Arizona shooting tells us nothing… and everything
(Note: Apologies to subscribers that received a notification of a three year old post on the 2008 election. Notification was due to an error on my part after referencing it below. Sorry. – Mugsy)
The shooting of
19 20 people during a public appearance of Arizona Congresswoman Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by a mentally unbalanced 22 year old kid (who, as per my policy, shall go nameless here) last Saturday has everybody in the Media wondering what “political” motivation might of been behind the shooting rampage that left six people dead, including a 9 year old girl, born on 9/11/01, that was brought to the event by a family friend. But if there is one thing I’ve learned, you don’t try to apply “rational thinking”, such as policy disagreements, to the actions of mentally unstable people. The people we should be focusing on are the (arguably) “sane” people that CREATE this climate of overheated rhetoric that help push the insane over the edge, rather than the thought processes of someone who thinks the voices in his head are the after-effects of a government monitoring his thoughts. No, our focus needs to be on “who is creating this climate of violent anti-government extremism” coupled with how a documented mentally ill person is able to LEGALLY obtain a semi-automatic pistol?
Pima County (AZ) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik summed it up perfectly during a press briefing that same afternoon:
“I think it’s the vitriolic rhetoric we hear day in & day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business…” (…)
“Arizona has become a Mecca of prejudice and bigotry.” – Sheriff Dupnik
You know what I was doing just before this story broke? I was responding to a quote on Facebook by “a friend” that posted a quote (falsely) attributed to Founding Father Thomas Jefferson:
“Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.” – Thomas Jefferson
Knowing what I know about Jefferson… a pacifist that railed against “standing armies in peacetime” in favor of “a well regulated militia”, and supported the invention of the “U.S. Armory system” (which we still have today) where guns are held “in case of emergency” (arguably, once intended to provide civilians with guns should we be invaded again), and author of the “Jefferson Bible”… it seemed highly unlikely that he would specifically contradict a noted Bible passage in favor of “gun rights”. So I checked the Official Jefferson wiki page, which notes that, while there is no proof Jefferson didn’t say those words (try proving a negative), the quote appears nowhere in ANY of his writings. And if Jefferson… a prolific writer and author of our most treasured documents (Declaration and the Constitution), felt this way, he surely would of expressed those beliefs in some document somewhere. He didn’t. And I’d bet everything I own he never made the above quote.
These new “Patriots” (actually, “Nationalists“) don’t care. If they can justify their extremist rhetoric by tying it… either to the Bible or a Founding Father… then truth & facts be damned. But I find this particular quote disturbing because it justifies repudiating of a celebrated Bible quote on the subject of “peace” (Isaiah 2:4 – beating swords into plowshares) by (mis)attributing it to a Founding Father. For “Bible-thumping gun rights advocates”… a group that exists only in some moral black hole from which reason can neither enter nor escape, it’s okay to contradict the Bible if a Founding Father says it. Apparently, “Founding Fathers” trump Jesus when it’s convenient. I find it disturbing… though never surprising… how far these “Super-patriots” will go to defend their violent extremism.
The quote was followed by the usual “Right on’s” and “Attaboy’s” one might expect from like-minded “government is the source of all evil” anti-establishment fetishists we’ve come to know and loath since the days of Bill Clinton. (I’d be interested in the reaction of these “Patriots” if we were to find out the quote was actually attributed to Mussolini or Napoleon. Would they continue to defend it? Would the “Right on’s” and “Attaboy’s” continue? I suspect not. Attributing the militaristic quote to someone like Jefferson gives them “moral” cover.) I wrote about this way back in 2007. But the REAL problem is: Just WHO is fostering this climate of… as Congressman Emanuel Clever so perfectly put it on Meet the Press Sunday… “I’m good. You’re evil!”
Everyone over the age of 30 remembers “Waco” and the more than a month-long standoff between a gun-running religious cult and Federal ATF officers in the dawn of the Clinton Administration’s first term. But what most people forget is that this was NOT THE FIRST INCIDENCE of a standoff between a well-armed anti-government isolationist and the Federal government. For that, you must go back to the last year of the Bush-41 Administration and a violent conflict known as “Ruby Ridge”, where Federal agents shot and killed the wife of a White Separatist as she stood on the patio of their home while holding their baby son. The anti-government gun-rights movement was essentially born at that moment, but it was so small and had such little impact, that the entire incident flew in under the radar of most Americans until the incident in Waco the following year.
For the remainder of the Clinton Administration (and to this day), people with their own agenda and most certainly know better, deliberately and knowingly (imho) falsely attribute “Ruby Ridge” to the Clinton Administration, and use those early 90′s “government vs. The People” incidents to label DEMOCRATS as the “anti-gun, excessive use of government Power” Party… a label that takes us to today, or specifically, last Saturday, when a mentally ill kid not old enough to remember “Ruby Ridge”, Waco and “Oklahoma City”, motivated to violence against the government for reasons best left to Glenn Beck and the rantings of the insane, was able to legally purchase a firearm and start shooting people attending a political rally.
This violent “government is evil” rhetoric has become a part of our culture today. The Media is trying to claim “both sides are to blame for the ‘recent’ rise in vitriol that led to Saturdays shooting” (read David Niewert’s excellent thoughts on that subject over on “Crooks & Liars”). And while we can’t apply “political motives” to the rantings of an insane gunman, I CAN argue that YOU CAN & WILL NOT FIND ANY EXAMPLES OF HIGH-PROFILE DEMOCRATS USING ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC AGAINST THEIR POLITICAL OPPONENTS.
Last March, Rep Giffords’ local office HQ’s window was shattered in protest over the Health Care Reform debate. Here’s a look back at the level of open hostility at the time, trumped up… and even openly encouraged… by the Republican Party towards Democrats that led directly to outbreaks of violent protests and rampant incivility:
March 21, 2010
Limbaugh: “We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out.”
Political motivations of the shooter aside, this violent climate belongs to Conservatives and Conservatives alone. Deal with it.
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