When a radio host asked me what I thought of the massacre in Aurora, Colo., I had to ask for clarification. I said: "What do you mean? Who could deny it's an unspeakable tragedy?"
What he was really asking me was to address it in a political context. The problem is that I don't believe there was any political context to the shooting; not everything is political.
But unfortunately, elements of the left seemed determined to graft political implications onto the event, irrespective of the absence of any factual basis for doing so. They seized on it both to demonize grass-roots conservatives and to pump new life into their perennial campaign against the Second Amendment.
This is part of a leftist pattern to rush to the judgment that every such event is politically motivated -- by disgruntled right-wingers. The Daily Caller made a similar observation, citing such examples as The New York Times' speculating that the pilot who crashed his small plane into a Texas office building was "The First Tea-Party Terrorist" and Time magazine's wondering aloud whether tea partyers were behind the hanging death of a census worker in Kentucky.
But let's not forget the more high-profile examples: when President Bill Clinton pointed an unmistakably accusatory finger at conservative talk radio after the Oklahoma City bombing and when Democrats galore lurched to blame Sarah Palin and tea partyers for the Tucson, Ariz., shootings.
So it was hardly surprising that ABC News' Brian Ross noted on "Good Morning America" that a person with the name of the alleged shooter, James Holmes, was a registered member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots or that David Gregory, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," in discussing the Aurora shootings, casually invoked President Clinton's words about the Oklahoma bombing.
While pretending to refrain from ascribing political motivations to the Aurora shooting, Gregory said, "But President Clinton's words back in 1995 could be true today, couldn't they, about how some of the public discourse can fall on more vulnerable ears?"
No, David, they weren't true when Clinton said them in 1995; they weren't true when Democrats attempted to exploit the Tucson shootings for political gain; and they are manifestly untrue with respect to the Aurora shootings, so shame on you for hinting otherwise.
Some have correctly observed that the left is engaging in psychological projection in seeing conservative politics behind every act of violence. That's true, but I believe there's more to it than that.