Riding That Tiger


Stephen Budiansky won't let the right off the hook:

The unstable young man who opened fire ..., it is already clear, was more of a nut than a political agent. But to those who would suggest that political violence is just some random occurrence, a meteorite falling from the sky and claiming its victims by chance, I would suggest they look to the way that delegitimization of democratic institutions, inflammatory and demagogic appeals to what our founders called "passion" over reason, and glorification of brutality have ever been the handmaidens of the descent to hell of once-civilized societies.

... Never mind even the childish braggadocio about "second amendment solutions" and "lock and load"; the daily inflammatory rhetoric about "tyranny" and "the end of freedom as we know it" and even the name "tea party" itself, invoking revolutionary resistance to despotism, have accelerated an unprecedented delegitimization of the democratic process itself, a suggestion that those who advance opposing viewpoints are not just political opponents but usurpers.

It is not enough for Eric Cantor and his ilk to express consternation that the tiger they tried to ride has got away from them, and what a bad tiger it is. They're the ones who need to put the tiger back in its cage, and in a hurry.

This is not the same as guilt. It's called responsibility. So far, not a single leading Republican has offered even the slightest remorse for the atmosphere they stoked to win back power. If they do not, they will make the fire next time even more destructive, by emboldening the very forces they claim to have nothing to do with.

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty.)