Normally on a slow Saturday, I like to put together something funny to post here. A LOLCat post, something light. Today, I don’t have any sense of humor at all. It was wiped away by the news from Arizona. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot while conducting a public event to meet with her constituents. Six people have died, and they are:
- John M. Roll, 63, a federal district court judge.
- Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, Giffords’ director of community outreach.
- Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a pastor at Mountain Ave. Church of Christ.
- Christina Greene, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary.
- Dorthy Murray, 76.
- Phyllis Scheck, 79.
The shooter has been arrested, and is identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. A second person is being sought. One statement from Pima County Sheriff stands out:
“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” he said. “And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
There are expressions of shock and horror from politicians across the political spectrum. Like the sheriff, people are looking back at the rhetoric that has been infesting our political discourse over the past few years, and wondering if that was the cause. We don’t know the motives of this young man, why he did it. That will come out in the days ahead, and during the inevitable trial. It may be simply that he was an unbalanced individual who acted on his own, it may be something else.
But the reaction in some parts is to try to deflect or spin the suspicion. Erick Erickson over at RedState jumped right on it:
Unfortunately, the left is using this tragedy to score political points. Rep. Giffords was on Gov. Palin’s target list for defeat this past November. The left claims Gov. Palin has blood on her hands. So does the tea party movement.
I’m not buying it. Not this time. For the past two years I have listened to right wing pundits like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others use inflammatory rhetoric, calling for a “uprisings.” I hear reports of Tea Party members gloating about how they intimidated a congressman at a town hall, gleefully telling each other “did you see the fear in his face?” I got a newsletter from my own Congressman detailing the threats his staff received from people around the country. I watched as you cheered wildly while candidates like Sharron Angle made references to “Second Amendment solutions,” I’ve seen the threatening signs promising gun violence at rallies, and I read the comments sections of various newspapers. The news today talks about the threats that Congresswoman Giffords has received, as well as the death threats against Judge Roll. What I haven’t seen was any effort on Erickson’s part, or any of the other political commentators and politicians in the Republican Party to put a stop to the rhetoric. To tone it down, to move to civil debate.
Now they want to deflect, to make it seem like “we didn’t mean it! We can’t be held responsible!” Yes, yes you can. I am holding you responsible. You see, while I’m horrified by this shooting, and I weep for the loss of life, I’m not surprised that it happened. It’s been something that the Right has been setting the stage for for a while. You can’t keep up that sort of rhetoric, play the fear and anger game for so long, without someone deciding to take you seriously. It might not be in this case, but sooner or later, yes. That’s why the press spotlight immediately focused on it. Not because they’re “liberal,” and not because liberals wanted to “score political points.” It went there because all the rhetoric, all the encouragement, the incitement makes it an obvious aspect that draws suspicion.
But think that all the people on the right are horrified? Think again. This is a screen capture from Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, a message from one of her supporters:
Yeah, you want to tell me again about how the comments about the Right’s rhetoric are unjustified? You own this. It’s up to you to put a stop to it.