Four days ago, a lone gunman opened fire at a political event in Tucson, Arizona. By the time he was subdued, nineteen people had been wounded, six of them fatally. One of those who died was a nine year-old girl who was born on the day of the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001.
In the first official news conference after the shooting, Pima county sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, mentioned the vitriolic language in use in today’s political arena. While the sheriff did single out any person or groups for that language, members of the political right immediately responded and accused him of blaming them for the violence.
While it is true that both sides of the political spectrum use hyperbolic language, some observers, including me, found that instantaneous defensive response quite telling. The most honest response I saw to justify this response was written in a comment on a right-leaning blog. A comment was made about the defensiveness exhibited on the right to the sheriff’s statement. The response from a member of the right was, “Everyone knows who he meant.” This was tacit admission that the worst rhetoric is from the right.
As I have already stated, both sides are guilty of using over-the-top rhetoric and are guilty of demonizing their opponents. However, as I stated in a comment on this blog yesterday –
Taken in isolation (2.00 / 3)
most comments are not that incendiary. For instance, the use of crosshairs on a map could simply be a way to show those districts are targeted for extra get out the vote and fundraising efforts. But when those crosshairs are used in a political environment where there are frequent calls for 2nd Amendment solutions, watering of the tree of liberty with blood, and talk of secession then they become something else entirely. When politicians loudly proclaim their supporters are “real Americans” and their opponents are “America-hating traitors” and then place crosshairs on maps then it becomes a problem. When leading voices of a political party say the president of the United States hates America and Americans and calls for their followers to “take back our country” then we have a problem.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” – Sinclair Lewis
by: John Allen @ Tue Jan 11, 2011 at 19:44:51 PM EST
There are no calls on the left for 2nd Amendment solutions. There are no leaders on the left accusing their political opponents of hating their own country. There are no calls on the left for violent revolution or secession. This type of commentary comes from only one side in politics.
But enough about who is more guilty of stirring the pot. What I want to draw attention to is not the nastiness about the debate. Rather, I want to discuss to interesting very revealing statements made recently by Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, and the video statement just released by Sarah Palin.
In an interview conducted after the shootings, Roger Ailes said:
“I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.
We looked at the Internet and the first thing we found in 2007, the Democrat Party had a targeted map with targets on it for the Palin district,” Mr. Ailes said. “These maps have been used for for years that I know of. I have two pictures of myself with a bull’s-eye on my head.”
I applaud Mr. Ailes for being so forthright and honest at such a difficult time. He has finally admitted that Fox News is not “Fair and Balanced”. He has, without qualification, stated that Fox News is firmly on one side of the political spectrum with these words, “I hope the other side does that.”
Ailes went even further in the next part of that statement and clearly associated Fox News with the GOP and the right by his use of the words “Democrat Party.” That’s what the country needs at a time like this, a man big enough to drop any pretense and to clear up any misperceptions they have been hiding behind.
Roger Ailes wasn’t the only influential figure on the right to step forward and admit that words matter.
Potential GOP presidential candidate and Tea Party favorite, Sarah Palin, spoke out in a video that was released on Wednesday morning. In that video, Ms Palin stated –
“Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
Everyone in this country should express gratitude for ex-Governor Palin’s assertation that words can incite hatred and violence. Bravo, Ms Palin!
It is gratifying to see that this country has political and media leaders who are willing to condemn incendiary language. I encourage others on the right to follow their lead. Here’s looking at you, Rush and Glenn.