Paul Krugman, writing in today's New York Times says that the line between the mainstream right the extreme right has been erased:
Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.
Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.
And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.
He then starts sharing a list of conservative media stars such as Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh and even actor Jon Voight for stirring up the passions and laying the ground work for extremists.
Now, I really don't care about Rush Limbaugh and think he is symptom of a problem within the GOP. But even I can see that there isn't a straight line between Rush and James Von Brunn, the shooter at the Holocaust Museum.
From reading news reports about Von Brunn, it sounds like he didn't need Rush or Glen Beck to get him angry. He seems to have lived a life filled with hate long before Rush ever took the airwaves.
It's also not like the Left is innocent in talk that has been rather uncivil. As Cathy Young notes, there has been a fair amount of bad talk on the left as well.
In the end, such partisan bickering is really about the lack of civility in our society today. We have become warring political camps and we see the Other as not some that has differing views on politics, but someone that is capable of pure evil.
The other side of this is that each side thinks of themselves as pure and good, standing up to the rising hordes of evil.
It would be nice if folks on the Left and Right would look at the logs in their own eyes before pouncing on their sisters and brother's specks.
It would also be nice if both sides would stop using such tragedies as excuses to prove how evil the other side is. The killing of doctor in a church, and the shooting of guard just doing his job should be a time when the nation comes together, not come apart.