Back when someone, or some group, or possibly extraterrestrials, shot President Kennedy, Democrats were quick to claim that Dallas was a "City of Hate" because of its Republican leanings. The fact that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was a card-carrying Communist who'd send Republicans to the prison camps first of all, made no difference; the slander against conservatives survives to this day as a generally-accepted "known fact" with no basis in reality but no hope of correction.
The media lies had a palpable political effect: the shower of false blame made conservatives a bit more reluctant to voice their views about the excessive spending of Kennedy's successor Lyndon Johnson, whose social programs started us on the road to financial ruin.
From that day to this, media leftists have learned that any slander against conservatives, no matter how ludicrous, can be made to stick. The New York Times predicted that centrist European parties who have traditionally welcomed Muslim immigration would try to exploit Mr. Breivik's recent massacre in Norway:
The political fallout will be unpredictable in part because Europe is still so varied in its political landscape, with each country’s different history and culture. Norway, for instance, is not a member of the European Union.
That may make it harder for a left-leaning politician to seize the initiative against conservatives the way that President Bill Clinton did after the Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by a right-wing extremist. Trying to link mainstream politicians to the beliefs of Anders Behring Breivik, who the authorities in Norway say has taken responsibility for the killings and whose lawyer says is insane, is also risky. [emphasis added]
Blaming conservatism for any crime committed by anyone who can be cast as a conservative has been a popular tactic for fifty years, because for all that time, the mainstream media so dominated debate that no other views could get any traction at all.
Media bias became evident when the political affiliations of the Palestinian activist who shot Robert Kennedy were ignored, and when the media refused to blame the Clinton administration for the attack on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Despite their spin having become known, liberals were able to blame conservatives for the Oklahoma City bombing and help President Clinton dominate the dialog.
The fact that the New York Times believes it may be difficult for left-leaning politicians to exploit the massacre to attack conservatives doesn't mean that they won't try. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Europe's anti-immigrant parties, which have done well in a series of national elections in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and other parts of the Continent, use rhetoric very similar to Mr. Breivik's. Those parallels have exposed the movements to accusations that they have fostered a political environment that encourages intolerance that can spill into violence.
"When you repeat these theories over and over again, crazy people get ideas," said Mehmet Koksal, a Belgian-Turkish political analyst.
Mr. Koksal is right, in a way; with the media constantly repeating false and discredited theories that conservatives are violence-prone, crazy people in government office do get evil ideas of repression.
However, conservatives have finally learned the lesson to to just stand there and get beat on. Prominent European conservatives are loudly and forcefully distancing themselves from Mr. Breivik, or more accurately, attempting to shine a glaring spotlight on the vast difference that's already there. Geert Wilders, who leads the anti-immigrant Netherlands Party for Freedom, said, "Mr. Breivik is a psychopath who violently abused the war against Islamization" - hard to argue against that.
Can liberals out-shout the truth with the help of the media? The atmosphere seems to have changed since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
When a left-wing extremist shot Rep. Giffords, the American media tried to pin the shooting on a "culture of violence" that had been created by conservative politicians who had targeted her for electoral defeat, saying they'd given a crazy person ideas. This attack on conservatives didn't work nearly as well as blaming conservatives for the bombing had; if anything, it backfired, and while all Americans have sympathy for the recovering Rep. Giffords, she isn't some moral icon as her party leaders hoped she'd become.
There are several reasons for this:
We may be seeing a similar decline of liberal power in Europe. Welfare-state liberals are inherently pro-immigrant because so many immigrants go on welfare. They can be counted on to vote for politicians who offer "Vote for Me - Free Lunch (VMFL)."
For decades, the great and the good have trumpeted the joys of diversity and the strengths of multiculturalism. As in the United States, Europeans who were concerned about the influx of Muslim barbarians, impoverished Africans, and other non-European groups were made to feel like bigots or worse.
Recently, however, the problems caused by unassimilated immigrants have become so visible that voters are complaining regardless of what their rulers think of them. In response to voters' sentiments, some European leaders are publicly admitting the obvious: that multiculturalism simply hasn't worked. As the New York Times put it,
On the big picture, Europe’s cultural conservatives are right: Mass immigration really has left the Continent more divided than enriched, Islam and liberal democracy have not yet proven natural bedfellows and the dream of a postnational, postpatriotic European Union governed by a benevolent ruling elite looks more like a folly every day. [emphasis added]
As voters feel greater and greater pressure on their way of life, they're rebelling against supporting these particular beneficiaries of the welfare state. Anti-immigrant parties have gained ground in England, Italy, and in Holland.
In France, Mr. Le Pen, the most rabid anti-immigrant politician on the continent, made it to the second round of voting for the French presidency. His daughter and successor as head of his National Front party recently polled ahead of current President Sarkozy.
No matter how the great and the good manage to insulate themselves from the cultural unpleasantness caused by so much immigration, ordinary voters feel it keenly. It will be interesting to see whether European liberals will be able to use Mr. Breivik's murderous actions to hold back the anti-immigrant tide. The mainstream media will help them as much as possible, but as in the United States, they may spend their last few scraps of popular confidence in order to do so.