Monday, January 10, 2011

The Republic Is Stronger Than Guns

We were getting ready for a house full of company this past Saturday, I had been checking in on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day just to keep in touch and distract myself from the cleaning and organizing. It had been an hour or two since I last checked in, I was completely unprepared for what I read this on my friend Hillary’s Facebook page “Gabrielle Gifford, the Democratic congresswoman apparently shot today, is on this list, her district in crosshairs, and she then linked to an article about Sarah Palin targeting Ms. Gifford in the last election. I had never heard of Gabrielle Gifford so I was a little confused as to what my friend was referring to. I clicked over to a news site and gasped, I switched to another site just to confirm and it was true. A member of the United States House of Representatives, the people’s house, was shot at point blank range in the head by someone while talking to her constituents outside a neighborhood grocery store. Not only was she shot but by final count 19 others were shot and 6 in total were dead including a Federal Judge, a congressional staffer and a 9 year old girl who just happened to be born on 9/11/01.

Once I read a little about Congresswoman Gifford and the Sarah Palin rifle scope targeting of her I thought that my worst fears had come true, the thing that I dared not say out loud had happened. After the birthers, the angry and nearly violent town hall meetings, the gun toting to Presidential visits, the spitting on black Congressmen, the cutting the gas and power lines of a Congressman’s brothers house, the lies, the name calling, the calling for Second Amendment solutions to electoral failure, the calls for spilled blood and the hatred of all things government. I thought it happened, some crazed and exorcised person decided that all those shouts on the radio, all the misrepresentations and half truths spewed by Fox and all the lock and load talk had finally set someone over the edge. But, I still hoped I was wrong and that the shooting would just turn out to be some random act of a crazy person.

My Twitter timeline did not react with the same reserve that I was trying to show. My tweeps went there. Within minutes Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck were wholly responsible for the heinous act of terrorism. Calls were made for Sarah Palin to be arrested as an accomplice to murder. Beck and cohorts were called traitors and there were calls for eye for an eye.

It would have been easy to jump in and I did comment that the Sarah, Glenn and the oft married junky radio top talker have certainly played a part in stoking the fires of the right wing anger but I don’t think that there was enough information yet to lay this at their door step. The glove did not fit so we had to acquit. We had just learned the killer’s name and things were still very much in flux. I was still hoping that this was just a random act of crazy. We have since found out that it was not. This young man is unstable and a danger to society and it was not a random act, he had been stalking the Congresswoman for over 2 years.

Over the weekend the left kept up the drumbeat attacking right wing hate speech and that message was gaining a foothold. Today the right wing radio set tried to strike back but I think they have lost this battle for the last word. Their words have been no less bitter, no less full of violent innuendo and no less full of anger and blame than it was Friday afternoon. They refused to even acknowledge that Sarah Palin’s website post with the rifle sites were rifle sites. Whether this sick young man had a clear political philosophy will be learned throughout the process of bringing him to trial but right now I think we all just need to lay off the politics for awhile and mourn. We need to all pull back from the edge (myself included) and try to find a way back to a more civil discourse and debate.

Let us not delude ourselves the political discourse has never been reserved or all that civil. In fact it has been worse and gun violence has always played its part. We are nation born of revolution and we have had people use guns throughout our history. Two of our founders had a duel that ended with Aaron Burr killing Alexander Hamilton, a southern Congressman broke into the Senate chamber and pistol whipped a Senator. We have had 4 Presidents assassinated; Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy. Both Presidents Roosevelt were shot at as were Truman and Ford who was shot at twice during his short term. Presidential candidates Robert Kennedy and George Wallace were victims of gun violence and civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were gunned down as were countless other high profile public leaders. In 1954 Puerto Rican separatists invaded the halls of congress and opened fire. Through all of these years and all through all these leaders’ violent deaths the change the assassin tried bring about never occurred. Shooting our leaders is not the answer to our problems and yet there are those who hide behind the protection of the second amendment and continue to try and will continue to fail.

Sorry Sarah, Sharon and Glenn lock and load does not work voting does.

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