Ed’s note: This is the second of two opposing views of yesterday, January 8, 2011, shooting in Arizona.
By Motecuzoma Sanchez
Like most of our nation, I was appalled to hear of the massacre in Tucson, Arizona which included six people killed and 12 others shot. Among those killed were a federal judge, a nine year old girl recently elected to her school student council, and a campaign manager for Democratic Congresswoman Gifford, who was the primary target and first to be shot-point blank in the head.
What I was not was surprised. Arizona has become —in the words of Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnick— “the Mecca of hate”. From racist laws like SB 1070 to the attack and ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona has become the epicenter of repression and backwards ideology.
I was also not surprised to learn that the assailant is described as mentally unstable with anti federal government sentiments. The heart of Tea Party, aka Republican Party, activity is fueled by such individuals. Individuals who have shown up to Presidential rallies with semi-automatic weapons proudly displayed along with flags of Don’t Tread on Me, hijacked public townhall meetings with angry outbursts and threats, and attacked Democrat offices with gunfire during the debate for National Health Care. Congresswoman Gifford was among those whose office was shot at and vandalized for voting for, what has been demonized by the pied pipers of hate as, ObamaCare.
Such individuals have been instigated and encouraged by hatemongers who prey on fear and poverty and spread ignorance while profiting from such endeavors with books, TV shows, and speaking engagements- all while cowardly remaining safe from afar. Safe from critical scrutiny, safe from the poverty they prey upon, safe from the responsibility of their rhetoric, and safe from the bullets that took so many lives in Arizona.
In the aftermath of this massacre we will hear those cowards attempt to deflect responsibility for their hateful and dangerous rhetoric by calling for calm and unity and mutual understanding. While I agree there should be calm, there can be neither unity nor understanding for why Sarah Palin had a virtual hit list on her website with rifle crosshairs over the names of members of Congress including Rep Gifford. A grim graphic that Rep Gifford herself complained of and cautioned against. While the “momma grizzly” of the Tea Party and therefore Republican Party, was encouraging her supporters to stand with her, keeping a running count of the “targets” with those eliminated being colored red as if to imply a kill; radio and TV personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Riley, and Glenn Beck have been reinforcing that danger with hatred, lies, and confusion.
President Obama has been demonized as a “threat” to America along with the rest of the Democrats of his Party by the same people who defended President Bush for taking our nation to a fruitless war under false pretenses and admitted to sanctioning torture. Since the election the Republican Party has put all of their efforts into obstructing the progress that the country voted for, and they have put their full support behind these harpies of hate.
In the last election Republican Senate candidate Sharon Angle was openly advocating for violence in the event her party did not win the election, calling for the Second Amendment (Right to Bear Arms) “remedy”. Sarah Palin’s advocacy of Republicans losing elections not to retreat but to “reload”, did not earn her admonishment from her Party, it earned her invitations to speak at Party functions, book deals, and TV shows for her and her talentless daughter.
This rhetoric was sanctioned by the Republican Party who benefitted during the last election winning many seats in the House, which was accredited to the fervor of the Tea Party and its pundits. One of their first acts, after recently gaining control of the House, was to vote on repealing Health Care, despite knowing it would not pass the Senate and would be vetoed by the President. In the wake of the Arizona massacre they have opted to longer take that vote; a recognition of guilt.
So it is no surprise that cowards who hide behind Internet connections and TV screens will attempt to deflect attention away from their very active and dangerous rhetoric. And there are those, weak of heart and clouded of mind, who will call for a forgetful unity and understanding. I clearly say now is not the time to forget, but to hold those who have profited from dangerous rhetoric, violent instigation, and ignorant hate to be scrutinized by our entire nation and be held accountable for their irresponsible vitriol. Christina Taylor Greene, the nine year old girl tragically killed, who was ironically born on September 11, 2001, deserves as much.
It is the best way to move forward and heal. Poison can’t be ignored or swept in the dark as it will always remain a threat to the civility of our Democracy and society. Accountability is the key to stability not holding hands with our heads in the sand while predators are in the midst. As Rep Gabrielle Giffords said in a foretelling interview,
“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”.
Patrick Motecuzoma Sanchez is an Iraq War veteran, a Stocktonm CA. Civil Rights activist, and past Mayor of Stockton candidate.