George Will, Jim Shella

Dateline: Tue 11 Jan 2011

The Indianapolis Star carries a slightly abbreviated version of George Will's take on Arizona this morning; I liked it well enough to link (above) to a more complete version.

The essence:

"It would be merciful, if, when tragedies occur, there were a moratorium on sociolology. But respites from half-baked explanations, often serving poltical opportunism, are impossible because of a timeless human craving and a characteristic of many modern minds."

Will argues that contemporary people are hell-bent on finding explanations, political and otherwise, for those who choose to kill or fire into a crowd.

When we think we can discern an outline of plausibility, then too often we are likely to assume, Will says, that "...given clever social engineering, society and people can be perfected. This supposedly is the path to progress. It actually is the crux of progressivism. And it is why there is a reflex to blame conservatives first."

(Having lived through the Age of Sociology, which is so much gobbly-gook -- read some textbooks and you will see -- I think Will has nailed it: sometimes people simply choose to do bad, and we may never know why...)

Will provides a history lesson, which we all are in need of, tracing "a continuum of rampages" from Columbine and Virginia Tech to the assisnations of Lincoln and JFK. Historically, we executed assassins, we did not explain them, Will points out.

But with the death of John Kennedy, we looked (in progressive human fashion) for something to make sense and explain away the demented mind that conceived of killing the president -- thus we uncovered a "climate of hate" in conservative Dallas, where Kennedy was killed -- etc. OK, there was, but we all know Harvey's problems were elsewhere (lack of a father figure, an adherence to Marxism).

What Will comes down to is a chastisement of those liberals who are automatically blaming the Tea Pary for the tragedy in Arizona. That would include the New York Times in a recent editorial, which Will quotes.

Whatever your politics, or my politics, I agree with Will's point that it is facile to so easily point fingers; it is "not an idea but a tactic for avoiding engagement with ideas" and shows "limitless contempt" for the American people, he argues.

Well said.

Perhaps it's not fair to pick on WISH TV/Channel 8 political reporter Jim Shella in this context (Will is extremely gifted, intellectually, and the two journalists are not in the same class in many regards -- print vs. TV, liberal vs. conservative, etc).

BUT Shella opened himself up for it when he posted on his blog the following three sentences Monday.

"Any talk of Tea Party  responsibility in the Arizona shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has apparently had no effect on Tea Party activity here.

"Greg Fettig of the Indiana Party just sent out a news release confirming plans to hold a January 22nd meeting to identify a candidate who might unseat Republican Richard Lugar in the 2012 primary.  The release makes no mention of outside events."

HUH? Who said anything about a connection between the alleged Arizona shooter and the Indiana Tea Party (well, the New York Times implicity cast stones at the Tea Party, as quoted in Will's column.)

But where is Shella coming from? I just don't get it.

Shella's comments strike me as irresponisble and irrelevant, not worthy of a seasoned political reporter....

BTW I am no Tea Party person. I voted twice for W, then worked for Obama's election. The two Christmas cards I have received from the White House remain proudly displayed on my desk.

Politicians and reporters should consider that it is us independents who are getting turned off by all this nonsense -- the blame game and the hype.  Whether it's Rush Limbaugh or Bill Mahrer -- enough, already. Too much noise, too little light.

Thanks to Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana for first writing about Shella's comments.








hendy [Member] said:

There are lots of pointers regarding the bellicose members of the Tea Party and motivations for violent action. These are pretty well documented, not that the Tea Party is alone in bellicose members. Shella makes some presumptions based on real evidence. See for the left's take on the matter, and I'm sure defensive 'right' citations will be made here.

We're pissed off, fearful of economic direction, fearful of debt, fearful of the seeming crazed violence in the Middle East and Africa, rudderless leadership, huge losses of dignity as the banality of corporate greed is exposed, fearful of loss of civil liberties, and so on. The common denominator is fear. We have nothing to fear, but fear itself, said Winston Churchill. He was right then, he's right now.

2011-01-11 09:12:13

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I usually like George Will on the Sunday morning ABC show...except: he always sounds like he slept with a Thesaurus. He's an arrogant asshat who can't seem to get down-and-dirty with Donna Brazille, or folksy with other guest panelists.

There is some need for the "pause" button--but keep in mind, when you "pause," we oftne divert our attention (sometimes wisely), & it allows some to slip under the covers.

Sarah Palin quietly removed her cross-hairs over Rep. Gabby's district map. After she tried for a few hours, via a spokesperson, to claim it wasn't meant the way we all took it.

The left has its moments, too. Too many. They seme to own up to them quicker--a defeatest "get the pain over with" attitude.

Sometimes, when you turn on the lights, the roaches all run for the dark spaces.

As long as we all agree, in a more-calm time, to revisit the incendiary language, the suggestive e-mails and commentaries, I'm ok with the pause button.

Recent history tells us we won't do a very good job of re-visiting.

As long as I'm on the soapbox, can I make a plea for mental health awareness and availability?

Starting with Ronald Reagan, federal funding for community mental health centers was cut way back. Doc Bowen, as HHS secretary, fought against that cut, but lost, and ultimately quietly quit.

A lot of that money may have been wasted--I don't really know. But as it stands now, there are fewer and fewer slots per 10000 people, in these facilities and programs.

I'd rather waste a few billion on mental health centers, as a community safety net, than overseas wars we have no plans to win. Said wars, which produce more than their ample share of clients for those mental health centers.

'Just sayin.

2011-01-11 09:43:04

ruthholl [Member] said:


2011-01-11 10:12:14

whosear [Member] said:

Keep in mind that the Tea Party movement is a middle-aged counter revolution towards the predominate values of the, "educated" baby boomers cohort. The demonstrations seemed more festive than bellicose, the commotion at the town halls more theatre than confrontational.

Shoutdowns occur on a frequent basis at universities with tacit and overt support from administration and professors. Should we consider the effects of a university atmosphere in this equation?

For understanding, I've been reviewing, "The Anatomy of Motive" by John Douglas, Retired FBI profiler. I prefer the clarity it gives on this situation to the chaos of the chattering tube.

The best solution requires that the extremes on both sides give up their most cherished value. As most extremists hold on value over all others even when in conflict with another good value, this will be difficult.

2011-01-11 11:36:43

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Who, I'd love to agree.

I attended a Tea Party rally here last year...the signs, and the shouting, were illuminating. I came to one conclusion, unfortunately, and you would've too, if you'd have been there:

These folks are a loose coalition of citizens, with multiple agendas, but an overwhelming majority were pissed that we'd elected a black president who, God forbid, was trying to carry out his campaign promises. Words like "Communist," "Socialist," and "Marxist" were thrown about with no historical relevance or factual basis.

Once you swallow and believe those kinds of characterizations, the more-racist comments flowed like water. And their guilt-by-association mantra is astounding. I'll give you this: they're consistent.

I'm not happy about that conclusion. The signs were ridiculous. The shouted phrases were even more compelling.

I wasn't scared, but the gun references were everywhere, too. I looked over my shoudler a coupla times walking back to my car. They had me pegged. I was listening, and obviously not part of their Amen Corner.

2011-01-11 11:52:26

Seneca [unverified] said:

It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself."

Winston Churchill said, among other things, "We shall fight . . . We shall never surrender."

2011-01-11 12:07:27

hendy [Member] said:

What drives the Tea Party rhetoric? Fear. Fear makes people do all sorts of strange things. Whether these people are plainly stupid is fodder for other forums. They believe in it, and that's a failure of our educational system, and the emotions that fear produce.

They have a right to be heard. The segregationists did, too. So did/do many other vocal minority opinions.

I find Indiana to be the northern most southern state in this regard. We're often no better than the stars-and-bars types in Alabama. It's not really extremism. It's culture, legend, pulpit rhetoric, and fear.

These are real voters. The current regime at the Statehouse in Indianapolis is Republican. Dems weren't addressing the fears, rather, they were castigating the opposition, and Ellsworth lost, Baron Hill, the list goes on. Leading away from fear is the only plausible action.

2011-01-11 12:16:29

VladTheImpaler [unverified] said:

"What drives the Tea Party rhetoric? Fear. Fear makes people do all sorts of strange things. Whether these people are plainly stupid is fodder for other forums. They believe in it, and that's a failure of our educational system"

-- Ah, Hendy, listen to your own rhetoric, all right. Tea Party People=The Stupid. Who's fomenting the uncivility now? And show us the connection between the mentally ill man who murdered and the Tea Party. It's the Democrat sheriff in Arizona who started this whole thing with his rhetoric remarks (unprofessional speculation on the part of top law officer), which became a delicious conspiracy for MSNBC's alleged journalists and political pundits to twist and distort and blow up into something beyond reality and to fit a political agenda. It's the same sheriff trying to deflect blame for his department's failure to deal with the murderer, whose previous threatening behavior, including antics at the community college he attended that were reported to his department before this happened. Love George Will or despise him, at least he possesses some critical thinking skills this country has lost.

2011-01-11 13:50:23

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The Pima County Sheriff was spot-on. Vlad. He's on the ground, he's observed the evidence, the alleged murderer's journals, Facebook, etc.

Don't be angry, but I'm giving him a wide berth on this one. He's there--you're not.

I don't know how many times we have to re-learn the disturbed young white man's getting eerily repetitive.

I wasn't aware the Pima County Sheriff had complaints or information on this alleged murderer--please elaborate. Seriously. I'm all ears.

I didn't get the connection you noted between Tea Party and Stupid.

I DID make the connection between Tea Party rally I attended last year, and a disproportionate gathering of pissed-off racists. I was there. I saw it. It was disturbing. Many of them don't think they're racists. But they're horribly wrong.

But they link themselves together under the Tea party banner, and do great disservice to the original Tea Party's activism.

The fiscal conservative side of their mantra, I buy whole-heartedly. The birther nonsense, and Marxist allegations re: health care policy, made little or no sense.

Didn't then. Doesn't now.

That doesn't make them stupid. It could make them dangerous, but most of the ones I saw were full of hot air, harmless.

Where opportunity/nonsense crossed paths, for me, was the revolutionary talk, the guns, the Second Amendment butchering. The cross-hairs, the Marxist-Stalinist-Leninist talk, the "Second Amendment Solution" shouting. Michelle Bachman on acid.

It's just got to be called out, that's all. Like the Gun & Knife Show ad runing now--which blatantly calls for skinning a rabbit. Disgusting. Trying to be funny ala Barney Fife--but playing into the very stereotype that exists.

As for GW--I like George Will most of the time, but he's pompous as hell. And wrong half the time.

Like most of us.

2011-01-11 14:25:04

hendy [Member] said:

The sheriff is a side issue, but symptomatic of the lack of rational discourse.

If you take a look at emblematic Tea Party members, they're not only a weakly educated bunch ("stupid" was a bad choice of words, I'll admit) but are simply, clearly, and demonstrably: an amalgamation of the disaffected.

They are, as a colleague cited, about a mile wide and one inch deep.

Civility? How does one rationally speak to an amorphous group of ninnies? Groups that blindly call policies that they don't understand, citing most things they object to as "socialism"? What you're seeing there is knee-jerk reaction to bad circumstances on the part of people that believe that they're not being heard. In reality, parts of that are true; they're being seduced by various fringes, not the least of which is Bircher Glenn Beck.

2011-01-11 15:16:25

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I wanted to see for myself, Hendy, so I went. I asked a friendly participant, if the crowd was typical.

"Oh, no, usually there are more birthers here, and worse signs."


2011-01-11 16:16:53

citizenx [unverified] said:

Hey all:

A couple of observations.

These people love their country as much as you. They view things through different, yet no less valid lenses. You are not the arbiters of truth anymore than are they. Your tone is somewhat consdesending. These people care for their country and feel different pain points and pressures than you.

In my experience, most politically motivated violence (Bill Ayers, anyone? Sirhan B. Sirhan?) comes from the left.

That you, any of you, find it interesting that President obama will take time out of his schedule to visit Tuscon on the 12th while he could not find any time to visit Fort Hood after that massacre?

2011-01-11 16:49:52

ruthholl [Member] said:

To Seneca: Thank you for correcting the record on FDR and the "fear" quote. My good friend Lynn Hopper emailed earlier and asked that that quote be properly attributed. Consider it done.

2011-01-11 18:04:44

ruthholl [Member] said:

And on Fort Hood: point taken, CitizenX

2011-01-11 18:06:47

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Oh for Christ's sake, X, the President wanted to go to Ft.Hood. Schedules didn't permit. Quit looking for another "Obama's anti-military" thread. It ain't there. It is very TP, though. So what?

HIs presence in Tuscon is appropriate. The chief judge of the federal circuit was murdered. A Member of Congress was brutally hurt. Five others are dead, six others hurt. Just what would you have him do?

I don't consider myself better than the Tea Partiers whose rally I attended last year. Just different. I wanted to learn more about them, and I didn't go to judge. I went to observe. I wasn't about to let someone else tell me how to think.

If you find my observations condescending, perhaps you need to examine your view. What I saw is what I typed above--and much, much more.

Have you ever been to a TP rally? The signs alone were overwhelming. The speeches were painfully simplistic, but interesting.

2011-01-11 18:20:01

Jason [unverified] said:

For the life of me I'll never understand some of the partisanship people demonstrate here. Not all, but some.

I would challenge anybody to find anything said at a tea party rally that wasn't said conversely at a Democratic rally or vice versa. Oh wait, I forgot, George Bush REALLY WAS a war criminal so that makes it okay, right? The odd thing is how apologists can somehow extrapolate anything into a generalization.

For pete's sake did anybody get the point of the thread?

There's a lot of blame to go around if you want to play that game. I understand it makes good blog food. Guess what, it was nobody's fault but the shooter. NOBODY! NOT Sarah Palin or the NRA or mental health people or the gun control crowd or, for the love of God RONALD REAGAN (evidently in death his spectre still haunts us.) Shella's acting like a lawyer. Will got it right. I started reading the front page of the NYT today and stopped when I got to my first typo, after about 50 words.

Sometimes in life bad things happen and there's nothing anybody can do about it. How's that bumper sticker slogan go again?

2011-01-12 02:16:02

citizenx [unverified] said:


Please do not try to tell me that Obama could not find time in the week following Ft. Hood to visit and give a speech. You state I imply he was being anti-military. I believe he was being more PC and shying away from the fact that a muslim in uniform went berserk and killed those people.

And I have been to a TP event to watch. I am not a member. There are the same range of intelligence and sophistication I have seen at leftist events. I am sorry that the TP people, in their honest concerns, do not meet your far more intelligent and sophisticated standards. They are Americans, too, and entitled to voice their opinions.

2011-01-12 04:39:37

ruthholl [Member] said:

This is just going to be an endless debate. Dan Carpenter resurrects it in the Star today, and I thought his remarks were unusually shallow; Jonah Goldberg has a more thoughtful piece, but of course he is coming from the right. God forbid we should have a moderate speaking out...
Jason is right; a person did a bad thing.
The more I read about the shooter, the more crazy he sounds. Nihilistic, living off his dreams, believing his subconscious was the only reality, the world was "hollow" and finally paranoid re: his friends. A scary guy. He has nothing to do with the right or the left.
And yes, the left has plenty of blood on its hands, as citizenx notes. Nothing is more nihilistic than the communists and their cultural revolution in china; if you wore glasses, you were shot...
And Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground and SLA -- also bloody as hell.
OK, I'm done. I'm going to read the biography of Martin Luther ... maybe I will learn something.

2011-01-12 10:14:52

doug ingersoll [unverified] said:

Fear of consequence is the only thing that keeps us from carrying out acts of immorality, violence, destruction, etc. When that fear is exceeded by a desire for justice that many of us can't afford through the legal system, or a need for retribution as with bulling victims, or some perceived greater benefit as a result of those acts, we then have such incidents. Can fear ever be great enough to prevent them?

2011-01-19 09:21:48

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