The Language of Violence

[you can run but you can’t hide]

Sarah Palin takes aim

Sarah Palin fully understands gun imagery and language.

I had hoped that my comment yesterday about how Sarah Palin obviously saw the linkage between her hate speech and the attempted assassination of Rep Gifford and associated killings would have been the last on this subject.  I have no desire to turn this blog into a full-out political platform.  Nevertheless, I am very disturbed by the reaction of many of leaders today as they backpedal and spin the incident – and in doing so, deny the reality of their actions and the consequences of them.

You may remember that during 2009, people would show up armed to town hall meetings.  Why?  They would claim something about “god given rights.”  The reality, of course, was to intimidate opposing viewpoints.

Did major political leaders of the GOP come out emphatically against this type of behavior?

No, they did not.  In fact, they encouraged it:

I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.  —  Minnesota Rep Michele Bachmann, March, 2009 (listen to audio here)

And this rhetoric continued to essentially define the 2010 election:

I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.  – Sharron Angle, GOP Senate Candidate for Nevada, June, 2010 (listen to audio here)

These are just some obvious examples.  A few leaders did speak out.  Ironically, one of them was Rep Giffords — whose offices were vandalized in March 2010.  In her interview, Rep Giffords explicitly talks about how it’s dangerous and inflammatory to use crosshairs in political ads.

In response, Sarah Palin went even more extreme, claiming in a tweet:  “Don’t Retreat, Instead — RELOAD!”

Sarah Palin - Don't Retreat Instead Reload tweet

Sarah Palin encourages violent reaction in political discourse.

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s a post from her Facebook page of March 28, 2010:

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.

Focus on the goal and fight for it. If the gate is closed, go over the fence. If the fence is too high, pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, parachute in. If the other side tries to push back, your attitude should be “go for it.” Get in their faces and argue with them. (Sound familiar?!) Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!  [all emphasis is Palin’s]

Could the message from Sarah Palin be made any simpler, even without Palin’s own highlighting of key words?  None of these people quoted here are pundits, they are politicians.  This is the language they have decided to use to gain political power.

The language of violence.

Now, of course, with her public image in jeopardy, Sarah Palin is backpedaling.  First, she removed her website page as I mentioned yesterday.  Now her aids are claiming that those markings weren’t crosshairs after all.  Aside for violating any common sense, that the webpage was taken down, and her own Facebook rhetoric, Palin, herself, talked about that ad containing bullseyes in November 2010:

Sarah Palin - Crosshairs are bullseyes

Sarah Palin tweets that those markings are definitely gun imagery.

There are now pleas that “everyone” needs to tone down the rhetoric.   I would like to be shown where responsible politicians in the Democratic Party have used the GOP’s  same continual rhetorical tone of graphic violence to gain political advantage.

The GOP is disingenuous here.  They are the only ones who need to “tone it down” because only they have raised the volume.

They are fully aware who is at fault for creating this toxic atmosphere since some GOP politicians are now claiming that the shooter wasn’t one of them.  It matters not what affiliation the shooter was (though he was obsessed with typical Tea Party issues such as gold standards, new world order, Ayn Rand, and the like).  What matters is that the tragedy at that Tuscon supermarket was inevitable when there was an accepted atmosphere of violence.  And this atmosphere was promoted by the Tea Party and encouraged by at least some of the GOP.

Again, it is clear:  If there aren’t obvious lines connecting dots, what exactly are these GOP officials trying to distance themselves from?

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One thought on “The Language of Violence

  1. Well Done. The internet is fragmenting American society. There is no longer a single national political agenda. The days of our entire nation riveted to Walter Cronkite covering president Kennedy’s assassination and the Apollo 11 moon landing is long gone. Fast forward 40 or 50 years to 2011, and each of us gets our daily news from a different source, at a different time, and through a different medium. The influence of anchormen like Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw is waning.

    They say that the cure for “bad speech” , is more “good speech”, rather than censorship. So the cure for violent political rhetoric should be debates about nonviolent democratic solutions, which are alternatives to violence. But how can this delicate balance be struck if people are not listening?

    We choose the news we use, and lose the rest. In the race to be better informed, we are losing societal cohesion. In this environment, the cure for “bad speech”, hate speech or even violent rhetoric is lost. The only alternative is responsible self censorship from our leaders, and from the talking heads (journalists and bloggers alike).

    The shooting of Congresswoman Giffords should be a wake-up call for everyone. He who incites violence could become a victim too.

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