replied that America was “proud” of its many Muslim citizens and public servants, and said that the media exaggerated the voices of those who presented hostile views of the Muslim and Arab worlds.
She then raised the shooting at the weekend of the Arizona Democratic congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.
“We have extremists in our country,” she said. “A wonderful and incredibly brave young woman congress member was just shot by extremists in our country.
“We have the same kinds of problems, so rather than standing off of each other we should work to try and prevent the extremists wherever they are from being able to commit violence.”
Ascribing the Arizona shootings to political extremism rather than the work of a mentally deranged loner has already proved controversial, and President Barack Obama avoided doing so directly in his address to the American people afterwards.
Mrs Clinton may be taking an even bigger risk in comparing the attack, even obliquely, to al-Qaeda’s war on America.
“Extremists” plural? Um, there appears to have only been one shooter involved; the Arizona police have abandoned their search for a second person. And calling him an “extremist” is bizarre; he is mentally ill. Comparing him “even obliquely” to the 9/11 attackers is even more bizarre, they were homicidal, to be sure, but by all indications, they were of sound mind, knew what they were doing, and made a deliberate, immoral decision, rather than one that was driven by the demons of mental illness.
It may be that the Secretary of State said what she said in order to reassure her audience that she, and the United States knew that not all terrorists are Muslim, just as not all Muslims are terrorists. To be sure, not all terrorists are Muslim, and not all Muslims are terrorists, but the cause of truth is not well-served by Hillary Clinton’s utter and complete mischaracterization of Jared Lee Loughner’s status. Clinton’s statement only serves to further muddle the facts concerning the shooting, and only serves to further demagogue the matter by ascribing the shootings to “extremism,” rather than to a very troubled, very disturbed mind.
Far closer to the realms of reality, Chris Cillizza notes that Loughner was a registered independent (I cannot believe that we are still talking about his politics), and closes his post with the following observation:
Loughner’s decision to affiliate as an independent rather than a Republican or Democrat would seem to affirm the sense that while he targeted Giffords in the attack, it was not a decision born of a set of deeply held political beliefs that fit neatly into either party.
An obvious point that an appalling number of people continue to deliberately try to ignore.