The Arizona Shooting: When Political Rhetoric Kills
While details of today’s tragedy in Arizona continue to leak out I have a question for conservatives who are rushing to absolve their political leaders of any responsibility in fomenting this environment.
If this had been an average Iranian citizen and he had shot George W. Bush in the head would you absolve Ahmadinejad of all responsibility and blame it on some lone wolf with a mental illness?
To press this further, is it your sincerely held belief that an environment wherein people are openly encouraged to carry weapons to political town hall meetings, where Giffords’ opponent held fundraisers at shooting ranges with Giffords head as the target, and where numerous political figures explicitly used violent, eliminationist rhetoric during their campaigns had absolutely nothing at all to do with this?
The shooter is obviously mentally ill but it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Congresswoman Giffords herself has been threatened recently. Judge Roll, who was murdered in today’s shooting, was under protection in recent years because of threats concerning an immigration ruling. The Secret Service has never been busier handling threats to the President.
You don’t need to embrace violent and eliminationist rhetoric in order to advance a political cause. There has been a conscious decision on the part of some to stoke that rage for political gain. They lit a match, fanned the flames and now are feigning surprise that we’ve had an attempted assassination on a Congresswoman who was a direct target of that rhetoric for the last 2 years.
The assassin is a disturbed individual who bears ultimate responsibility for his actions today but those actions did not occur in a vacuum. They occured in a political environment which has spent the last several years celebrating the idea of violent, armed resistance.
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