GOP embrace of violent rhetoric: A chicken coming home to roost


    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.

    • just seems to be crazy, as far as I can tell, so I’m not sure it’s possible to draw any broader conclusions from it regarding political ideology or much else. As for the broader issue of right-wing rhetoric (and yes, it’s almost ALL right wing these days), such as Sarah Palin’s use of “crosshairs” and violent language like “reload,” that’s utterly despicable and could certainly result in violence from unstable people. As Mo Elleithee said on Politico, this type of rhetoric needs to stop. Period.

    • Cool_Arrow

      I don’t believe that members of the GOP are willingly wishing on things like this to happen. They want people to get angry and vote the Democrats out of office. However, some people take things way too far obviously. This is incredibly sad for America and the country that we love.

      I remembered Cantor’s statement about the Democrats using threats of violence against them for political gain. Who can forget the “shooting” at his office.


      Seems like a pretty stuipd thing that he said now in retrospect.  

    • My husband and I were watching a documentary on the Weather Underground the other day.  What struck us was how similar the rhetoric the rhetoric that groups like the SDS were using to the Tea Party rhetoric today.  And of course, there were some who took that rhetoric too far, and many liberal groups are still paying for those sins today.  (Think of how much the William Ayers controversy took up during the 2008 campaign, although Obama would have been a child while this was going on.)

      It’s just some friendly advice, but I think that Republicans should decry this sort of behaviour with every fiber of their being.  I wish that more liberals had in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.  (I still think it was wrong that Patty Hearst was pardoned, so my tolerance of extremists in general is pretty low.)  Even if it could somehow be proven that this particular person had NO, even the most minimal contact with any Tea Party/Right wing group, the first thing many of us thought (including Republicans, if my FB feed was any indication) is that this might be connected with the Tea Party.  That’s bad for honest Republicans, and that’s bad for America.

    • “…I’d just like to say, 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, and unfortunately Arizona I think has become sort of the capital, we have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry…this individual may have a mental issue, and I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol…”

    • aznew

      It is the GOP/Conservative community snd support network, including many Conservative bloggers.

      Here, for example, are the thoughts of one well known Consrvative blogger, some dipshit named Erik Erikson at

      At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

      I mean, if I remember correctly, even CNN offered this guy a job at one point.

      Now, you might wonder what would set someone off to think this way. I mean, it must be some pretty bad shit the government is doing for someone to approvingly suggest it might cause an individual to take a government official outside and “beat him to a bloody pulp.”

      Well, look, Erik had good reason to feel this way. After all, he was reacting to a state regulation on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution.

      I am not kidding.

      Now, I am not talking about some out-there extremist here, but one of the more powerful and influential people in the Conservative Netroots here. And I am not talking about something some idiot posted as a comment to a site he runs, but something he, himself, said.

      Until Conservatives drum sick fucks like this out of the ranks of their leaders, their entire movement will be tainted.

    • Teddy Goodson

      While I, too, am appalled at the violence, I am not aurprised at either its occurence nor by where it occured (having graduated from the University of Arizona which, even in that long-ago day had its share of wild-eyed misfits and self-righteous anti-Washington nuts). Once the shock wears off, I also have no doubt that we will have taken another step toward the use of political violence, and we will see it being used again, perhaps more subtly, but more deliberately.

      Already I have heard some co-ed quoted that claimed to have seen the shooter at school/somewhere, saying he had “left political leanings”… There will undoubtedly be more attempts to make the depravity be a result of “the left,” linking anti-government sentiment to the left, and not ever, not at all, anything to do with the patriotic, justifiably angry right. And I also predict that the left will react defensively, making every effort to be responsible, in order not to inflame the discussion— the left will  pretend that “both sides” have crazies.

      Does anyone think we will see on mass media quotes and videos clips of the right-wing’s violent rhetoric? No, we will be told the shooter was unstable, crazy, that conservatives are all condemning the action, and distancing themselves. Privately, the right will rub their hands with glee, saying “the lefties got what they deserve,” and “maybe this will make the Obama cultists more cautious,” and “this should keep the lefties from showing themselves in public,” and—- most probable of all, they will be planning on replacing the Congresswoman with a Tea Party Republican (like her recent opponent in the election), and the murdered judge with a more amenable right-wing judge. Never let a crisis go to waste, you know.        

    • Is Sarah Palin going to explain to  Congresswoman Gifford’s children that when she “targeted” their mother, she didn’t expect someone to actually shoot her at point blank range in the back of the head?

      Is Sarah Palin going to use her millions from Fox to pay for Rep. Giffords’ care as she struggles with her disabilities?

      While Palin is at it, will she “man up” and personally apologize to the parents of the dead child for her inflammatory rhetoric?

      And what about the “warrior”, Jesse Kelly, who manned up and offered to let people fire am M-16 on full auto  at targets of Cong. Giffords? Will he be man enough to apologize to her husband?

      Will we have to watch Boehner get all weepy over this?  Will

      Republicans denounce the Tea Party and those who embrace violence?

      No matter how you cut it.  

      The Republicans and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party own this.  

      Like the old saying goes, “You lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”  

      They made their bed and now its on fire.  

    • kenban

      The video is blocking half the text how do you guys read?