The Civil Way to Call Someone a Terrorist

Behold the mentality of the liberal pundit, an unselfconscious display of rank hypocrisy masquerading as virtue that reaches comic dimensions.

During their breaking news coverage in the shocking and confusing moments immediately following the tragic Arizona shooting that took the lives of six innocent people and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, CNN interviewed Arizona Daily Star columnist and cartoonist David Fitzsimmons, who seemed to have it all figured out.  Fitzsimmons

concluded the horrific scene was inevitable because the "rabid right" that had been "stoking the fires of a heated anger and rage" had come to dominate Arizona politics.

Thus began an unfolding mainstream media template that violent rhetoric fulminating solely from conservatives was producing a toxic and dangerous political atmosphere.  President Obama sought to capitalize politically from that media narrative during the campaign speech he tactlessly delivered at the Arizona memorial service, posturing as the great arbiter of civil dialogue.  "But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized," he lectured, "it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."

Initially skeptical of the President's interest in and devotion to holding his own political allies accountable to this newly minted barometer of civility, I must say that after watching the recent debt ceiling debate, it is clear that the liberal left has become the gold standard for virtuous dialogue.

How else can you characterize the eloquent description Bloomberg's left-wing writer Margaret Carlson gave of conservative Republicans, whom she growled had, "strapped explosives to the Capitol?"  Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer challenged her by asking, "I thought that post-Tucson we weren't supposed to accuse our political opponents of being terrorists?"  Carlson seemed bewildered by his query.  After all, she had merely used the imagery of terrorism to describe her opponents...not actually called them terrorists.

Not that there would be anything wrong with that, of course.  Just ask MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who publicly declared his belief that, "The GOP has become the Wahhabis of American government."  And moments after that astoundingly civil indictment of his political opposition, Matthews listened as his equally well-mannered liberal guest, Joan Walsh of Salon, accused Tea Partiers of "hostage-taking" in the debt talks. 

Now, you might think that Matthews, a man who once trashed conservatives for "ugly sounding talk" that demeans their opponents as "not just disagreeable, but evil," would chastise his guest for committing the same offense.  Not quite.  Instead he responded by affirming, "I agree. It's terrorism."  And let's not forget, this would be the same Chris Matthews who soured the universally triumphant and unifying return of Congresswoman Giffords to the floor of the House just days ago with a partisan condemnation of the "violent level of the right-wing."  Physician, heal thyself!

But it's not just Matthews, Walsh and Carlson who have seemingly mastered the left-wing art of tolerantly tempestuous talk.  Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown publicly stated her belief that Congressional conservatives are, "the suicide bombers in all of this."  And the liberal pen of distinguished New York Times columnist Tom Friedman referred to conservative Republicans as the, "Hezbollah faction" of the party, hell bent on a "suicide mission."

But perhaps the most telling examples of just how seriously committed the Democrat left is to sweetening the state of our political discourse come from their elected leaders.  While Democrat Senator Bob Menendez deserves congratulation for his delicate and respectful denunciation of the "tea party tyrants," the real prize for diplomatic dialogue goes to Democrat Representative Mike Doyle.  According to Politico, this liberal healer complained in a two hour meeting with Vice President Joe Biden that, "We have negotiated with terrorists.  This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money."

And to his eternal credit, obviously remembering his boss's admonition that "we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do," the Vice President reportedly concurred of Republicans, "they have acted like terrorists."

And what do we do with terrorists, you ask?  The answer brings us full circle back to Mr. Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star, whose most recent political cartoon depicts President Obama giving the order to a team of Navy SEALs to storm the Capitol and assassinate Tea Party Republicans.

Ah, the civility of the left.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email, visit, or like him on Facebook.