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Washington Examiner


Left Trots Out 'Climate of Hate' Canard, Again

June 24, 2009

By John Leo

Like mushrooms after a rainstorm, “climate” arguments sprout quickly after a political or religious killing, the intent being to gain partisan advantage by tying a lone killer to an opponent’s cause.

After the murders of abortion doctor Dr. George Tiller and Holocaust Museum guard Stephen Johns, climatologists came out in force. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, led the way, writing about “the big hate” among conservatives and arguing that “whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatives and the black helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.”

(Krugman isn’t a consistent opponent of “big hate”--he ran a recent column saying Republicans have always been crazy and published a book with a cover picture of George W. Bush as Frankenstein’s monster.)

Frank Rich of the Times is at it, too. A recent column carried the perfect climate accusation in a five-word headline: “The Obama Haters Silent Enablers.” Lesser known liberals weighed in as well. editor-in-chief Joan Walsh accused Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and Bill O’Reilly of “whipping up” a climate that made the museum murder possible.

Climatologists at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund targeted Lou Dobbs and others last week for “shrill commentaries” on illegal immigration that create “an atmosphere in which some people will act on these demonizing screeds.”

We have been down this road before. Bill Clinton and many others tried to connect anti-government rhetoric to the Oklahoma City bombing. The roots of the bombing, Clinton said, could be found in hatred spread across the airwaves. He left the airwave haters unidentified.

A wave of climate rhetoric greeted the torture-murder of Matthew Shepard. Playwright Tony Kushner accused the pope and the Republican party of endorsing the murder of gays. Kate Michelman, then president of NARAL, used the murder of Dr. Barnettt Slepian to indict the entire pro-life movement “for their role in creating a climate where the zealous feel justified in committing acts of violence.”

Jesse Jackson once said it wasn’t just individuals who were responsible for the church burnings in the South in the Nineties and the murders of 23 African-Americans in Atlanta in the Eighties. No, it was a “cultural conspiracy” that created an atmosphere conducive to violence. Later it turned out that the church burnings weren’t racial and the killer of the 23 blacks was black himself.

Climate arguments show up regularly on campus, often to justify speech codes and the disinviting of speakers on the right. Sometimes the argument is explicit: Since words and deeds are said to be so closely connected, words must be regulated before they lead to frightful deeds.

In recent years, the climate argument has been used primarily by the left. A long list of violent incidents at military recruitment centers might have led someone to try connecting the bombings, shootings and vandalism to the anti-military sentiment common among some liberals, particularly on campuses. But that argument has not been made.

Nor did anyone try to connect Al Gore’s environmental rhetoric to the Unabomber, or mainstream animal-welfare leaders to animal-rights terrorism. The anti-war marches, choked with Bush-is-a-Nazi signs and rhetoric, attracted few climate complaints.

As this vitriol went mainstream, almost every important Bush appointee was labeled a Nazi: Rumsfeld was Goering, Tom Ridge was Himmler, Karen Hughes was Goebbels and Colin Powell was von Ribbentrop. Bush was Attila, Caligula and Ted Bundy.

Professor Marvin Olasky said that the climate argument reminded him of the days when newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst urged his reporters to jump on any disaster and tie it as closely as possible to his political enemies.

Climate arguments do that effectively. Fanatics should be called on their rhetoric, but in most cases, climatology is just a political ploy, intended to disparage opponents and squelch debate.

Original Source:



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