This from the NYT’s opinion page:
….It is hard to resist payback, like pointing out the violent rhetoric directed against President George W. Bush from the left. Despite all of the strong rhetoric directed against Ronald Reagan (remember, some civil rights leaders said he’d legitimize Nazism in America after his 1980 election), I can’t remember any conservatives blaming Reagan’s shooting by John Hinckley on leftist rhetoric, or still less on Hollywood for a nutjob who took his model from “Taxi Driver.”
But this blame-setting shows an appalling historical ignorance and lack of perspective. The very first election in history where power passed from one political party to another without violence was our election of 1800, when Jefferson turned out Adams. It was the first time, as Lincoln observed, that ballots replaced bullets. The vitriol in that election would make Fox News and MSNBC blush.
Jefferson, the Federalists said, would bring the guillotine and French Jacobin terror to America. Adams, the Republicans responded, was intent on refastening the tyranny of the British monarchy. Reason TV offered a perfect representation of what an attack ad from that campaign would look like if they’d had 30-second spots back then, not to mention the fact that in those days people often ended their political quarrels through duels (see: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr). Is political vitriol really worse today? Get a grip….