Rep. Gabrielle Giffords: The Triumph of Violent Rhetoric from the Right in America

For years now the Right Wing in America has ramped up the violent rhetoric, lacing speeches and political ads and Tweets with references to guns and acts of violence as being justified to stop their political opponents. Right wing blogs regularly host comment threads that drip with promises of violent action with guns against opponents on the Left. Right Wing talk radio in America is a daily threat fest, filling the air waves of America with rhetoric inciting the true believers to hatred and violence.

Well, congratulations, Republicans. You got what you asked for on January 8, 2011, down in Arizona.

A young man entered a meeting with constituents hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), pulled out a gun, and proceeded to shoot, at latest count, 19 people. Six of those people are dead. Among them a nine year old girl interested in politics, who, ironically, is reported to have been born on 9/11/2001. Also among the dead is U.S. District Judge John Roll, who over the past couple of years had received so many threats of violence against him that he had at one point had to have 24 hour protection for several weeks.

In the hours after the shooting, Rep. Giffords was reported to be in critical condition with a gunshot to the head.

Sarah Palin and the rabid Republican right must be feeling really satisfied about now, since their threats of violence as a solution have now found fertile ground in the probably disturbed mind of a young man, Jared Lee Loughner. Their campaign is showing success.

But I am sure, like Rumsfield during the decent into the hell of the debacle in Iraq, the Republicans will now be on the air hourly chanting “Who could have foreseen” that if we suggest that our followers and supporters shoot our opponents, they might actually do so!

Sarah Palin has blood on her hands for this. Rep. Giffords was featured in Palin’s infamous graphic, which, strangely enough, after having been up for some time on her web pages, disappeared within hours after the shooting.

Here is the graphic. It speaks for itself.

This image had been hosted by Sarah Palin on her web site at That URL fails now. It has apparently been removed.

And who can forget Palin’s famous Tweet?

And then, of course, last June, during the Congressional campaign, Giffords’ opponent held a rally designed to appeal to her supporters:

And of course who can not have been inspired by Sarah Palin’s memorable exhortation to her true believers?

To the teams that desire making it this far next year: Gear up! In the battle, set your sights on next season’s targets! From the shot across the bow – the first second’s tip-off – your leaders will be in the enemy’s crosshairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics. You won’t win only playing defense, so get on offense! The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons – your Big Guns – to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win.

This message really hit the target for one admirer of Palin, who responded as follows:

Sarah Palin Facebook on Targeting Liberals: Shoot With Accuracy; Aim High

Man this is the best politically correct message she has ever written. The metaphors are right on target and the message is simple for the average ten year old hunter to decipher. I cant wait for the lib responses tommorrow or tonight as this will surely create a firestorm. Palin is on a role right now.

And it is not just Palin who has been using language inciting to violence, or excusing violence by supporters of the Republicans and the Right.

Back in April 2005, GOP Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) stood on the floor of the Senate, and pretty much said violence against judges was understandable. The following quotes Cornyn, with commentary by John Aravosis.

At 5PM today on the Senate floor, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) gave an astounding account of the recent spate of violence against judges, suggesting that the crimes could be attributed to the fact that judges are “unaccountable” to the public. Sources on the Hill went and pulled the transcript of what Cornyn said, and it read:

SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: “I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that’s been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in – engage in violence.” [Senate Floor, 4/4/05]

We now have Republican Senators making excuses for terrorists. Explaining why terrorism is understandable. Why terrorists have legitimate concerns. Justifying why the victims of terrorism are really to blame for these heinous crimes. Wonder what Senator Cornyn thinks of rape victims?

This is utterly outrageous. Outrageous. The GOP is now embracing domestic terrorists who are trying to undermine our democracy. And they’re doing it so they can take down the judges who “killed” Terri Schiavo, and instead impose some Pat Robertson-like theocracy on our country. This is absolutely utterly beyond contempt.

GOP Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) says violence against judges is understandable

One of the things that disgusts me most about all of this is how the Right Wing and their lackeys in the mainstream media will immediately start spouting the usual mantra of false equivalencies. They will piously stare into the camera and declare that there is just too much of this on both sides of the political spectrum, suggesting that there is just as much overt reference to violence against one’s opponents on the left as there is on the right.

This is of course, a patent lie. The pathetic thing about our current national discourse is that these declarations will not be challenged with any demand of specific examples or proof. The usual talking heads in the media, and the usual criminals in Congress, will just nod their heads in sad agreement.

On the other hand, I suppose we can be grateful for good thing for America to come out of this, although at a terrible and horrible cost.

I simply cannot imagine Sarah Palin running for President now. Ever. The crosshairs ad, and her inflammatory rhetoric, will never disappear from the Internet, and will become the centerpiece of any campaign opponent’s advertising.

Palin will understand the term “backfire”, I suspect, and is probably giving it some thought right now, as a nation mourns what is just one more sad and tragic step away from decency and sanity in our political discourse into a landscape of irrational rhetoric that leads to hatred and violence.

In the video below, Rep. Giffords herself, responding to the threats of violence during the health care debate, appealed to reason, pointing out that if you engage in this sort of overheated rhetoric, “There’s got to be consequences”. Check the 2:10 mark in the video. Giffords discusses the heated rhetoric:

For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action…

What is even more telling, listen to the immediate response of the man next to the news anchor: “In fairness, campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric have been interchangeable for years.” He goes to lengths to suggest there is nothing wrong with threats of violence like this.

Is America ready to accept that? Not just the rhetoric of war, but the bullets, too?

Twenty-four hours after the shootings, and the explosion of condemnation of the crosshairs graphic on the Internet, the Palin camp responds.

An aide to Sarah Palin claims the crosshairs depicted in her now-infamous target list of Democrats were not actually gun-sights, and that it’s “obscene” and “appalling” to blame Palin for the shooting.

“We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights. It was simply cross-hairs like you’d see on maps,” said Rebecca Mansour on the Tammy Bruce radio show. Moreover, there was “nothing irresponsible” about the image, and to draw a line connecting Palin and Saturday’s shooting is “obscene” and “appalling.”

Palin Aide: Crosshairs On Target List Not Actually Gun Sights

Of course, Palin, in a Tweet, herself referred to the images on the graphic as “bullseyes” after the recent election, crowing over the fact that the Republicans had won so many of the seats and Representatives that were targeted.

One has to ask how stupid Palin and the Republicans think Americans must be to believe such a patent falsehood.

Very stupid, I guess. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that the assumption of ignorance and stupidity on the part of their supporters is a key element in the strategy of the modern Republican party, which has been taken over by the most radical elements and thinking of the Right Wing in America.


Author: Ron