Tucson

I fully agree with both Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein that Members of Congress are getting bad advice about how to protect themselves in the wake of Tucson.

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After the horrible tragedy in Tucson, many are rightly criticizing Sarah Palin’s use of crosshairs on a campaign map showing the districts represented by members of Congress she wanted to oust in 2010, including that of Gabrielle Giffords. It isn’t the only example of Palin’s penchant for inflammatory imagery or language.

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Warning label: This article will make civil libertarians unhappy. Read at your own risk. We are embroiled, alas, in a politicized argument about the slaughter in Tucson.

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In the wake of the Tucson massacre, the left is attributing the violence at least partially to a “climate of hate” encouraged by anti-government extremists on the right—the phrasing used by Paul Krugman in his latest column—a reaction made easier by conservatives’ frequent use of violent and intimidating rhetoric since 2008. Conservatives have responded by alleging the politicization of a random act of violence by a lunatic, and sought to place themselves in the ranks of victims of the event.

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Yeah, okay, I’ll write about her. But really only because I want to quote Ta-Nehisi Coates: I would never put gun-sights on the districts of my political opponents. Should violence break out, I don’t even want to be in the conversation as a factor--contributing or causal. We may never know what caused Loughner to snap. But at night, I’d like the security of knowing that it could not have possibly been me. Perhaps Sarah Palin has that sense of security. I can’t know. It’s always tough to try to get into the heads of our politicians.

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Does anybody truly believe, even in the wake of something as hideous as what happened in Tucson last weekend, that we can do something as quixotic and indefinable as policing incendiary language on the web? I get it if calling for this is about politics. But is anybody really thinking that this debate is about something real? The object of discussion is real enough: the coarser brand of language we hear along the lines of Ms. Palin’s “Don’t retreat, reload” line, which is a symptom of a larger ill, the escalation of political polarization.

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Perhaps the stupidest and least surprising comment about the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson came from New York Times columnist Matt Bai. Bai, the author of an interesting book about Democratic politics, analyzed the political environment—the universe of discourse that framed the alleged attempt at assassination by Arizonan Jared Lee Loughner. Here is what he wrote: Within minutes of the first reports Saturday that Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and a score of people with her had been shot in Tucson, pages began disappearing from the Web.

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In Her Own Words

WASHINGTON—There is one commentator whose words should enlighten us on the meaning of Saturday's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the savage murders that took the lives of, among others, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

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Who Versus Where

Last week on this blog, I riffed about one of the more interesting findings to emerge from our State of Metropolitan America report—that demographically, our nation’s major metropolitan areas didn’t always look very much like their geographic neighbors.  To illustrate the point, I looked at the Southeastern seaboard, which counts metropolitan members from each of the seven demographic categories we identify in the report, from the “Next Frontier” region of Washington, DC to the “Industrial Core” area of Augusta, GA.  We argue that metropolitan demographic peers may have more to learn from one

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Bad Land

Severe recessions can make people crazy and mean. During the Great Depression, immigration to the United States from Mexico virtually ceased, but states began arresting and deporting Mexicans, many of whom were in the country legally. The Mexican population of the United States fell by 41 percent during the 1930s. And the same kind of thing is happening again. The recession has sharply curtailed illegal immigration to the United States.

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