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Posts Tagged ‘Jared Loughner’

http://player.vimeo.com/video/18698532

Sarah Palin: “America’s Enduring Strength” from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Sarah Palin released a video today in which she talked about the shootings in Arizona. She would like to go back and edit some of her language now that she realizes what some phrases actually mean.

“Like millions of Americans, I was learned of the tragic events that unfolded in Arizona on Saturday. I could not understand why a deranged man would try to attack those showing their peaceful right to assemble and to exchange ideas in our vibrant country. But how sadly ironic it was to see later that people were trying to apportion blame to those other than the law breaker. Dare we call this kind of talk a blood libel dirty smear?

Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own and we should not stand still while journalists and pundits manufacture a pogrom backlash against those who debate passionately. Why, the attitude among the media to patriotic right wing talk radio hosts this week was  a Holocaust an outrage. A real genocide. Real dirty pool. As Americans rallied to express their opinions in a beautiful moment of inspiring debate that so defines our country, a mad man let loose with a mindless rampage. But rather than unite together in a time of common humanity, we let the media create a Shoah horrible controversy.

It is important for us to respect our differences with each other and strive for a better country. And for us instead to point fingers at each other is a horrible final solution mistake. Ronald Reagan said that blame for monstrous acts should stop with the monster. I agree with that. Let not the vibrant debate in our country be muffled by those who would seek to tear us apart.We cannot abide by these volkisch partisan sentiments. It will end in a real Dreyfus Affair moral travesty. Or a Farhud war of words.

Sometimes political parties win and sometimes they lose, and we do no favor to the political process by acting like antisemitic silly Nazis schoolchildren prosecuting a kristallnacht pitching hissy fits. The only thing we have to fear is Judeophobia fear itself.

Thank you, and God bless America”

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The attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the death of six bystanders in yesterday’s mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona have sparked a debate about how toxic our national discourse has become. That discourse barely had time to neutralize before it turned toxic again a few hours later. Before suspect Jared Lee Loughner was even named as the suspect, left wingers took aim at the Tea Party and Sarah Palin for the gun imagery she has brought to bear (and bears) in our national debates, and her targeting of Giffords in particular. This, they say, wasn’t an isolated incident by a crazy person but the spawn of a right-wing firmament that breeds crazy in crazy nurseries.

A couple of years ago, for instance, Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly repeatedly called Kansas abortion provider George Tiller a baby killer and mentioned him some 28 times on his show. Tiller was later murdered by Scott Roeder, shot in the eye while he was inside his church. The right has since Barack Obama’s election become more ominous in its rhetoric, more martial in its imagery and apocalyptic in its pronouncements. A disempowered group of Americans in 2008 turned to millenarian fury (a sign of their fear). Thus Giffords and others had gotten threats for their support of the health care bill. People were showing up at protests during those debates brandishing guns.

And so there was an anticipation building up among liberals that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, perhaps even a dark wish that it happen to reveal the true animal spirits on the right.

So once there was news of a shooting, it seemed like a good time to immediately assail Palin’s bulls eye imagery, and the crosshairs she trained on Arizona’s Eight District in a 2010 political poster, which Giffords herself called an implied threat. Or for that matter it was worth remembering that Ann Coulter once called Bill Clinton assassination worthy. Or that Glenn Beck has joked about killing opponents and that his whole ideology is based around conspiracy theories that appeal to our country’s many lunatics.

At some point, rhetoric does indeed turn into threat, as I think it did in O’Reilly’s case. The First Amendment doesn’t cover threats. You can’t draw a line through a person’s name and smear it in blood on a poster. But it’s not like the right doesn’t know this. Instead its more clever exponents play with the contradictions. Palin and Glenn Beck do it with an edge of satire that their audience is likely aware of on some level, as obnoxious and destructive as it is to progress, as anathema as it is to people with brains. Yes it’s sad that some dummies do take it seriously (not realizing that Palin is less about policy than media whoredom or not recognizing that Beck is little more than a snake oil salesman/pitch man for gold investments). But the left uses imagery just as often, and with the arrogant vouchsafe that it’s OK for us because we’re right after all. A lot of us called George Bush a war criminal because we thought he had left at least a hundred thousand people dead in Iraq by lying about the reasons for going to war. Are there ramifications of using that language? Could it be used by a crazy person who thinks George Bush is literally a wanted criminal and who might in a deranged state somehow take action on that notion?

This is one reason I can’t blame Palin and Beck for Giffords. And that has made me a very lonely lefty this week.

Call it First Amendment fundamentalism or just sadness about how quickly the situation was exploited. Nobody on the left had the sense to wait a few hours to see who opened fire at that Safeway, and when it turned out to be a moonstruck college dropout/armed forces reject with paranoias about mind control, libs had to spin like mad when they realized they had literally jumped the gun. All of my heroes are now doing the mushy blogs about how toxic our political climate has become and trying with limp avail and flimsy proof to lay it at the feet of Palin.

Yes, Loughner used some right wing symbols about the Constitution being under attack and about the integrity of gold-backed currency. But he was mainly weaving that into a dark, solipsistic ideology all his own, barely recognizable to even NRA members. Who in the hell on the right wing has ever argued about government control of your “grammar structure”?

My heroes Keith Olbermann and Paul Krugman have taken this story with the dutiful drudgery of football players taking their positions at shirts and skins scrimmage. Krugman did not offer his usual elegant hard numbers to back up his weak contention that this was an invariable outcome of right wing hate-mongering–but just swiped at Palin in a pro forma rant,  trying to convince us she’s more to blame than people who used to call George Bush Hitler. Before 5 p.m. yesterday, conservatives already had been roused to defensive anger and were in pretty good stead to bat away the arguments that Jared Loughner’s  insanity in any way resembled their own behavior. The anti-bodies had kicked in, and there would be no reason, if I were a right-winger, to listen to the criticism. The left made a prima facie judgment and showed the right it will blame Sarah Palin for anything, even small pox, car wrecks or dog mange.

That makes her stronger, folks.

I’m a leftist, and do believe the Tea Party has created a toxic environment of anti-government panic and often destroyed sensible discourse with meaningless sloganeering. My late mother once told me that in her job as a tax preparer, she came across people who wanted to cash out of all their stock holdings at unattractive bases, take big tax hits or do other forms of financial violence to themselves just because Fox News has told them America had gone socialist. My mother’s prescription: “Fox News should be banned.” And this was a woman who had voted for Bush.

Just another example that conservative thinking is going to do real harm to many disadvantaged people (a lot of them conservatives) in the long run. They will slash necessary programs, push an anti-government agenda that forces more out-of-pocket expenses on poor people, destroy the middle class, accelerate wealth disparity, put us more in debt to the Chinese and force depressions on us if they have to. But it’s hard to prove or see that kind of insidious violence, and that makes lefties want to pin something more tangible on right wing leaders. How about a murder?

The fact is that there are lots of ways to slice the orange on this story. The most horrible is the one none of us dare bring up: We could point to the tragic irony that Giffords is a gun rights advocate and maybe ask if this is a good time to bring up the issue again in our national discourse. We could have taken aim (note the harmless metaphor) at Sarah Palin’s gun stances rather than Palin herself. Instead, we played into her hands and won her more sympathy.

Or we could have noted the irony that Giffords has not been easy to pigeonhole and she’s a good example of our less doctrinaire politicians. The sad thing is that maybe we need more of her, not one less. Our all-too-necessary political center is being attacked when it ought to be protected.

Instead, we liberals painted ourselves into a corner and made this contradictory statement: “The political atmosphere has become too toxic … and it’s the other side’s bloody fault.”

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