You might think that certain political leaders would be feeling, at the very least, chagrin this morning, waking up to the picture of Faces of Hope 9 year old Christina Taylor Green who is dead, the innocent victim of political messaging gone crazy. But if you thought that political leaders like Sarah Palin could think of how a tragedy like this impacts anyone other than themselves, you would be wrong. Christina Taylor Green is dead and the Palin camp has somehow managed to make Sarah Palin the victim, yet again.
Yesterday I published a brief news item regarding the fact that the Democratic Congresswoman who had been shot in the head along with 12 other victims, six of whom have died, was featured in Sarah Palin’s target hit list. A list not only featured on her Facebook Page but her SarahPac page as well. A list that when published received an outcry of outrage for its violent suggestions. A list that Sarah Palin not only refused to take down, but gloated over in speeches, tweets, and her Facebook Page.
Yesterday, after the tragic news of this mass shooting, Ms Palin put out a brief statement in which she offered condolences and said she was praying for Gifford’s family. Gee, that’s nice, I thought, but where’s the introspection? Where’s the accountability? No, I don’t think Sarah Palin is to blame for a crazy person shooting a Democratic representative who represented a government he thought was “treasonous”. She didn’t actually pull the trigger, after all. But she has deliberately and with malice aforethought created an atmosphere of hate, division, fear and paranoia. An atmosphere of white nationalism that according to law enforcement officials, it appears this young man embraced.
Such atmospheres are magnetic pulls for those prone to insanity. And it’s precisely for this reason that political leaders should not engage in violent rhetoric. Ms Palin knows this. Ms Palin was called out for inciting violence in Alaska. Ms Palin was called out for inciting violence against then Senator Obama, his wife and children during the 2008 campaign season. The Telegraph UK reported that the Secret Service asked her to walk it back as her rhetoric was causing an increase in death threats against the Obama family but she refused.
“The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling “terrorist” and “kill him” until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric. But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further. The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin’s attacks.”
And here is where I do hold Sarah Palin accountable for her irresponsible, selfish and cynical behavior. Ms Palin has been aware of the consequences of her words for a long time now. Ms Palin used to give out public statements as a governor that called for a “backlash” against “asinine” citizens who filed ethics complaints against her. Ms Palin has seen the death threats her rabid, unstable “fans” have issued to anyone who dared to call Ms Palin accountable, including Senator Yee of California whose only crime was to ask the university where Ms Palin was speaking to disclose what it was paying her. For this, he received heinous death threats, faxes of a noose around his neck and President Obama’s neck, and ugly, vile disgusting rhetoric dripping with gutter hate only fit for the mentally unstable. But those are Ms Palin’s bestest fans.
And for those reasons, Ms Palin is well aware of the consequences of her actions. And yet, instead of having had a re-think, Ms Palin went to bed last night feeling like she was the victim here.
A nine year old girl is dead along with five other people—people with families, people who were someone’s world – and yet Ms Palin went to sleep last night feeling sorry for herself. This is where we have a disconnect that cannot pass.
Last night the Palin camp took to the airwaves to decry the unfair treatment Ms Palin has received. The person who speaks for Ms Palin and writes for her on Facebook gave an interview with conservative radio host Tammy Bruce wherein she decried that blaming Sarah Palin for the violence yesterday was “obscene” and “appalling”. In fact, Rebecca Mansour went so far as to claim that the “target list” was not intended to allude to guns. Tammy Bruce’s website introduces the interview thusly, “Rebecca works for Governor Palin’s SarahPAC and while she joins me personally and not on behalf of the PAC, she does address the shocking effort by depraved liberals to somehow blame Governor Palin for today’s atrocity.” It’s all about Sarah. Oh, and demonizing the left as “depraved liberals” among other name calling. Way to walk back the hate talk. Listen to this at your own risk.
No, Ms Mansour, I’m afraid you haven’t the faintest notion about what is so obscene and appalling here. What is so obscene and appalling is that instead of owning up to being a part of a culture of violence (one which many politicians are a part of, one in which both sides have partaken, but one in which only one side has honed violent rhetoric to a finely sharpened tool – an act of devotion by cynical leaders for their weapon of choice, at times their only weapon) and leading this country, her fans, in a moment of crisis, Ms Palin has made it about herself.
Instead of praying on this horrible tragedy and having a come to Jesus moment wherein she faced up to her own responsibility here, Ms Palin has chosen to make this all about her. It’s not about the obscene deaths of six other people or a country of grieving Americans who are frightened to disagree with their neighbors about politics.
Recall if you will the Tennessee man whose car was rammed over his Obama bumper sticker shortly after Ms Palin urged her supporters, “That bumper sticker that maybe you’ll see on the next Subaru driving by — an Obama bumper sticker — you should stop the driver and say, “So how is that hopey, changey thing working out for ya?”" That man had his young daughter in his car when his vehicle was rammed repeatedly by an enraged driver. In court affadavits as reported by Palingates, the bumper sticker is mentioned as the reason for the road rage:
“On 3-25-10 Harry Weisiger pulled up behind Mark Duren’s Toyota Camry at a stop sign. He blew his horn at Duren to get his attention. He then began to point at Duren’s OBAMA/BIDEN bumper sticker. He then began to stick up the middle finger of both of his hands to Duren. When Duren left the stop sign, Weisiger rushed up to him and began to bump his vehicle into Duren’s Camry. Weisiger then used his Vehicle to push Duren’s Camry into a driveway located at 2539 Blair Blvd. There was proprety (sic) damage to both vehicles and Defendant left the scene without stopping.”
Instead of owning up to how she has targeted liberals and indeed all political opposition over and over again until they have to man up every morning in order to exercise their freedom of speech, the Palin camp has chosen to feel victimized. And while Mansour goes out of her way to say she’s not Ms Palin’s spokesperson, the culture of victimization that Ms Palin has been carefully tending in her hothouse of self pity until its spores invade even the most immune environments (cries of the press invading her privacy as she is shooting her reality show) has been impossible to miss these past two years. Mansour’s proliferation of outrage is pure Palin.
As for the offensive claim that the graphics weren’t intended to indicate guns, Ms Palin refuted that notion herself through various tweets and speeches. Here’s Ms Palin’s FB response to the outcry against her graphics:
“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. 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!”
(h/t Immoral Minority)
If that isn’t enough, you can google gun sight graphics. But honestly, who in their right mind would even make this argument? Ms Palin knows the power of imagery and symbols. This is how the Right has been winning the battle of fear over thought for quite some time now. This pathetic, absurd attempt to distance themselves from reality and from their own responsibility doesn’t merit any response by reasonable people.
Ms Palin and her fans have taken refuge in the fact that other politicians have made violent metaphors. This is true. However, Ms Palin is among the Hateful Gang of Four who have consistently, with deliberative purpose, and in fact without relent, cynically used the division in this country to further their own means. Ms Palin has a pattern of using violent rhetoric. Ms Palin never “retreats”, she “reloads”. Ms Palin takes offense when it’s suggested that she walk it back a tad. But more importantly, a Democratic Congresswoman suffered an assassination attempt and thus, the attempts at modern day false equivalency are barren of lucidity.
I’m hard pressed to think of a politician who has so consistently beaten the drum of violence as Ms Palin. It is, in fact, why a good many Americans did not vote for her in 2008. This is what drove them away from their base camp of the Republican Party. They could not partake in the hate. Many of them sat it out while others voted for President Obama, even though they didn’t agree with his politics.
This says good things about Americans. While we are a nation divided in many ways, while we are at a low point in history right now, in our souls, Americans are always reaching for the higher point. Americans do get pulled away from the issues and distracted by the Paris Hiltons of the world, we are greedy and prone to consumerism and self-absorbed at times. But in times of crisis, when it really matters, Americans band together and the fighting spirit of a nation of immigrants comes together to take a stand for liberty, for freedom, for equality, and for justice. We have many faults, but we have brave spirits whose hearts see past the noxious fumes of disguise and demagoguery. Americans said no to hate in 2008. And we will do so again.
Our liberty is at stake here. Our democratic process is at stake. Our freedom of speech is at stake. Because freedom of speech doesn’t just cover the haters who screech violence against their opposition and then cover their behinds after the fact in cowardice. No, freedom of speech covers you and me as well. We have a right to have our voices heard in the wilderness without feeling terrorized. And to those who continue to speak out even as they are threatened and their families threatened with violence by an out of control, extremist, angry contingency being urged on from the sidelines by yellow-bellied, morally devoid cowards, I salute you.
This isn’t about Sarah Palin, even though she thinks it is. It’s about America. This is our moment to seize the good in us and take a united stand for freedom and democracy. Don’t be cowed by the outcries of victimization by the right. We are all grown ups here, except for Christina Taylor Green, who will never be given the chance to grow up now.