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Gabrielle Giffords

[Joshua Lott for The New York Times]

I’ve been doing my best to find more details about today’s shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson: updating the NYT article, going to Tucson TV station websites, refreshing my RSS feeds, looking every few minutes at The Daily Dish for Andrew Sullivan’s live blogging. I suppose we’ll all know soon enough the identity and motives of the attempted (or perhaps ultimately successful) assassin.

At Sullivan’s live-blogging site now are the items on left and right from the campaign of Giffords’ opponent last year, and the item below from SarahPAC, with Giffords as one of 20 members of Congress in the crosshairs.

(Sullivan writes, “Various Palin sites are frantically removing various incendiary materials – which is both gratifying, but also, it seems to me, an acknowledgment of previous rhetorical excess.”)

How can it be that our far right wing gets to control the use of the word “terrorist”? If you’re a Moslem and you look different, you’re a terrorist, even if you’re a US citizen. But a white American who flies a plane into a federal office building, or murders a doctor who performs abortions, or — I fear — assassinates a member of Congress is … what? A patriot?

Let’s take, for instance, Peter King, himself a member of Congress, who with the change in control of the House is now the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. As reported in mid-December, he

is planning to open a Congressional inquiry into what he calls “the radicalization” of the Muslim community … responding to what he has described as frequent concerns raised by law enforcement officials that Muslim leaders have been uncooperative in terror investigations.

Yet, King was himself a long-time supporter of the IRA. As Alex Massie wrote a year ago:

King has been on a tear since the attempted Christmas Day bombing, attacking the Obama administration at every turn. Earlier this week, he was asked what more President Obama could do to reassure Americans in the aftermath of the failed Christmas Day bomb plot. King’s response? “I think one main thing would be to—just himself to use the word ‘terrorism’ more often.” Even by the standards of the House of Representatives, this is impressively bone-headed.

For decades, King was one of the keenest, most reliable American voices supporting the Irish Republican Army during its long and murderous campaign.

Still, many members of Congress are stupid and the people, bless them, seem quite unconcerned by that. What’s more galling is that King presents himself as a hawk on security issues who, like so many so-called conservatives, is an enthusiastic supporter of torture and, should it prove necessary, nuclear weapons. Listening to King talk about al Qaeda, you could be forgiven for thinking that he’s the terrorists’ most implacable enemy.

Which would be funny if it weren’t such a sour joke. For years, King, who represents a chunk of New York’s Long Island, was in fact the terrorists’ best friend. King wasn’t merely an apologist for terrorism, he was an enthusiastic supporter of terrorism.

Of course it was Irish, not Islamic terrorism that King championed. So that’s different. Right? For decades, King was one of the keenest, most reliable American voices supporting the Irish Republican Army during its long and murderous campaign.

According to King, the terrorist movement was “the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland.”

There’s terrorism, and there’s patriotism. Terrorism is what Moslems do. Patriotism is what white Christian Americans do. Or so it seems.

Categories: Life, Politics, Security
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