After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot on Jan. 8 by a berserker who killed six others, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and wounded 13, the media were aflame with charges the right had created the climate of hate in which such an atrocity was inevitable.
The Washington Post story on the massacre began, "The mass shooting ... raised serious concerns that the nation's political discourse had taken a dangerous turn."
Following Barack Obama's eloquent eulogy and call for all of us to lower our voices, it was agreed across the ideological divide that it was time to cool the rhetoric.
This week, however, hate speech was back in style.
After Donald Trump called on Obama to release his original birth certificate and produce the academic records and test scores that put him on a bullet train from being a "terrible student" at Occidental College to Columbia, Harvard Law and Harvard Law Review editor, charges of "racism" have saturated the airwaves.
To Tavis Smiley of PBS, this was a sure sign the most "racist" campaign in history is upon us. To Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg of "The View," this was pure racism. To Bob Schieffer, CBS anchor, an "ugly strain of racism" is behind the effort to get Obama's records.
Again and again on cable TV, the question is raised, "What, other than racism, can explain Trump's call for these records?"
Well, how about a skeptical attitude toward political myths? How about a legitimate Republican opposition research effort to see just how much substance there is behind the story of the young African-American genius who awed with his brilliance everyone who came into contact with him?
Trump is testing the waters for a Republican campaign. One way to do that is to attract the party's true believers by demonstrating that, if you get nominated, unlike John McCain in 2008, you will peel the hide off Barack Obama. Is there anything wrong with that?
As for the birth certificate, it was The Donald who forced Obama to make it public. Not in two years had anyone else been able to do it. The White House press corps did not even try. The pit bulls of Richard Nixon's time have been largely replaced by purse dogs.
Not since Jack Kennedy has a president had a press corps so protective of the man they cover -- though in Kennedy's case, they covered up a lifestyle that could have ended JFK's presidency.
Trump is drawing crowds because he speaks in plain language and appears unintimidated by the high priests of political correctness.