|Map from Sarah Palin's PAC with cross-hairs over the districts of Rep. Giffords and other Democrats who voted for health care reform|
I mean, people don't -- they really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things, 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 gunsight over our district. When people do that, they've gotta realize there's consequences to that action.-- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 3/2010It is too early to tell what motivated the shooting of Rep. Giffords and 18 others, but the increasingly inflammatory rhetoric and violent imagery from the right was bound to land somewhere. Republicans have demonized the President and others who oppose their political and social world view, and have called, perhaps metaphorically, for their demise in offensively graphic terms. Tragically and predictably, not everyone understands it as metaphor.
Getting the most attention, and rightly so, is Sarah Palin's map and her call to "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: Don't retreat, Instead -- RELOAD!" But, as Ezra Klein points out, there are countless examples from Republican politicians threatening violent reprisals, including: Sharron Angle, warning that "if Congress keeps it up, people may find themselves resorting to Second Amendment remedies;" Rep. Michele Bachmann saying she wanted Minnesotans "armed and dangerous" in opposition to cap-and-trade; and Jesse Kelly, who ran against Giffords in 2010, holding a gun-themed fundraiser. The pitch read: "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office, shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly." Republican leaders did absolutely nothing to rein in the lunatics within their ranks, who undoubtedly served the Party well in energizing their base in the last election.
One hopes the mainstream media will call out the Republicans for their singularly reprehensible conduct rather than simplistically resort to their default position, blaming both parties for their uncivil behavior and ferreting out some obscure and isolated example of some left winger's hysterical rant to counterbalance the incessantly overheated rhetoric of the right. One also hopes that Republicans will do some soul searching, take moral responsibility for yesterday's tragedy, and finally tone down all the crazy talk. Without the first, it is unlikely that the Republicans will be shamed to do the second, and sadly, neither seems likely.
[Related posts: Restoring Whose Sanity?; Restoring Whose Sanity? Redux]