You Have to Watch What You Say

When you’re a United States Congressman, you have to take special care what sort of public pronouncements you make, as they are taken to have much greater weight and significance than utterances from your average “shock jock.” Not best known for his great tact, Colorado’s own Congressman Tom Tancredo crossed a line while recently on a radio talk show. As one prominent “shock jock” has written eloquently in response:

Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo’s speculation about using nukes on Mecca following an act of nuclear terrorism in the United States is the most irresponsible statement any American official can make. It will be on al-Jazeera within the hour, and it will be used by jihadists against us. Such speculations send the message that we are at war with all of Islam. We are not. We are at war with a slice of Islam that is radical and violent. Statements like Tancredo’s invite all of Islam to think they are our enemy.

Every media voice that was raised against Dick Durbin’s asinine comparison of Gitmo practices to those of Nazis and Pol Pot should speak with equal pointedness against Tancredo’s speculation. There is no defending this type of speculation, and no excuse for airing it. Congressman Tancredo has been a guest on my show, and his account of his travels to Beslan and account of the massacre there is some of the most moving talk I have heard on the subject. But this response was incredibly stupid, and his apology –unlike Durbin’s– should be immediate and complete.

Ditto. Unlike Durbin, Tancredo holds no leadership position on Capitol Hill. Unlike Durbin’s party, the GOP should have no problem giving out a reprimand to one of its own for such a knuckleheaded statement. Although I respect Tancredo greatly for his integrity and frequently agree with him on the issues, this is a no-brainer: he needs to make a serious, full, and unwavering apology.

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