A very much troubling thing has happened in Arizona this afternoon. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, along with 11 other people were shot by a gunman at a grocery store townhall event.
Many things are going to happen in the next few days and weeks. Many people are going to have an opinion and many people are going to spin this in whichever way they want. But my feeling, based on my experience, is that most people in power will preach unity and standing together.
We cannot overlook the conditions that allowed this to occur.
In many unfortunate ways, didn't you see something like this coming? You remember this little innocent piece of art:
Recognize any names? Yes, the Congresswoman shot today is in that "harmless" list of Sarah's. Almost all liberals denounced this list and I did not hear many conservatives take a stand.
Well here we are. People have died and a government official has been wounded. Of course, conservatives on the defensive will in no way see a connection between this shooting and the harsh language that preceded it in our national conversation with the Tea Party. The shooter will be labeled as a "nut" who is not exemplative of the general conservative population. But let me tell you what, this "nut" is someone who, like all of us, gets swayed by emotions; is someone who obviously is unstable; is someone who is not helped when people who have a platform are literally calling people to arms because of what our government is doing.
This is horrible! For years the Republican party has tended to use Fear to drive home their points. From 9/11 until now every talking point went through the lens of Fear. From the War on Terror to now the War on Obamacare. And guess what... people are actually afraid! And this is what happens when Fear is mixed with ignorance! And our government officials have to hold responsibility for this! When you lead by the example of grouping a certain group of people and holding all of them responsible, maybe not blatantly, but definitely through your words, people will follow your lead. And yes, I am talking about the conservative war on Muslims. And what the Republicans and Tea Partiers have recently been doing is holding Democrats in total responsible for this new onslaught of "socialism" and "Marxism" and and overall responsibility for the state that everyone is in right now. And unfortunately, Ms. Giffords has been grouped into this group that has been the cause of the Fear that the conservatives propagate.
People will call on "toning down the Washington rhetoric." All officials, both Democrats and Republicans, will be participating in the conversation. But this is not a liberal issue! This is a conservative problem!
When 58% of the GOP doubts or are unsure about the fact that Obama was actually born here, this is not a liberal issue!
When 63% of the GOP truly believe that Obama is a socialist, this is not a liberal issue!
For the last couple of years many conservatives have been towing the line of heated rhetoric versus a call to violence. Today is a product of that. It needs to stop.