Which crime is the fault of my political enemies? Take your pick.
The most recent crime attributed to somebody's political enemies is the Kansas City Jewish community center shooting. Glenn Miller/Frazier Glenn Cross, the alleged murderer in that incident, has very distinct views of the sort that you might expect of a man who yells "heil Hitler" when arrested and is a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. That is, he's completely fucking out there with nothing more than an opportunistic link to mainstream politics in this country (he ran for office as both a Democrat and Republican).
But why the hell not lay his crime at the feet of former Rep. Ron Paul (and use that as an excuse to dredge up old attacks against the guy) because Miller said unsolicited (by Paul) nice things about him?
The Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok, who has already attributed opposition to President Barack Obama to racism, went on MSNBC to link Miller's crime to a supposed surge in hate groups fueld by white fears over the "browning of the American population."
Or maybe the nutty neo-Nazi's crime was really the work of the lefty Nation's Max Blumenthal, who is critical of Israel.
This kind of crazy has to be a one-off, right?
Nope. Hanging nasty crimes on political opponents is a popular pastime, with conservatives and the Tea Party as the main recipients in recent years of the most bogus links to shootings, bombings, and the like.
The Boston bombing may have been the work of the the Tsarnaev brothers, two Muslim extremists from Chechnya, but that didn't stop Michael Moore from turning it into right-wing terrorism. "Tax Day. Patriots Day," he Tweeted.
NBC's Luke Russert also thought that was a fair conclusion.
Well, OK; Infowars said the U.S. government did it. But really, that was Infowars.
And Jared Loughner's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was somehow the fault of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Those connections came even as some of those making the charges, like Slate's Jacob Weisberg, admitted the shooter was "crazy" and probably suffered from "schizophrenia"—characteristics that would seem to take political intentions out of the equation.
Occasionally, righties get to return the favor and link their opponents to crimes—like the shooting at the Family Research Council, which Michelle Malkin hung around the neck of left-wing criticism of the organization. Political opportunism, like crime, has no intrinsic ideology of its own. But, as of late, this has mostly been an intellectually lazy sport for liberals and progressives, who see an opportunity to slam opponents without having to expend too much brain sweat on actually examining ideas and arguments.
You know who was really responsible for those crimes? The individuals who committed them, not some thoughts they may or may not have shared with people who didn't hurt anybody.
Below, see an excerpt from The Independents in which Reason's own Matt Welch takes on political smears and intellectual laziness.