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Saturday, January 08, 2011
Culture of Violence
Democratic State Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head at point blank range this morning at a public event in Tucson. Whatever motivated her deranged assassin, it is worth noting that Giffords has been targeted before: According to TPM her office was vandalized during the healthcare debates last year, and Republican opponents -- among them, most notoriously, Sarah Palin -- "targeted" her for elimination figuratively as well.
It deserves more mention than it has received so far that a package addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ignited this Friday at a U.S. Postal Service facility in Washington, as did two other parcels addressed to Democratic Maryland officials the day before.
However predictable I suppose it is, I must say I find astonishing nonetheless the speed with which so many right wing commentators have vaulted to the consensus that more outrageous than the violence, more outrageous than the calls to violence that are part of the context in which this violence has taken place, are any expressions of outrage or even worry at the violence or the violent rhetoric that has accompanied it by those struggling to make some sense out of these dreadful events. I would like to hope I will not be accused of premature judgment, unseemly opportunism, or facile conspiracy theory simply for proposing in the midst of this distress that incendiary calls to violence of the kind we have heard from so many Republicans from the 2008 Presidential campaign through the recent 2010 mid-terms, threats of "Second Amendment Remedies" and all, however figurative they may be meant to be, are clearly terribly inappropriate in the atmosphere of profound social dislocation of this Recession, especially accompanied as it has been by the capture of the GOP by its most extreme elements -- or for voicing the hope that these terrifying, tragic acts nudge people of both parties to reconsider the need for stricter regulation of private gun ownership in the United States as well as more rigorous scrutiny of domestic hate groups and militias that celebrate gun violence and circulate fantasies of armed insurrection. Just last April the relentlessly awful Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill making Arizona the third state allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without requiring a permit.