National Review Against Itself

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In its editorial on the Arizona shooting, National Review argues that "all of us have an obligation to speak with truth and charity in making our political arguments" – take that, Rush Limbaugh! – "not because hateful talk will drive the mentally ill to criminal acts, but because civility is a good in its own right."

It's a perfectly defensible argument – although it seems odd not to countenance the possibility that extremist rhetoric can indeed drive the mentally ill to extreme acts. But it contrasts in interesting ways with the editorial National Review wrote in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting:

We also suffer from a larger American unwillingness to acknowledge political violence. We rightly applaud ourselves for having avoided Europe’s upheavals. Yet the historic free flow of ideas in this country means that pernicious ones will lodge in the minds of very bad actors. Few of our famous assassins were mere loony loners without political motives. JFK’s assassin was a Marxist, RFK’s was another Palestinian, McKinley’s was an anarchist. Lincoln was murdered by a rogue Confederate intelligence operation. The solution is not to restrict freedom, but to take ideas seriously to flag them and combat them; to monitor those who take them to extremes and to come down on them when they first cross the line to incitement or action; certainly to keep them out of positions of power or responsibility, even to the rank of major.

That's all we're asking!

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