Monday, January 10, 2011

Reckless lips, guns and consequences

We all knew it had to happen. It was, after all, just a matter or time. Of course I am referring to the tragedy in Tucson over the weekend.

And so we have to ask, is any of this surprising?

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford was doing a typical "meet and greet" with her constituents, she was shot by a 22-year old lone gunman (actually, that fact remains a point of question right now). The gunman, Jared Loughner was tackled by bystanders, but not until after 31 shots in all had been fired, leaving six people dead including a nine year old girl who was there because of her interest in politics.

His actions sent a chill down the political scene nationwide.

For every politician who goes out of his or her way to meet their voters in town halls, at shopping centers, their concerns about safety were suddenly brought to the forefront.

The most important question remains why did this happen? I posit that, in part, this tragedy occurred because of the hate-filled airwaves of talk radio and Fox News; because of the rantings of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and others. And if the vitriolic rantings of media pundits were not bad enough, we have seen some of our politicians, our elected leaders acting no better.

When, during the 2008 presidential campaign, someone yelled out to Sarah Palin "kill him (referring to candidate Obama)!" Did candidate Palin chastise this person? No, of course not. Her inaction only served to fan the flames.

More recently Palin and her aides played the role of advocate for candidates, many from the Tea Party. Her SarahPac organization used one catchy jingo-istic ad campaign calling for candidates and voters alike to "Stand Up, Don't Retreat, Reload!"

Palin and her aides can claim all they want that the "Reload" campaign was not using rifle sights, but we all know better. If it wasn't, why did they hastily remove it from the web? Was she slapped down by the GOP? Hardly.

A Palin aide says the poster was supposed to have been removed after the 2010 election, but due to some oversight it had not been pulled.

Yeah. Right. The ad was pulled only because one of the names on her target list had been targeted.

Let's examine the landscape coming from the far right of recent years . When our political leaders spout outlandish remarks, one has to wonder why no one from the GOP has called them on the carpet. I am increasingly angered by the GOP when the party remain silent enmasse after their own party members use reckless language and campaign tactics that either overtly or covertly advocate violence and intimidation. Where are they?

I'll tell you where... they are sitting with their hands over their ears, their eyes and their mouths... not to mention their hearts.

Of course, Ms. Palin offered her sympathies to the Gifford family. BUT seriously, just stating one's sympathies for the victims is not enough. We all can do that... the difference is, some of us really mean it.

When associates do or say something stupid, slowly backing away, disassociating one's self from the them or the their crowd inconspicuously is not bravery, saying nothing is not bravery. Taking a stand against them is.

When candidate Sharron Angle said if we don't get our way we might have to use "second amendment remedies." Did the GOP chastise her? No.

When Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann said "I want people armed and dangerous over the Obama Health Care plan," was she put down? No. In fact, the GOP recently threw her a bone, naming her as their representative for the House Intelligence Committee (if there was ever an oxymoron, this is it).

When former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joked about President Obama getting shot, did the GOP chastise him? No.

When Congressman John Boehner said (after the Health Care Reform vote) “Take Rep. Steve Driehaus, for example,” he says. “He may be a dead man. He can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati. The Catholics will run him out of town.” Was he repudiated by his fellow GOP? No. In fact, he became majority leader. In essence, he was rewarded.

When Texas (naturally) Senator John Cornyn said violence against judges is understandable. Was he slapped down by his fellow GOP? Of course not.

Were any of them? If they were, it certainly was done out of sight with no public admonishments. I've heard the apologists claiming the Democrats were doing the same. Perhaps, but I doubt it.


Show me one Democrat or left leaning politician who has ordered their followers to show up at a political rally packing a gun or baseball bat. Show me one. Show me a liberal who has told his or her constituents that it's time to take to the streets with guns, utilizing our God given right to bear arms. Show me a Democrat who has called out for Americans to run a politician out of town because they disagree with the party line. Show me one. I dare you.

All the people who say we cannot blame the right for these acts of violence seem to forget that when our elected officials make speeches using incendiary language, they are virtually giving permission to the loose cannons in our society to act out as we saw this past weekend.

It's time for the vitriolic remarks to stop.