Words have consequences. And words from Sarah Palin and Tea Party fanatics contributed to the tragic shootings in Tuscon that killed 6 people and wounded a number of others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who appears to have been specifically targeted by the shooter.
Sarah Palin and the Tea Party fanatics rallied their supporters with violent rhetoric and images. And while they will deny it, I agree with the Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik that the hate and violent talk contribute to an atmosphere that promotes violence being acted out, not just being voiced.
“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,” said the sheriff. “And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
When asked by a reporter if Giffords being shot could have been motivated by “prejudice and bigotry,” Dupnik responded, “All I can tell you is that there’s reason to believe is that this individual may have a mental issue. And I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol.”
Last year Sarah Palin picked 20 Congresspeople to try to defeat out of 435 Representatives. One of these was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. Palin graphically and pictorially didn’t just target Giffords. She put together a map and put gun sights on each of her targeted members of Congress. The image is and was offensive and got her lots of attention and didn’t seem to hurt her image among her supporters. Many unfortunately accepted it as just part of the politics of today. I think the media unfortunately gave Palin a pass on this one when really they should have challenged her.
You can see the images on Huffington Post in an article entitled “Sarah Palin’s PAC puts Gun Sights on Democrats She’s Targeting in 2010″. These images crossed the line of rational political discourse and I believe have contributed to the tragedy that occurred in Arizona. They have no place in politics in America.
Sheriff Dupnik’s comments are right on about the dangers of inciting violent imagery in politics.
And as the Huffington Post reports:
Giffords expressed similar concern, even before the shooting. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin’s decision to list Giffords’ seat as one of the top “targets” in the midterm elections.
“For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,” Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.
Gifford’s Tea Party opponent also contributed to the tragedy in Arizona with his radical brand of violence inciting imagry and deeds. In the same article cited above it is reported that:
During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.
We need as a people and a nation to reject this violent hate promoting type of politics as expoused by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. It has no place in a civilized society. It time to return civility and rational discussion to politics and reject the hate mongering and negativity currently being promoted by the conservatives.
Conservatives in the past used similiar outrageous imagery and hatemongering against the blacks in the South to put conservatives in office. Enough is enough.
Update – Jan 27, 2011
I came across this excellent post by Joe Brewer of Cognitive Policy Works. It includes a video entitled “Thom Hartmann on the “Becking” of America”. I think it adds an excellent perspective on the use of violent rhetoric by the right wing and its implications for political discourse and its consequences.