On Saturday, January 8th, the country witnessed a tragic and horrific act of violence. Six innocent individuals were killed at a shopping center in Tucson, Arizona – Christina-Taylor Green (only 9 years old), Judge John Roll (age 63; chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Arizona who was named to the bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1991), Dorothy “Dot” Morris (age 76; a retired secretary), Phyllis Schneck (age 79; homemaker), Dorwan Stoddard (age 76; retired construction worker), and Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman (age 30, community outreach director for Rep. Giffords). Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the target of the shooting, was shot through the head at point-blank range and is thankfully expected to survive. Within hours of the shooting, Sheriff Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik addressed the media for the first time saying that “vitriolic political rhetoric” heard on the radio and TV caused the killer, Jared Loughner, to go on his bloody killing spree that also left 14 wounded. “When the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates, and to try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it has impact on people, especially those who are unbalanced personalities,” he said.
In his official capacity as a Pima County sheriff, Dupnik had no authority to speculate as to the cause of Loughner’s acts. He had, of course, no facts … and no proof. And he readily admitted this.
It is amazing how politicians never cease to talk out of both sides of their mouths. Just over a week ago, on January 6th, the day the 112th Congress was sworn in, we heard Nancy Pelosi and members of Congress pledge to unify and work together for the good of the American people. But only two days later, on January 8th, as soon as news of the shooting reached political ears, Dick Durbin was out there blaming Sarah Palin and the Tea Party folks. And every left-of-center group has continued to use the Arizona shooting incident to divide the nation once again along political lines. For example, following the shootings, the NY Times wrote “It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.” ¹
And Keith Olbermann made this comment on his MSNBC show on Jan. 8: “If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bulls-eye targets on 20 representatives, including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part – however tangential – in amplifying violence and violent imagery in American politics, she must be dismissed from politics. She must be repudiated by the members of her own party. And if they fail to do so, each one of them must be judged to have silently defended this tactic that today proved so awfully foretelling.”
When it comes to politics, it sounds like they are taking their cue from Rahm Emanuel’s playbook – “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
I, and apparently a growing majority of Americans, are getting more frustrated each day over comments by the news and others that it’s because of the tensions caused by the Tea Party movement and by people like Sarah Palin that Jared Lee Loughner went to the shopping center that afternoon to shoot Congresswoman Giffords. I think the left has sunk to a new low.
I think those that hide under the protections of freedom of the press should take the time to research before they report and comment. I think that politicians who have sworn to uphold the Constitution should reflect upon the true meaning of freedom of speech, which is this: the freedom to have a free and robust political discussion where all ideas make it into the marketplace of ideas where they are able to compete. It is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas. The “marketplace of ideas” is just like any other free market model – ideas and viewpoints compete against each other in theory, truth, and rationality and the best ideas will prevail.
A cursory look at Loughner would show anyone that he has no allegiance whatsoever to the values that America stands on. He has spent years challenging both conservative principles and religion alike. He praises books like Brave New World, the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf and worships a shrine built of a human skull in the back of his yard. He had been arrested several times for making threats against others at the local college, he made students and teachers uncomfortable, he was registered politically as an Independent, he smoked dope regularly, and he blogged about the government performing “mind control.” I hardly see where the likes of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party caused him to become deranged. Sounds like he was already there. It looks as though he took his inspiration from Columbine and the rampant violence promoted on TV, movies, and in computer games rather than the peaceful marches on Washington. Furthermore, to say the Constitutionally-minded, Christian-loving group, the Tea Party, is creating a dangerous climate in this country which is leading to increased violence is simply irresponsible. If he were to suddenly start going to church and reading the Bible, then I could understand the Tea Party being to blame, but not the senseless violence he committed. What about all those years of Bush-bashing? How many times did we hear death threats against Bush (prompted by the hateful and malicious sentiments of the left)? How about the Liberal online journal that called for the death of Sarah Palin? ² Has no one taken the time to listen to a rally headed by the Reverend Al Sharpton? What about the new Black Panthers? They certainly don’t foster the Kumbaya sentiment, do they? To them, politics means confrontation.
Sheriff Dupnik himself polarized the political climate in Pima County more than any group could do. He publicly announced that Arizona’s new immigration policy was outright “racist.” He also publicly commented that the Tea Party “brings out the worst in America.” Who is really fueling tempers here ? Who is really fueling hatred and bigotry?
Barack Obama is also no stranger to confrontation. On May 4, in a public forum, he called Tea Party activists “tea baggers,” a horribly derogatory term which is associated with oral sex. Everyone knows that Tea Party activists loath the term “tea baggers,” and in fact, most members consider it so offensive that they regard it as the rough equivalent of calling an African American the “N word.” As Fellowshipofminds.wordpress wrote: “Barack Obama repeatedly sprinkled his political campaigning with words more appropriate to a street thug than the President of the United States.” In June 2008, during his campaign, he was asked how he would counter Republican attacks. He answered: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Then in September, he said: “I want you to go out and talk to your neighbors. . . . I want you to argue with them, get in their faces.” ³ I could be wrong, but those lines sound like they could have easily come out of Robert DeNiro’s mouth in the movie The Untouchables where he played the notorious mobster Al Capone. Not exactly words of respect and understanding. Not exactly the “toned down rhetoric” that Democrats and liberals are now all of a sudden calling for.
In fact, Fellowshipofminds.wordpress lists many instances of frenzied vitriol by the left that leaves one with a new appreciation for the word “hypocrite.” In fact, if a member of the Tea Party were to ever issue such public comments, the party itself would openly condemn them before the court of public opinion could even weigh in. The list is quite impressive (for a mobster):
(1) Keith Halloran, a New Hampshire Democratic candidate, wrote on a Facebook thread that he wished Palin had been aboard the Alaska plane that crashed, killing five including Sen. Ted Stevens.
(2) Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, columnist for the Washington Post, wrote: “I know how the ‘tea party’ people feel.. the anger, venom and bile that many of them showed during the recent House vote on health care reform. I know because I want to spit on them, take one of their ‘Obama Plan White Slavery’ signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads.”
(3) In December 2009 during the health care debate, Paul Krugman of the New York Times wrote, “A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy.”
(4) After 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, President Bush suddenly became as unpopular as Bill O’Reilly with most women of The View. The left really came into their own at this time. In fact, the sentiment was so pervasive that it was given a name – the “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Michael Moore was infected with it and so were other celebrities. A movie (TV docudrama), “Death of a President,” was made about the fictional assassination of President Bush and allowed to be shown on American TV. As one commentator wrote: “We’ve seen from early in his presidency the extremes that the political Left are willing to go to vilify him. This takes this vilification to a new and disturbing level.”
(5) In 2006, as contempt for President Bush continued to build, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi introduced Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) at a commencement ceremony at NYC’s Queen’s College as “the man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, who will put a bullet between the President’s eyes if he could get away with it.” New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said Thursday that a fellow New York Democrat would “put a bullet between the president’s eyes if he could get away with it.”
(6) Michael Feingold of the Village Voice wrote: “Republicans don’t believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don’t give a hoot about human beings, either can’t or won’t. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.”
(7) Liberal talk radio host Mike Malloy suggested someone should hang Internet king Matt Drudge, writing, “Drudge? Aw, Drudge, somebody ought to wrap a strong Republican entrail around his neck and hoist him up about 6 feet in the air and watch him bounce.”
(8) Greenpeace advocated mass civil disobedience last April (2010) with this blog item on its website: “The proper channels have failed. It’s time for mass civil disobedience to cut off the financial oxygen from denial and skepticism. . . . If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically elected governments into submission, then hear this: We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.”
(9) In June 2010, Nathan Tabor, a business owner, head of the Forsyth County Republican Party, Tea Party activist, and a former candidate for public office assembled with 25 others to peacefully protest government bailouts in front of Rep. Mel Watt’s (D-NC) Greensboro, NC office. Soon thereafter, a man walked around the corner and intentionally walked into the middle of the crowd saying ‘It’s all George W. Bush’s fault. It’s all Dick Cheney’s fault.” The man then pushed Tabor several times, to which Tabor did not retaliate. Then the man pushed Tabor’s wife. When Mr. Tabor told him to keep his hands off his wife, the man punched Tabor in the face. This happened right in front of Mr. Tabor’s young daughter. I watched the footage.
(10) In August 2009, members of the Service Employees International Union beat up Kenneth Gladney for distributing “Don’t Tread On Me” flags at a Missouri town hall meeting. 4
Judge John Roll, the federal judge who was killed by Loughner, drew sharp political criticism in 2009 — and several death threats — when he ruled on a pre-trial motion in favor of illegal immigrants in a civil case involving an Arizona rancher. At the time, the threats, online and otherwise, were significant and persistent enough to warrant full protective status from the U.S. Marshal’s Service for Roll and his family. Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva had to close his office because of so many death threats from racist callers over his opposition to the state’s immigration bill, S.B.1070. Congresswoman Giffords herself had the glass door to her office shattered right after she voted for the healthcare bill. And then there was the bullet that was shot through the window of Eric Cantor’s Richmond office.
The fact is that there is a lot of tension and frustration in this country simply as a result of the recent action and policies themselves of our government. The government’s position on immigration, as exemplified by the threat to Judge Roll’s life, alone is a great source of tension. Although there is an immigration policy, the government refuses to enforce it. Furthermore, the government has spent a year showing blatant disregard for the wishes of the American people. Power is vested in Czars who run the country at the whim of the President and the people have no power to do anything about that… yet. Just as frustration built up in this country after President Bush took the country to war in Iraq and that frustration led to violent outbursts and aggressive confrontations in cities all over the nation, those who have taken the nation down a similar unpopular path can’t cry innocence when tensions again come to a boil. It’s the spirit that gave birth to our independence and that has managed to keep the pendulum always closer to center rather than to either extreme of left or right.
Doug Rufino wrote an article to the local Greenville, NC paper, The Daily Reflector, in which he criticized those who blame the Tea Party for the shootings in Tucson. He wrote: “The recent change in the Washington landscape is not due to preachers of hate. Our Constitutional right to vote did that. You insult the American people throughout this country that elected the historic new Congress. Maybe you are still wondering how this happened. Look no further than to Americans who decided that government was getting increasingly out of control. It was our Founders who instructed us to be wary of government, not Beck and Rush. Our very Declaration of Independence tells us “…..Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”…
Robust political debate and engagement is the ultimate display of patriotism and democracy. After all, democracy is the first leg of our republicanism. But it is only a “leg” Our nation was set up as a republic by our Founders for one basic reason – to prevent mob rule… to prevent those types of outcomes that result from a hot-headed majority which might unreasonably burden the minority. Robust political debate is what helps us make sure we send the best representatives possible to conduct the nation’s business.
Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party – they are the embodiment of patriotism (devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty). They have never advocated for anything other than the peaceful return to the values that our country was founded on. Anyone who has taken the time to attend a Tea Party rally can attest to that.
In speaking about patriotism, Adlai Stevenson wrote: “When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.” He also wrote: “America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact – the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.”
While others are so willing to sell out our Founders for notions that history has proven corrupt and destructive, the Tea Party echoes those words of Carrie Latet: “May I never wake up from the American dream!”
You can love your country, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a good American. You can love your country, but if you open your mouth to squash someone else’s right to speak freely and honestly, you are not a good American. If you use an occasion like the shooting in Tucson to demand further restrictions and regulations over fundamental liberties, you are not a good American.
We should always abhor violence – especially when it targets the innocent. But a “good” American will not try to use an occasion like this – one of random violence – to change the political climate in this country. After all, it was a political climate like this that led a group of Bostonians in the middle of the night on Dec. 16, 1773 to dump the tea on board British ships into the Boston Harbor to prevent it from being unloaded on shore and hence being taxed so that Colonists would be forced to support the King without representation in Parliament. “No taxation without representation” was one of the cries which led to our independence. It was a political climate like this that led to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. And it was a political climate like that that led to the civil rights of African-Americans. Whenever there is a tense political climate, there are critical issues facing the American people. It may not be your particular issue at stake this time, but next time it might be. Robust discourse often creates a charged environment but here in America, we welcome it rather than try to suppress it. That is what being a “good” American is. That is what America stands for. But using guns rather than words and trying to persuade by acts of violence rather than persuasive dialogue is the sign of a civilized nation like the United States. No decent human being supports violence for political gain.
The fact is that Jared Lee Loughner is a social misfit who no doubt sought to vault his stature by associating himself with mass murder and immense personal sadness. It was the ultimate cry for personal attention. He harbored malice in his heart for Congresswoman Giffords. [He met her once in 2007 and called her “stupid and unintelligent.” He was also angered when she refused to acknowledge a question he submitted to her]. We’ve seen his type throughout history – Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley Jr., David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), and Charles Manson. Loughner is not mentally unstable. We know he meticulously planned his actions. The sad realization is that due to political correctness in this nation and the persistent attitude that we shouldn’t make any single person feel uncomfortable, even though Jared Loughner posed a likely threat and fit the profile of a lone looney likely to do something bad (no one seemed surprised that he carried out the killings), no one sought to get him the help he needed. It would have been inconsistent with our current climate of compassion and aversion to profiling for people to have tried to intervene and prevent that final chip in his brain from flipping. And now Christina Green, a 9-yr-old girl who brought joy to those who loved her and who hadn’t even lived long enough to have a first kiss, is dead. Now a federal judge, a young, newly-engaged civil servant, and 3 grandparents are dead. Families are left to grieve and wonder what they ever did to deserve to suffer such senseless slaughter. And a Congresswoman is left bandaged in a hospital wondering if she can ever recover from all the scars – physically, emotionally, and socially.
Ronald Reagan, himself a victim of a lone deranged sociopath (John Hinckley Jr.) once said: “We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his [or her] actions.”
So enough of the mudslinging and name-calling; enough of the meritless accusations. Why don’t we leave the name-calling to those who at least can be excused for it – our children. Running a country requires adults.
References: 1 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/opinion/10mon1.html?