By Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D.
Germantown, MD ((January 17, 2011)) – We live in dangerous times when tempers seem near boiling and patience a thing of the past. Technology has changed the American dialogue. Because we know of problems instantly, we expect answers immediately.
When we don’t get them, we let everyone know our predicament. We scream and shout, level accusations, e.g. death panels, prison camps, Obama is not American, without providing any proof. Inflammatory words are used with no thought of consequences.
All’s fair if it makes the point. Some make great profit by just fanning the flames. Violence becomes part of our argument. This is an attack on all Americans and our way of life. It was bound to happen sooner or later. As Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik put it, “the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. Unfortunately AZ has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”
There are many possible sources to blame for the partisan rancor that led to the shooting.
The Second Amendment (abused by those obsessed with guns, led by the NRA and US Supreme Court for allowing easy access to gun ownership). Others on the left have taken it upon themselves to politicize the event by trying to paint it as an argument for stronger gun-control laws. The Tea Party’s right to free speech and its second amendment remedies have now irrevocably encroached upon “We the People’s” basic human rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The rights of hate mongers are null and void. We must all stand together to demand they cease and desist. We must boycott any retailer who continues to display their hate literature. We never boycott any public place or office which airs the broadcast of hate radio or hate TV. We must boycott the networks and/or individual stations (NewsCorp, parent company of Fox News) which promote and spread the venom.
Secondly, Sarah Palin’s online poster of members of Congress she targeted for political attack and placed in literal crosshairs. Sarah Palin has gun sight on certain vulnerable races as proof she was somehow baiting loons like this apparent assassin to go ahead and shoot political opponents.
Sarah Palin, the Ayatollah of hate and divisiveness and her call for violence if you fail to get what you want the first time around, has found herself in the crosshairs of the ensuing political debate with opponents suggesting that she may have fueled the gunman’s rage. Crosshairs is a political phrase that emerged from Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC that targeted congressional districts by the Tea Party campaign in the last election including the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was targeted for defeat. She referred to the crosshairs as a “bull’s eye.” SP is now the reluctant focus of crosshairs, after a respite of 2 years. She is now right back in the center of political discourse and discussion.
Rep. Gaby Giffords was no stranger to danger or threats. Though she managed to be victorious in her 3rd race in the district which includes Tombstone and the OK Coral, it had been rife with contentions like anti-immigrant overblown language; anti-Obamacare dominated the debate. Some windows in her Tucson congressional offices were knocked out shortly after she voted in favor of BHO’s healthcare reform. She had no security during her Safeway meet-and-greet forum. She is a conservative Democrat in a conservative state who was the target of heated rhetoric. SP’s condolence to Rep. Giffords was not well-received by people who disliked her rhetoric, for calling on her supporters to “take aim” at opponents and refer to the elections as “salvos.”
Third, anybody who referred to any public official as Hitler, Nazi or fascist. Anyone who watched a John Wayne movie knows what “patriotic” (bully) Americans are supposed to do to Hitler, Nazis or fascists. People like SP and Markos Moulitsos Zuniga (founder of Daily Kos) are political firebrands that stoke the flames of the insane culture war that is causing so much damage to the country. Both political parties and Pres. Obama himself were guilty of such rhetoric. He said in January and June of last year that if his “opponent brings a knife, we will bring a gun.”
Liberals made a movie of GWB being shot and killed. They wore shirts with Bush in the crosshairs and said it was their right in law to do it. Blaming Republicans or Democrats or Mexico is just wrong. We need to be together in this and quit being so angry with others. Let’s bury the dead, comfort the wounded and the families left behind and stop making it worse by attacking people we don’t agree with.
Fourth, shouting hard constantly raised the level of rhetorical fury. All the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public is by people who make a living off doing that, e.g., foot soldiers of insurance companies opposed to healthcare law, of corporations opposed to government regulations, of bailed-out banks against government’s official order to limit the size of salary and bonus of senior officials, inter alia. SP may be more aggressive in her language than some other politicians, but she is hardly the only person to use martial rhetoric or imagery in the heat of a political campaign. Such talk is common on both sides and calls for restraint and a change in discourse are getting louder.
This is one of the worst sets of domestic terrorism in American history. Put it in proper perspective: if Saturday was an average day, about 100 people were killed in car wrecks on American roads. Will what happened in AZ forever change the relationship between the members of the House and their constituents? Or, will there be close contact? Surely, politics is getting close to, if it’s not already there, war when you hear or read such things used as “take aim,” “magic bullet,” “target list,” “in their sights,” among others.
Jared Lee Loughner lived in a middle-class neighborhood, lined with desert landscaping and palm trees with his family in a small house in a part of Tucson quite different from the opulent Tucson. The building needs renovating; the landscaping is overgrown. It’s a blue-collar, multi-ethnic neighborhood. The property has a sign that discourages solicitors. Neighbors say they keep to themselves, but weren’t exactly unfriendly. They have a passion for classic cars that they worked on and restored. Neighbors said Loughner kept to himself and was often seen walking with his dog almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.
Arizona has some of the most permissive gun laws in America. Some college faculty and students may carry concealed weapons. You can go on a shopping spree from store to store on the argument being that carrying weapons enhances security. It is reminiscent of Archie Bunker at the height of the airline hijacking in the late 1970s that if you wanted to prevent one, arm all passengers. Now firearms and the ability to use them are employed to make political points. Pamela Gorman, a Tea Party congressional hopeful said prominently in her campaign message that she was a good shot. Is that a qualification in running for public office?
There is always a rainbow at the end of a storm. There were many heroes who distinguished themselves at these shootings: Daniel Hernandez, an intern working for Rep. Giffords who was on the job a week and saved her life, using his high-school training in emergency medicine to slow the bleeding. Bill Badger is a retired Army Colonel who grabbed the gunman by his throat and prevented more carnage. Joe Zamudio had his knee right on the gunman’s neck to stop him from hurting more people. Patricia Muisch got hold of the magazine before the gunman could use it to reload.
Of the 19 killed or injured, were Federal Judge John Roll who was a devout Catholic who went to daily mass; Gabe Zimmerman who was Gaby’s director for community outreach; Dewan Stoddle, a church volunteer; Christian Taylor Green was the youngest of those who lost their lives and was the target at her funeral by the Westboro Baptist Church which publicly proclaims in their Web site their hatred for Catholics; Phyllis Schnock (79) and Dorothy Morris (76) were both retirees. Take greed for the NRA fighting the ban on assault weapons; total access to “hate sites” on the Internet; political campaigning that demonizes the opponent; and untreated mental illness, and voila’ we have chaos, tragedy and mayhem.
Comedian Frank Conniff tweeted, “Hey Sarah Palin, how’s that hatey, killy, reloady, crosshairy thing working out for ya?” Many people on social network of Facebook are asking whether SP is to blame. Last year she posted on her Facebook page that map of 20 congressional districts targeted by SarahPAC that “it’s time to take a stand.”
Giffords rebuked that crosshair picture and statement that “when people do that they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.” SP didn’t get it because that is language beyond her level of comprehension. As a matter of fact, SP was shamelessly proud of her call to arms (don’t retreat – reload) for her followers, some of whom are mentally unbalanced and plain crazy.