While Sarah Palin tries to make herself out as the real victim of the shootings in Arizona, even going so far as to compare herself to Jewish victims of “blood libels,” the right-wing echo-chamber has been busy spinning the shootings in Tucson. After Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips called Jared Lee Loughner “a liberal lunatic,” conservatives eagerly promoted his claims. NewsMax claimed that Loughner has links to “left-wing politics” since his favorite books include “‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf,’ and the fiction classic ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’” The American Family Association’s news service declared the “AZ shooter a leftist, not tea party supporter,” quoting Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America who “believes there is substantial evidence to show that suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, is an angry leftist who hates America and Christianity.” The RightNetwork’s Gateway Pundit maintained that Loughner is a “Left-Winger” because he “likes watching US flags burn & favorite book is ‘Communist Manifesto,’” and WorldNetDaily said Loughner may have been influenced by a “liberal group founded by Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers and funded by President Obama.”
Rush Limbaugh even alleged that Loughner “has the full support of a major political party in this country. He’s sitting there in jail; he knows what’s going on. He knows that a Democrat [sic] Party — the Democrat [sic] Party — is attempting to find anybody but him to blame.”
But when the Right isn’t attempting to paint Loughner as a liberal, they try to demonize Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. Right-wing writer Michelle Malkin today called Dupnik “The Worst Sheriff in America” and condemned his “vulture-like exploitation of the shooting rampage.” Dupnik, who has spoken out against the role of violence and hate mongering in politics, has found himself in the crosshairs of conservative pundits and politicians. Now, Malkin seeks to blame the Sheriff for the shooting and accuses him of seeking publicity for himself and attempting to “criminalize conservatism”:
Dupnik’s mouth has done more to stoke self-inflicted ire against elected government clowns than anything the right could muster against him. Had the hyper-partisan Democrat been more in tune with his job than the media airwaves, the murderous, maniacal gunman might have been stopped.
As Dupnik himself has now admitted, Loughner leveled death threats against others that were investigated by law enforcement — and then apparently shrugged off. Locals note that Loughner’s mother worked for the county and may have had some pull. Pima County College campus police reported five serious confrontations with the mentally unstable young man before he was kicked out of the school, which he decried as an unconstitutional “torture facility.” Classmates said they feared for their lives. His friends say he was a pothead, a 9/11 Truther and a UFO conspiracist so kooky that even flying-objects adherents spurned him.
Despite zero evidence that Rush Limbaugh, cable news, the tea party movement or immigration enforcement activists had anything to do with Loughner’s warped attack, shameless Sheriff Dupnik shows no signs of shutting up.
The worst sheriff in America is walking in the footsteps of another infamous law enforcement official who put fame, ambition and ideology above public safety: disgraced Montgomery County (Md.) Police Chief Charles Moose, the publicity-hungry Keystone Cop who grossly bungled the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002.
Dupnik is now following the same ill-gotten path. But decent Americans understand that he and his civilian counterparts have traveled a smear too far. Despite desperate attempts by the progressive left to pin the massacre on the “harsh tone” of its political opponents, a vast majority of Americans reject the cynical campaign to criminalize conservatism, suppress political free speech and capitalize on violent crime for electoral gain.