Jewish World Review Nov. 22, 2002 / 17 Kislev 5763

Thomas Sowell

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Who is promoting violence?

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The change from Senate majority leader to Senate minority leader has apparently led Senator Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, into more of the kind of wild and reckless rhetoric that may have contributed to the Democrats' defeat in the recent elections.

According to Senator Daschle, when radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh "attacks those of us in public life" his listeners are "energized to go out and hurt somebody." This is supposed to explain threats that Daschle says he is getting.

That is quite an accusation to make, without a speck of evidence. In more than a decade of listening to Rush Limbaugh, I have never heard him condone violence, much less incite it. Moreover, he has never rewarded people who commit violence with free air time to broadcast their views -- as liberal media journalists do routinely when riots break out to protest meetings of the World Trade Organization or other activities that the rioters don't like.

Raise hell and get free air time on TV is the deal. But not on the Rush Limbaugh program. It is the liberals who are busy trying to "understand" the reasons behind the violence by letting the rioters spout off into network microphones and cameras.

Liberals can be very "understanding" about violence -- provided it is violence from the left. On the very day when terrorist planes were crashing into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon, The New York Times was running a sympathetic story about one of our own home-grown terrorists from the 1970s who had been caught up with by the law.

Where was the outrage from Senator Daschle when environmentalist terrorists booby-trapped trees so that saw-mill workers would be injured -- and could have been killed?

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The double standard is blatant when you compare political reactions to the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber. The Oklahoma City bombing was immediately blamed on conservative talk show hosts, even before the perpetrators were known. But when the murderous Unabomber was captured and a copy of Al Gore's environmental cult book was found in his cabin, dog-eared and with many passages marked up, that was passed over in silence by most of the liberal media.

There is no record of Senator Daschle's ever having accused Al Gore of any connection with the violence committed by the Unabomber that he helped "energize." Even though it is known that the main suspect in the Beltway sniper shootings was a member of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, that fact has likewise been passed over in silence by much of the liberal media. But would they -- or Senator Daschle -- have remained silent if the sniper suspect had been a member of the National Rifle Association or the Christian Coalition?

Rush Limbaugh is undoubtedly the most effective of the talk show hosts when it comes to puncturing the pretensions of the liberals. If unsubstantiated smears like those of Senator Daschle cannot silence him, the next best thing, from liberals' viewpoint, is to discredit him as somehow being behind various threats and acts of violence -- through guilt by accusation.

Meanwhile, even Rush Limbaugh's most telling barbs against the liberals do not match the shameless smears indulged in by Democrats like Tom Daschle and their echoes in the liberal media.

Senator Daschle complains that he has been accused of being an obstructionist. But Republicans have been accused of much worst -- by Daschle and his fellow Democrats. According to them, Republicans want to destroy the livelihoods of the elderly who depend on Social Security, ruin the environment, destroy the public schools, harm the poor, and turn back the clock to a time when blacks did not have civil rights.

It is not known how many threats Republicans have received in response to this litany of political crimes. But the accusations are a lot worse than being accused of being an obstructionist.

Stripped of control of every branch of the federal government, the Democrats have nothing left to offer anyone before the next election, except accusations and scare tactics. Back in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt said: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Today, Democrats like Tom Daschle have nothing to offer but fear itself.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate