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How Should Conservatives Respond to the Arizona Shooting?

All of us at The Heritage Foundation were profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred this past Saturday morning in Tucson, Arizona. We mourn all of those who lost their lives and are praying for a full recovery by all of the surviving victims. As Speaker John Boehner said Saturday, “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.”

Unfortunately, some have chosen to use this tragedy for political gain. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the Democrat who refused to enforce SB 1070, told FOX News‘ Megyn Kelly this weekend that the shooting was caused by an “atmosphere” created when “one party trying to block the attempts of another party to make this country better. ” In case there is any doubt in your mind who Sheriff Dupnik was talking about, one veteran Democratic operative, who, like Sheriff Dupnik, blamed overheated rhetoric for the shooting, told Politico that President Barack Obama should “deftly pin this on the tea partiers.”

Pressed by Kelly to identify ANY evidence linking the shooter to the tea party, Sheriff Dupnik admitted he had zero: “That is my opinion. Period.”

Americans like Sheriff Dupnik, who claim that they are interested in creating a more civil discourse, ought to think long and hard about pointing their fingers at other peoples’ words before making completely unsubstantiated accusations. Those who blame the rhetoric of their political opponents for these heinous crimes, when no such evidence exists, only further coarsen our civil discourse.

It is the mission of The Heritage Foundation to seek an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish. A civil discourse is a key component to any functioning civil society. That is why we avoid all ad hominem attacks. But America is also well served by a muscular debate that fleshes out what the ideas are behind the policy proposals being considered. We cannot let one disturbed individual and political opportunists silence debate. That is why attempts to politicize this attack, even while Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) fought for her life immediately after the event, represent the worst, and most cynical aspect of Washington. That is the exact tone that Americans are entirely sick of.

It’s time to heal as a nation, undivided, and under God. 

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