Liberals have exploited the shooting in Arizona for their own benefit, according to one prominent Tea Party group, casting inappropriate blame on the movement in an attempt to silence it.
The Tea Party Express, one of the four most prominent national Tea Party groups, had this to say in an e-mail to supporters Monday afternoon (full e-mail at the end of this post):
One thing that surprised us [after the shooting] was how many in the news media and liberal political figures and organizations immediately launched into an attack on the tea party movement - assigning blame for the shooting to our grass roots, Constitutionalist movement in general, and Gov. Sarah Palin in particular.
Friends, this is outrageous.
It is quite clear that liberals are trying to exploit this shooting for their own political benefit, and they used deception and dishonesty to try and smear all of us and our beliefs.
You know what the truth is? The truth is that the shooter, Jared Loughner is the one responsible for this atrocity. But liberals are trying to place the blame on society for embracing the tea party movement.
We here at the Tea Party Express find that disgusting and revolting. ...
As the meaning of the Arizona shooting is parsed, the tea party movement has come in for a heavy share of the blame. As Joshua Green points out, the tea party movement has been a locus of anti-government anger and full of heated rhetoric, and, because of that, this shooting will influence the way media covers the movement going forward.
Because this shooting follows an angry and divisive political year -- and because Democratic lawmakers were threatened and Giffords's office was vandalized -- many people have concluded that the lesson here is to tone the talk down. Given the obvious foreshadowings of political violence, it's hard to blame people for reaching that conclusion. The tea party movement has been at the center of debate over violent rhetoric for some time now, so it makes sense that attention has turned to tea party groups in the post-shooting reflection.