In the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and the cold-blooded murders of six other innocent people, Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation issued a statement, “We didn’t intend for this to result in violence.”
Huh? How did you think it was going to end up?
Phillips went on to say, “No one should be killed for their political beliefs, but . . . there can be no civil discourse with people as crazy as those on the left are.”
Hmmm, that leaves us back with Sharron Angle’s “2nd Amendment Solution.”
While the primary target of this political assassination has survived thus far, the dead include Federal Judge John Roll, Rep. Giffords 30-year-old director of community outreach, Gabe Zimmerman, 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green and three elderly citizens. One of those, Dorwin Stoddard was heroic in shielding his wife from the gunfire. Dorothy Morris and Phyllis Schneck were enjoying their retirements and grandchildren. ALL of them are casualties of our current political culture.
Radio hosts and so-called journalists long ago began crossing the line on the indices of “decency,” “decorum,” “boundaries,” “truthfulness/truthiness,” and inflammatory calls to action. An entire sector of the media has been regularly indulging in defamation, oversimplification and confrontation for sport and ratings.
In the early 1990s, I worked at WREC-AM in Memphis as a DJ and broadcast engineer. The job description had me “running the board” for G. Gordon Liddy & Dr. Laura, after the station dispensed with the “Great Music” format to make room for them. I tolerated it because of false promises that I would get my own local talk show. But it never happened and I resigned, without making a public issue about my objection to the programming. I thought it would be a bad career move to speak out about it. Maybe I should have.
The likes of Limbaugh, Liddy, & Beck have wrongfully tried to equate a thoughtful national healthcare program with the introduction of “socialism.” These people don’t understand what socialism is. They have tried to equate universal rights for quality healthcare and education, and ending the Bush Jr tax cuts as a political Apocalypse.
It’s not a damn Apocalypse – its about getting off the path of certain destruction, which nearly took down the economy during Bush Jr’s reign. Palin, Coulter & O’Reilly have tried to make people think that the election of Obama immediately brought a radical change into American politics, and that people had their country “stolen” from them. Nothing like that has come close to happening, because the Republicans in Congress have been quixotic and invective at disrupting any possible accomplishment by Obama.
Why? Not because they’re concerned about their constituents, but because of their devotion to an ideology that nearly destroyed the American economy, when it was left unchecked under Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr.
Sharron Angle did her best to project a “New Age-Mother Earth” packaging for her messages of draconian destruction, in her failed battle to unseat Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). Angle, Michelle Bachmann and Palin are the women who scream for blood at combat-sport matches, but never had a clue about the pain. They are the southern belles who used to cheer on lynchings, and the Roman women who used to casually select the gladiators to die for their entertainment.
Angle gave us a “New Age-Mother Earth” figure issuing a passive-aggressive call to arms when she characterized political opponents as “domestic enemies,” and planted the seed of what happened to Rep Gifford by saying, “I hope we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies.” Clearly, that was passive-aggressive wishful thinking.
Such is the stock of leadership the Tea Party has chosen for America , which casually encourages less intelligent people to shoot people they disagree with.
One of my favorite TV shows from the 60’s was “I Spy” with Bill Cosby and the late Robert Culp. The show featured American TV’s first racially mixed detective team; rapid-fire, witty dialogue; great chase and fight scenes, and sometimes a sobering morality tale. In one episode Culp and Cosby find themselves virtually imprisoned in a small corrupt town, which ends with one of the bad guys shooting another bad guy, who tried to help the good guys. One of the bad guys said to Culp, “We’re sorry – we didn’t know it was going to end like this.” Culp’s reply; “Well it started out with guns, how did you THINK it was going to end up?”
Republicans by nature love guns and the NRA. They love to project images of a “healthy” firearms culture. Hence, we had Palin’s “Crosshairs” web page, which “targeted” districts held by politicians too thoughtful for the Tea Party, including Gabby Giffords in Arizona’s District 8. We had Republican Chairman Michael Steele suggesting sending Nancy Pelosi to a firing squad.
There is no longer any distinction between the “mainstream” Republican Party and the “radical fringes.” The Republicans long ago kicked out it’s “liberal” element, in order to make room for the Moral Majority in their “Big Tent.” By pandering and catering to this element ever since Reagan, they have allowed these people to define and characterize their party. The blood in Tucson is a consequence of saying what is expedient for fundraising, without regard for the “truth or consequences.”
Republican apologists have been forceful in trying to say that Jared Loughner, the shooter, was not one of them, was not inspired by their rhetoric, and was just an unstable guy with no links to politics.
“I don’t think we should rush to speculate,” said Sen. Jon Kyl(R-Ariz.). “It’s probably giving him too much credit to ascribe a coherent political philosophy to him. We just have to acknowledge that there are mentally unstable people in this country. Who knows what motivates them to do what they do? Then they commit terrible crimes like this.”
Urgent Memo to Senator Kyl: The “they” you are referencing is a “we” or an “us.” Matt Bai noted in the New York Times, “But it’s hard not to think he (the shooter) was at least partly influenced by a debate that often seems to conflate philosophical disagreement with some kind of political Armageddon.”
Bai also called out Palin for her incendiary rhetoric: “Popular spokespeople like Ms. Palin routinely drop words like “tyranny” and “socialism” when describing the president and his allies, as if blind to the idea that Americans legitimately faced with either enemy would almost certainly take up arms.”
In the quaint old radio days, there existed a Federal Communications Commission that monitored broadcasts for inflammatory or dangerous sources, and issued fines for same. Sometimes they suspended or revoked a broadcasting license of a broadcaster or even a station for engaging in behavior that has become common. The deregulation fever leading to the 1996 Telecommunications Act put an end to all that.
Keith Olbermann issued an appropriate challenge to ALL American politicians. Knock if off! He challenged Palin to “repudiate her own part in amplifying the violence and violent imagery in politics.” That could be a major step in healing this sick culture.
Why Palin? She’s been the most visible and outspoken in her reckless rhetoric, blurring the lines between gun culture and the civility in politics. Implicitly, Olbermann has challenged the Republican Party to disown and repudiate the politics and tactics of Palin, Bachmann and other reckless politicians characterized by the Tea Party.
Can it happen? Does the Republican Party have a conscience? The Ripon Society thinks so – they’re the “liberal” wing of the Republican Party, which has been underground since Reagan buried them in 1980.
Their website states that they “seek to be the conscience of the Republican Party.” If the Republican Party DOES have a conscience, now is the time to put it on display, and repossess the Republican Brand from the lunatic fringe.
H. Scott Prosterman