Count on this: over the next few days, you will see and hear the right wing desperately scramble to distance themselves from the violence today in Arizona.
Don’t let them.
It does not matter whether the perpetrator of these acts had a political motive – that is utterly irrelevant (although early evidence does suggest that there was some Tea Party-like philosophy/Libertarian political aspect to the shooter, it is, at this point, somewhat obscure).
What is relevant is that since the election of President Obama, the Republican Party, including elected government officials of the United States, has tolerated, and in some cases encouraged and generated, violent imagery and rhetoric as a legitimate means of political expression.
So, these GOP leaders and elected officials should not be surprised when citizens resort to violence against Democrats and Progressives.
(more on the flip)
Here are some more examples:
Sarah Palin: “Don’t retreat … Reload.
Sarah Palin infamously used target symbols to identify those Democratic members of Congress she wanted to defeat in 2010. Gabriella Giffords was one who was designated with a rifle sight.
Giffords opponent Jesse Kelly actually held an event in June that was advertised as follows: “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.
Here is Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharon Angle talking about the 2nd Amendment:
And that’s not even to mention our own Cathrine “bullet box” Crabill.
I am not saying there is a direct cause and effect here. I am not saying that any responsible Republican or Conservative actually advocates specific violent acts like this.
But the GOP, which has used and benefited from the use of violent rhetoric over the past two years, in explaining and furthering their political goals, and in reaching out to their supporters, ought to take a hard look at themselves and decide whether, in some manner and to some degree, they don’t bear some responsibility for the political culture in which an act like this would take place.