More cruelty from right-wing crackpots

While liberals debate whether it's OK to criticize the president on a day of mourning, wingnuts waste no time blaming Virginia Tech victims.

Published April 18, 2007 9:22PM (EDT)

The difference between liberals and conservatives, Chapter 973: While liberal Salon readers were debating the decorum of criticizing the president on a national day of mourning over the Virginia Tech massacre, conservative bomb throwers wasted no time criticizing ... the victims.

It's not just Mad John Derbyshire yesterday -- "Where was the spirit of self-defense here ... [W]hy didn't anyone rush the guy?" That was bad enough. Today the National Review's Mark Steyn blamed the "awful corrosive passivity" of Virginia Tech students for not defending themselves against Cho Seung-Hui. He even mocks the male students as somehow not quite being men. (I found this at Think Progress.)


"We do our children a disservice to raise them to entrust all to officialdom's security blanket. Geraldo-like 'protection' is a delusion: when something goes awry -- whether on a September morning flight out of Logan or on a peaceful college campus -- the state won't be there to protect you. You'll be the fellow on the scene who has to make the decision."

The hideous Michelle Malkin is even worse. "There's no polite way or time to say it: American colleges and universities have become coddle industries," she begins (as if she's ever thought about a polite time or way to say anything). She continues: "Instead of teaching students to defend their beliefs, American educators shield them from vigorous intellectual debate. Instead of encouraging autonomy, our higher institutions of learning stoke passivity and conflict-avoidance.

"And as the erosion of intellectual self-defense goes, so goes the erosion of physical self-defense." Malkin then goes off on a predictable rant against the Virginia law that prevents guns on campus.

So let's sort this out: On a day when people of conscience and common sense are asking what makes a miserable young man turn to guns and violence, conservative provocateurs are insisting the answer is more guns and violence. Over three tragic days, I've found solace in the actions of two Virginia Tech professors: the courageous Holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu, who died blocking the door so his students could get away, and English department chair Lucinda Roy, who tutored Cho personally when other students were afraid to be in class with him; who tried to get him counseling, and even went to the police with her concerns about the dangerously depressed student. But Malkin and Steyn are telling me Librescu and Roy are actually part of the problem.

Of course, I'd rather be in the camp where people debate whether it's OK to criticize the president in a time of tragedy than in the camp where people blame the victims of the tragedy. I actually feel sorry for decent conservatives today, having to be soiled by association with such garbage. But if you ever find yourself wondering why liberals are so often out-shouted in the public sphere, even though most Americans agree with their politics, remember this moment. It isn't easy to compete with wingnuts who will say absolutely anything to make their points. When Ann Coulter's cracks about the 9/11 widows start to look tame by comparison, you know standards of public discourse are continuing to erode.

By Joan Walsh

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