Gabrielle Giffords shooting: Experts say violent rhetoric promotes atmosphere of political hate
Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic Congreswoman of Arizona, was shot today in Tucson. The atmosphere of political hatred forms a backdrop for such violence.
While the specifics involving the shooting are being sorted out, the problem of verbal abuses catapults issues like the Giffords shooting into the arena we all can see.
According to the Huffington Post, the latest facts relate how Rep Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords was shot on Saturday in the head, an aide was killed and other staffers wounded or killed. Giffords is said to be in critical condition.
Condolences are pouring in from Democrats and Republicans alike. Sarah Palin is one of those offering her regrets. But experts tell us rhetoric from those like Palin set an platform where violent events may happen.
In a drive through Arizona this summer, a camp of separatists were seen meeting in a campground area, with signs advertising their event. At the same time, during the drive, the level of political animosity for President Obama and his opposition for the immigration bill was apparent everywhere and in many discussions with people met along the way. The signs along the highway and the rhetoric of discussion were filled with images of guns and violence like, “Someone ought to take them out” referencing the President and his associates.
Matt Yglesias offered this on Twitter referencing a June occasion where Giffords would be speaking. “Fun campaign event: “Help remove Gabrille Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly”
That same type of figurative language was used by Sarah Palin, in her imagery of guns and targets and those in the scope of political opposition. Facebook was used for her posts at the time. During the 2008 election the language was ramped up with imagery that Palin, according to the Christian Science Monitor refused to retract. The love of the gun in America was played on as she said she would be among those to fire “the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington.”
On the tragedy in Arizona in Arizona, by Sarah Palin, came this on Saturday following the shooting:
“My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.
On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families and for peace and justice.” But as Anchorage Daily News pointed out, many people have considered Palin’s rhetoric dangerous. The newspaper observes, “RELOAD!” Sarah Palin shouted at right-wing supporters,” referencing Palin’s words on Twitter following President Obama’s signing the House health care bill. On her Facebook page, she posted a U.S. map with crosshair targets in states where she’s planning to campaign against moderate Democrats who voted in favor of the health insurance overhaul.
Read more: http://www.adn.com/2010/03/24/1197471/palins-firearms-themed-rhetoric.html#ixzz1AZmXgUYJ
Hannah Arendt’s treatise on violence was examined by Jeffrey Feldman of Alternet who said this about the growth of dangerous language used to create an atmosphere of hate. “First, I realized that the use of violent language was not accidental, but was the product of a shift in the political philosophy on which the right-wing punditry built their ideas. The shift was from a rhetoric of parody and burlesque to one of violence and accusation. Second, Arendt helped me to clarify exactly what role “violence” was playing in the worldview of the right-wing pundits.”
Feldman underlined what was said during the 2008 campaign about the ramp up of violent rhetoric being used by the right. Echoing the concerns expressed by the Southern Leadership Conference, was this statement from Tony Steward, “I think [Palin and other conservative leaders] have a very, very serious responsibility to measure their words carefully.” Stewart, who has worked to free Idaho of its reputation as a magnet for white supremacists. “
Some conservatives in the face of the changes brought by the Obama administration echo the words of a conservative blogger:
“I sincerely pray that we are not on the cusp of some group of angry and now unhinged mob lashing out at congressmen …,” writes conservative blogger Erick Erickson at RedState.com. “But … I don’t think the Democrats should at all be surprised. They were and they knew they were playing with fire to advance legislation many Americans see as the undoing of the American Experiment.”
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Christian Science Monitor
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Anchorage Daily News
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