Every so often, a news item comes along that makes me seriously consider hauling ass and leaving the country for good. Recent haul ass triggers have been the economy, the bailouts and the pop culture emergence of Snooki. But this latest shooting in Arizona (and how tragic that shootings are so common in the States, each one of them can be referred to as “the latest”) breaks my heart in two.
A kid in Tucson goes on a shooting rampage with the goal of assassinating Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic congresswoman who, among other things, supported Obama’s health care bill. The kid shoots her in the head at close range and kills six other people, including a federal judge and a “miracle child” born on September 11, 2001. This, following months of death threats received by leading members of the Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi and her family were threatened over the health care bill, and last summer, some California dude got into a shootout with highway patrol officers because he wanted to start a revolution by killing ACLU members.
Have people become so mistrustful, so alienated from their government and life itself, so friggin’ nuts that murder becomes a viable option for voicing dissent? At first, the message for politicians who leaned to the left was that they could lose elections. Now, they could lose their lives. I worry how effective this message will be.
Of course, all fingers are pointing to Sarah Palin, who until the assassination attempt, had a map on one of her websites indicating all the congress folk she wanted defeated in the midterm elections. But she didn’t use check marks, or say, stick figures to mark the states in which her opponents reside. She used rifle targets…in crosshairs.
Certainly, Ass Hat Palin can’t be blamed for the shooting. But when you know a good portion of your supporters are card carrying members of the NRA, wouldn’t you consider it a tad irresponsible to use lock-and-load language to appeal to them? As Illinois Senator Richard Durbin said, “the phrase ‘don’t retreat, reload,’ putting crosshairs on congressional districts as targets, these sorts of things…invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response.”
I love the United States. Whenever I hear The Star Spangled Banner I get all weepy, unless Steven Tyler or Roseanne Arnold are singing it. Because I’m a patriot in the way conservatives think we lefties could never be – I believe in those cutesy pie principles the country was founded on. Y’know, the whole “everyone is welcome, everyone gets a chance, every idea can be heard and every belief recognized” thing.
The meanies on the right used to ruffle my feathers, but now I’m genuinely worried they’re successfully destroying us. Through policy, through hateful though scarily powerful rhetoric, through stirring their constituency into a frenzy and letting the chips fall where they may.
Candlelight vigils are being held to show support for Ms. Giffords, her family and all the victims of the shooting. If I lived in Arizona, I’d be holding a lit candle alongside my compatriots and would send a whisper up to God or whatever else is listening, to help them all pull through. But I would also send up a hearty prayer that we get ourselves out of this unbelievable mess. And soon.
[Photos from BackLinkBot.com and GlobalGrind.com]