Tag Archives: Giffords

Palin Video: Do We Feel Your Pain?

I find myself in an odd situation that I don’t often find myself in.

I substantially agree with Sarah Palin. She released a video statement today, in which she makes some very strong and valid points:

Political discourse is not to blame for the act of one deranged young man.

Trying to limit speech by law is a terrible idea.

Kudos, Sarah. We have some points we share. As you stated in your own video, in this country, we have elections to reflect the will of the people.

However, those are elections which you should never win if people watch your video and reflect on it. Yikes. While I agree with several of Palin’s main points, she also manages (surprise) to say things that ought not to have been said, and avoid saying things that needed saying. There are serious—dare I say crazy? I dare—flaws in what Sarah stated, too. What are those flaws?

She needs to own up to the language of violence she has used in the past. She’s criticizing the media for being critical of her, and she has a completely valid point in terms of cause and effect related to the shootings. But she totally ignores valid criticism of her past rhetorical tone. She is refusing to acknowledge that her own previous statements were, at best, tasteless in the light of the tragedy. If she wants a higher plane of discourse, owning up to her part in that lowered discourse would be a nice first step that she completely failed to take.

“Blood libel?” Sarah displays what appears to be an odd lack of historical sense, although I don’t believe her handlers are so ignorant that they didn’t know what they were doing. “Blood libel” is a reference to an anti-Semitic lie, that Jews drink the blood of Christian children, and particularly offensive since Rep. Giffords is Jewish. Sarah, you’re not the victim of a “blood libel.” The cynic in me thinks the line was thrown in to stir up Jewish passions so that you can pose as the victim of those “others” once again, but you’re no victim here. Giffords and the dead and other wounded are.

All right, I will own up to going a bit far in my previous blog post—although I wrote that post to blast you Sarah, for your previous rhetoric while carefully (I hope) not claiming you were to blame for the Arizona shootings. Still, there is an extreme line in that heat of the moment post that I wish now I had phrased differently. I called you “loony,” a pretty low, derogatory term. Such strong hyperbole is not political discourse at the highest plane.

But then again—“blood libel?” Man. Mama Grizzly is too smart to be crazy, but she can sure talk crazy.

Some links to commentary of Mrs. Palin’s video from Newsweek and The Washington Post.


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The Second Amendment and Little Christina

A 9-year-old girl named Christina will never live to be 10, shot dead for no reason other than she went with a neighbor to see the local Congresswomen’s constituent meeting one morning in Tuscon.

Six people are dead, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is fighting for her life with a bullet-dug tunnel through her brain, and a federal judge (appointed by a Republican president) is among the fatalities.

Yuck. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding Christina’s death particularly cruel, but the whole affair is sickening. Six lives snuffed out and many more injured in an eruption of unspeakable horror.

Once again, the bullets fly in America.

Iowa recently loosened its gun laws, and local sheriffs are required to issue permits for citizens to carry guns. The disturbed young man (a failed college student, something of no comfort to a college professor) who aimed his semiautomatic pistol at the head of an elected official had 20-round clips of ammo for said weapon—a bit excessive for personal defense against a lone criminal, one would think.

And Rep. Gifford’s support of the Second Amendment didn’t seem to do her much good when suddenly faced with a lone lunatic with a weapon. So much for an armed populace discouraging crime.


Sarah Palin Facebook image

From March 2010, Palin's infamous "gun sights" graphic on her Facebook page. Sure, "target" is an OK political term, but using rifle sight images, calling on supporters to "reload" and talking about firing a "salvo?" Ms. Palin's use of language is often vague and confusing, but her odd use of violent words and symbolism is disturbing, especially after the Jan. 8 shooting in Arizona.

The shooting also spotlights some recent extreme political rhetoric, particularly from the loony former mayor of Wasilla. Sarah Palin went way too far in her political bloviating last year when she used images of gunsights to target Representatives (including Giffords) who voted for Obama’s healthcare bill (see graphic from her Facebook page). Palin’s extremist rhetoric included calling on her supporters to “re-load” and talking of firing a “salvo.”

Sarah ought to be ashamed.

But, let’s not take that point too far. The rhetoric and reality of violence is no stranger to either end of the political spectrum.

Whatever else is true, let us Americans agree on this—as long as we have the vote, we have no business threatening or raising arms against our own governments “of the people, by the people.” The attack on Rep. Gifford was a shot fired at our democracy—the democracy that belongs to all of us, Sarah and I, Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Tea Party members, Greens, etc.

It’s OK for the political debate to get loud and rancorous. It’s OK for a bit of shouting. It’s OK, even, for some extreme talk.

But the buck has to stop before the buckshot flies. And before anybody, left or right, suggests that buckshot or guns or violence is the solution to a public policy question. The government isn’t an invading force we must oppose, it’s us. Our democracy might not be as functional as I would like or as responsive as it should be, but it is ours.

The U.S. government is the world’s oldest working democratic republic. That is true largely because we have a silent compact with each other. The losers in elections will bide their time and try again in two years. We settled the argument some 145 years ago about whether the union can be dissolved by the states (it cannot), and since then have had no reasonable excuse for taking up arms against ourselves.

Even civil disobedience, justified when a young black woman sits in the wrong seat of a bus to highlight injustice, is, when it is ethical and effective, not violent.

What about our right to bear arms? I think the founders wrote the Second Amendment with a militia in mind. I don’t think Jared Loughner was carrying a minuteman rifle as a member of the Arizona National Guard. I don’t think the Second Amendment means that Iowa sheriff’s should be compelled to issue gun permits and I don’t think it means that reasonable limits on guns ought to be outright rejected.

Anyway, I hope we learn to exclude violence for our political discourse. Hear me, Sarah? But I also hope we get over the whole “guns don’t kill” attitude.

Yes, it took a nut named Jared, but it also took a gun, and a 20-round clip, too. Guns sure do maim and kill.

One irony of the Giffords shooting is that she was a gun rights supporter. May she recover, may friends and family comfort those who have lost loved ones.

And may we not have to lose many more Christinas before we can have a rational talk about guns and gun laws in this troubled country.

Jan. 10 note: “New York Times” editorial this morning sums up my feelings well.  I am not suggesting Sarah caused the Tuscon tragedy, but, on the other hand, I don’t think it’s OK to ignore the role that her rhetoric has had in poisoning our political atmosphere.


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