Thank you Russell Pearce. Thank you Jan Brewer. Thank you John McCain. Thank you Jon Kyl. Thank you Trent Franks. Thank you Sharron Angle. Thank you Sarah Palin. You must all be so proud of yourselves today.
Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head today. She was holding a public event in Tucson, dubbed a “Congress on your Corner” event to meet with her constituents. It was a routine event, nothing special, just a Congresswoman getting out in public, doing her job, talking to the people whose interests she was elected to represent in Washington. She was there to update them on the goings on in Congress, and to listen to their concerns.
Reports at this point are very scattered. What is known is that a gunman—presumably acting alone—walked into the crowd, took aim started shooting. Congresswoman Giffords was hit in the head. At least five others are confirmed dead including at least one Giffords staffer and a federal judge, with reports of 12 or more having been hit. It is speculated that due to the rapidity number of shots fired (witnesses reported 15-20 shots having been fired) that the gunman used a semi-automatic weapon for his despicable attack. The Sherriff’s Department in Pima County has confirmed that the gunman used a handgun with an extended clip to carry extra ammunition.
Law enforcement officials have confirmed that 22 year old Jared Laughner of Arizona has been taken into custody for the attack. He was taken to the ground and held for police by bystanders who were attending the gathering. The culprit has not been identified as of yet, and no motive has been revealed. But given the political atmosphere in Arizona, the far right wing slant of today’s Arizona politics, we have a pretty good idea of his motivations.
This attack on a Democratic member of Congress was inevitable. The Republican rhetoric of the 2010 election made this a foregone conclusion. Giffords’ office had been targeted just prior to the election, having been shot at and otherwise vandalized during a highly contentious campaign against a far right wing Tea Party candidate. Giffords won by a narrow margin. Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva representing Southwestern Arizona, including Yuma, also saw his office shot at and vandalized shortly before the election. Shockingly, no Republican candidates in Arizona faced any similar threats.
This is what the Republican Party of Sarah Palin has wrought. The constant hate peddling and fear mongering. The constant drumbeats for war and violence. The advocacy of “those Second Amendment remedies” to overthrow the government. The accusations of “Socialism” and Michelle Bachmann’s “anti-American” rants; Glenn Beck’s cries that “they’re deliberately trying to DESTROY this country!”
This is what the Tea Party has brought to American political discourse. This is what Sarah Palin has brought about with her Facebook images of “liberal” Congressional candidates encircled in rifle crosshairs, and her exhortations to “Take them out!”
This is Republicanism in its most extreme, which unfortunately is becoming more the norm. It is the anti-human rights meme of Republicans and Tea Partiers (anti-gay rights, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim) and the every-man-for-himself attitude that is so pervasive among the right wingers. It is the anti-government stance that has culminated in a member of the United States Congress getting shot, and several others being killed for no reason whatsoever.
Mainstream Republicans fell all over themselves to pander to the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party during the 2010 elections, and this is the result.
Republicans may not have specifically advocated for this kind of violence. Not even Sharron Angle, who during her attempt to replace Harry Reid as a Senator from Nevada, was so fond of those “Second Amendment Remedies” would have explicitly advocated that individuals take it upon themselves to attempt an assassination of their elected officials which whom they disagree. At least I hope not. But the rhetoric and the language being used by today’s Conservatives have served to incite this kind of hatred, this kind of desperation to subvert our system of governance.
This whole gun culture that the right wing has going for it has got to take a step back and consider where they’ve brought this country. When Conservatives feel compelled to flex their muscles by strapping loaded assault rifles to their backs along with loaded handguns holstered out in the open at their side, carrying them out to public political events, it was only a matter of time before someone took the next step and sent real bullets flying through the air at such an event. This is the political world we now live in.
So thank you Republicans. Thank you for finally bringing about what we can all hope will be a turning point in our discourse. Thank you for yammering on and on about how citizenship should NOT be a right conferred on those born on American soil. Thank you for proving to the entire country what your reckless behavior and your narrow minded vitriol leads to. You were warned that this would happen, and you poo-pooed it. Thank you for finally proving that words matter. Thank you for showing us once and for all what your core constituency is all about. Thank you for dividing this country as it has never been divided in any of our lifetimes.
Thank you, Republicans. This is the America you have created.