It may be a uniquely American inability or unwillingness — or both — to realize how everything is connected.
So many are screaming that politics have had nothing whatsoever to do with Saturday’s shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others, including a girl who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and who had shown an interest in a life in politics.*
I read at least one (right-wing, if memory serves) commentator claim that accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s act was “random.” (Which, if true, of course lets the right wing entirely off the hook.)
Maybe the Lotto is random, maybe atoms bounce around more or less at random, but human beings don’t act entirely randomly. They might be mentally disordered, as Loughner certainly seems to be, but do they act “randomly”? No. Inanimate objects can act randomly, but human beings do not. Human beings act within and respond to social contexts, even if their mental processes are disordered.
I never have claimed that Loughner was directly “inspired” by Sarah Palin-Quayle’s rhetoric of assassination, but, as I have noted, if he didn’t see or read Palin-Quayle’s assassination rhetoric, perhaps he saw Giffords’ Repugnican Tea Party opponent’s advertisement for a June fundraiser that read, “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly.”**
Perhaps Jesse Kelly saw Palin-Quayle’s March 2010 assassination rhetoric and followed her lead for his June 2010 fundraiser — Palin-Quayle is, after all, the Borg queen of the Repugnican Tea Party — and perhaps Loughner saw Kelly’s Palin-Quayle-inspired assassination rhetoric if he didn’t actually see Palin-Quayle’s.
If so, we still can draw a line back to Palin-Quayle.
We don’t know yet how all of the dots connect, and it’s possible that we never really will, but just as it’s too early to directly blame anyone, it’s too early to absolve anyone whose assassination rhetoric might have inspired Loughner.
A Washington Post columnist makes an interesting argument that the cause of Giffords’ shooting is not politics, but is too-lax gun control.
While I agree that too-lax gun control certainly was a factor in Saturday’s massacre in Tucson, apparently in the widespread fervor to be “bipartisan” and to avoid pissing off the right wing (who do, after all, like to pack heat), the columnist seems to ignore or to at least miss the fact that the members of the National Rifle Association and other assorted gun nuts support the Repugnican Tea Party, not the Democratic Party or the progressive or liberal cause.
The Repugnican Tea Party itself encourages gun violence under the guise of “Second Amendment rights.” (Indeed, in the atmosphere of Repugnican Tea Party rhetoric in which Loughner acted [the available evidence suggests that Loughner has not been living in a cave, by the way], Second Amendment rights have morphed into “Second Amendment remedies.”)
To assert, as the Washington Post columnist essentially asserts, that too-lax gun control is disconnected from politics (or even to assert that it is a “bipartisan” problem) is insane (if we define “insane” as “detached from reality”).
Way too many Americans right now are demonstrating not only their inability and/or their stubborn refusal to connect the fucking dots, but they’re also displaying their penchant for false equivalencies, which demonstrates their moral turpitude or their utter inability to reason (or both). Under the soothing umbrella of false equivalencies, everyone is guilty or no one is guilty — therefore, there is no need to actually do the work of sorting through the facts.
False-equivalency-loving pundits still are referring to assassination rhetoric as “war” or “military” rhetoric (or the like), when, in fact, rhetoric about shooting or otherwise killing a specific individual (usually, but not always, a political figure) is nothing else but assassination rhetoric.
I have not seen a single Democratic or other left-leaning candidate for political office employ assassination rhetoric. Repugnican Tea Party candidates, however, have. (Right off the top of my head, I can name three of them: Sarah Palin-Quayle, Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly. [And Repugnican Tea Party princess Michele Bachmann has advised her followers to be “armed and dangerous.”])
And false-equivalency-loving pundits still are stupidly comparing such remarks as President Barack Obama’s remark that if the opposition brings a knife to the political fight, then you bring a gun, to Palin-Quayle’s listing of 20 Democratic lawmakers whose congressional districts she indicated on a map with gun-sight crosshairs while simultaneously advising her followers not to “retreat” but to “RELOAD!”
These are not equivalent. Obama never suggested or even hinted that certain, specific individuals actually be shot. Sarah Palin-Quayle did.
I fear for the American empire, because its denizens are either too morally bankrupt or intellectually disabled (or both) to be able to connect the dots, and because they compare apples to blood oranges.
An empire can survive with a certain percentage of its inhabitants being immoral and/or incredibly stupid, but the United States of America apparently has reached a critical mass of immorality and stupidity that imminently threatens its survival.
Pundits aside, most Americans don’t actually think the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was caused by inflammatory political rhetoric, CBS News reports.
Of 673 people polled on the issue, 57 percent said political discourse had nothing to do with the shooting, while 32 percent said it did. In a reflection of the opinion war being waged between liberal and conservative political figures, fewer Republicans (19 percent) felt the shooting was related to rhetoric than did Democrats (42 percent).
Well, again, it remains to be seen, if it ever is seen at all, to what degree inflammatory political rhetoric played a role in Saturday’s massacre, doesn’t it?
And it’s hardly a shock that apparently only one in five Repugnicans believes that there’s any problem whatsoever with the assassination rhetoric of the likes of Sarah Palin-Quayle, Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly. And it’s a testament to the cancers of “bipartisanship” and centrism that so few self-identified Democrats are willing or are able to make the apparent connection between assassination rhetoric and an actual assassination attempt.
**I just checked out Kelly’s website, and the only thing on the home page of his website is this statement:
In the wake of this stunning tragedy, my prayers are with Rep. Giffords, her husband Mark and the rest of her family. May God’s strength comfort her as we pray together for her recovery. We mourn for those who lost their lives in this horrible act.
Senseless acts of violence such as this have absolutely no place in American politics.
Kelly used the shooting of “a fully automatic M15” with him as part of his campaign, but now (like Sarah Palin-Quayle does) he denounces violence!
How politically, morally and ethically convenient!