"Palin's list has a gun sight over our district; they have to realize there are consequences to that."
~ Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Nov 2010
“The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. … People tend to [downplay] this business about all the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences.”
~ Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik press conference on Rep. Giffords Shooting 1-8-10
When there is blood in the streets at a political event, blame demagoguery. U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords from Arizona was the victim of an assassination attempt yesterday, and many others lost their lives in this domestic terrorist attack, including a nine year old child born on 9/11.
The attack was carried out by an assault-weapon wielding assassin of a currently unknown political stripe. In your heart, though, you know this gunman is from the right, whose messages he heard, and whose words his actions are a response to. The writing on the wall is now stained in blood.
On the day when the unthinkable happens, it is clear that lives have been lost for the fool’s gold of political victory. Now, the sanguine consequences of those trivial battles are forever etched into our American consciousness.
When watching Glenn Beck on Fox News (randomly) the night before this attempted assassination, I was shocked at how flippantly he spoke of an impending Civil War and coaxed an audience member to compare our times to those of previous violent conflict in America. Of course, Mr. Beck has been playing with this fire for months now, targeting other people and organizations with his vile venomous rhetoric; some targets of Mr. Beck’s arguments subsequently became the targets of attempted assassins too. Now, we are all snakebit by his venom.
Fox News commentator Sarah Palin placed a bulls-eye (literally) on a map of Rep. Giffords’s district; in a statement of revealing complicity, Sarah Palin has pulled down that website and removed those images, apparently only now understanding the implication of putting a fellow politician in between cross-hairs. What did you think was going to happen, Sarah?
Running last year in a heated campaign against Rep. Gifford, Republican Jesse Kelly (a cause du jour of the right-wing) touted his love of assault weapons in constant fundraising ads on the Drudge Report and held fundraisers “targeting” Rep. Giffordswhere shooting assault weapons with the candidate was the selling point. Clearly, Mr. Kelly, we pay for what you get.
Republican Tea Party U.S. Senate candidate Sharon Angle said during the campaign, “This Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking towards those 2nd Amendment Remedies. They’re saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around.” Welcome to the reality of your first “remedy”, Ms. Angle. Real Americans refer to these as acts of domestic terrorism.
A leader of the Tea Party in Arizona said in the news-media,“Giffords is Toast” – an expression used to convey ending, finishing, and death. Sadly, this insidious idiot may end getting his wish, but thankfully not yet.
With the assassin’s identity revealed, he is obviously insane. More informatively, on websites he lists favorite books as Ayn Rand’s “We the Living” and Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, as well as espousing bizarre monetary conspiracy theories alongside anti-government, anti-federalist, pro-gold standard screeds . Sounds like Tea Party to me.
With a preview this week of mail-bomb attacks on Maryland state government offices and bombs discovered in DC attempting to target Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano(a favorite target of the Drudge Report who refers to her derogatorily as “Big Sis”), it is clear that the right-wing has finally pushed some maniacs over the edge with their poisonous rhetoric. Many who have listened to Beck and the rest of the right-wing noise machine have taken up arms against their fellow citizens, and now they have engineered a successful terrorist attack.
Homegrown domestic terrorism from the radicalized right-wing is now the most significant threat to the safety and security of America.
This is not the first time a member of Congress’ life has been taken by violence and demagoguery. Rep. Leo Ryan from California remains the only member of US Congress to be murdered in the line of duty. Today, as we await conclusive news of Rep. Giffords condition, let us hope it remains that way. Rep. Ryan, along with members of his Congressional staff, were also the victims of blind followers of a radical demagogue who called them to violence. Today, that story seems all too familiar, with media cult leader Glenn Beck playing the part of religious cult leader Jim Jones.
Let it be known that “words that work” to inflame emotions can have violent consequences. With bullets flying in the public sphere, numerous Americans are dead, and we have all lost a little bit more innocence. Let this moment of shared sorrow bring with it the renewed promise of peaceful civility in our politics and calm the flames of political prejudice before it consumes our country & all of us with it.
May you recover from these vicious wounds Representative Gabby Giffords. God bless your family and the families of the other victims – we will keep you all in our prayers. For all those who played a part in this atrocity, directly or indirectly, may God have mercy on your wicked souls.
I wrote these words when Glenn Beck held his event last summer in DC on the day that the “I have a dream speech” was delivered by Martin Luther King Jr –a voice of courage silenced by cowardly gunfire. At that time, I was convinced by some persons that perhaps these words were too incendiary – that they went too far in assuming unthinkable consequences. Below are the relevant paragraphs from the text, speaking to American civility, rhetorically-impelled violence, and the impending threat that has now been realized.
“Glenn Beck has made a career out of separating Americans from one another; his source of strength comes from promoting the balkanization of our politics along ideological lines. … If this political prejudice prevails then we have lost our sense of brotherhood, our community of common purpose, and a love of country that is greater than one's love of self. These were the true driving forces behind the words, the works, and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Will we watch as those in our generation destroy those noble impulses with words? Must we wait to awaken to the alarm of violence and gun-shots before we once again foresee the danger posed by the most poisonous tongues stoking our fears and creating mass paranoia? Has this become acceptable in America?
Because at some point in the not so distant future, an individual who embodies that fear, accepted that skewed worldview, and sought to do something about it will pick up arms against their own fellow countrymen. In fact, it has already happened. And soon, it will happen again. In truth, we all know where responsibility lies. In addition to the individual who placed a finger on the trigger of a gun, there should (and will) be fingers pointed at those who knowingly triggered this murderous, sociopathic impulse.
Must we wait to speak the truth until there is once again blood in the streets? No, we all know in our gut where this verbal assault leads. This is the America that Glenn Beck sees in our future - the America he "plans" to bring about through his work. If he is successful in that venture, then we have failed somehow in our responsibility. For if one voice calling out to many can incite some of us to lay down our political discourse in favor of bloodshed, then those who were silent were complicit.
This day is not about Beck, and it should not be, but that does not mean what he is doing is inconsequential. His actions must be recognized, addressed, and rejected, especially by those who share his political stripe. … “Silence is betrayal”, to quote King.
The question we should ask ourselves this Saturday, August 28th is this: Does the dream of a better America survive, or do we eventually fall back into this nightmare of violence once again? And on this day when we should be remembering the words of a great American father, let us not forget that it was words of hatred and violence, put into action, that ended his life prematurely.
Let us remember that words have consequences – whether they are the words of a King or the words of a clown– and that in our words we impel the actions of others for good or for evil. Let us stand up for the former - those praiseworthy souls who exemplified the best of our human nature - and pray for mercy on the souls of those who preach the latter.”