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I had planned to write a different blog today, and perhapse I still shall, but I first have some business with which to deal.

Last March, Tea-Party maven and would-be 2012 Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin urged,  “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!’ ”

At that time, the former Alaska governor’s Facebook page featured a list of Senators and Congressmembers “targeted” for their vote in favour of President Barack Obama’s Healthcare Reform legislation and a map on which “targeted” districts were marked with crosshairs.

At that time,  Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona–the man who had chosen her as his running-mate in the 2008 Presidential election–defended Ms. Palin’s choice of words and imagery, dismissing such talk of reloading and targeted districts as garden-variety political rhetoric.

Many of us in the United States condemned such talk, remembering much darker, more violent times in our nation’s history.

Three months later, during a fierce political fight between Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid and Sharron Angle, the Tea-Party candidate attempting to replace him in Washington, a recording surfaced of a radio interview Ms. Angle had granted in January.

On the recording, Ms. Angle–who was already under fire for some rather extreme opinions–opined that the public would restrain an “out-of-control” Congress through “Second Amendment options”.

This is the USC Amendment to which Ms. Angled referred:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Yeah…she was saying–implying, if you want to use a better word–that people would simply shoot congressmembers. The hell with democracy! The hell with civilisation and crap like that!

Right-wing water-carriers and pundits immediately defended the rhetoric as just that…rhetoric.

How disingenuous. How cowardly. Your girls issued threats and you should have reprimanded them, but then that would hav ebeen too honourable.

This morning, the lies and disingenuity were finally brushed aside, leaving the United States and the rest of the world to see exactly where such rhetoric leads.

This morning, Democratic Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords was holding what is known as a “meet-and-greet” with her local staff and constituents at a supermarket, when a would-be assassin shot her in the head at point-blank range–one to two metres–along with seventeen other people. Six of them died.

Representative Giffords, the wife of a current astronaut, had fought a long, hard battle against a Tea-Party candidate, but managed to win last November’s election.

Among those who died in today’s shooting were a U.S. District Judge and a nine-year old girl who was attending because she had just been elected to her school’s student council and had an interest in government. (This sentence updated to reflect changing information.)

Representative Giffords is undergoing surgery to repair the “through-and-through” wound to her brain which a former Surgeon General described as “devastating”. (also updated)

The suspect in the shootings is a 22-year old white male. Tea-Party members tend to be white, with the majority being male.

It would appear that he listened to his elders and heeded their advice, putting his political enemies in the crosshairs, executing a second-amendment solution and–possibly–reloading to finish the job.

The suspected shooter is young enough to be my son, and that explains so much. It really does.

Recruiters for militias, insurgent groups and even the U.S. military love people between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five. They’re young, energetic, idealistic and so, so plentiful. They also tend to be ignorant of others’ past mistakes, enabling them to be repeated.

Those of us who were around in the 1960s or whose parents talked freely about that era are not so ignorant.

The only era in U.S. history more violent than the 1960s was the 1860s, when we were engaged in a civil war which left almost a million Americans dead.

The 1960s were an era when power flowed from bomb-blasts and gun-muzzles as often as it did from ballots.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while driving through Dallas, Texas, in what many believe was a well-organised coup d’etat. Earlier that year, three civil-rights workers were murdered and buried in an earthen dam in Mississippi, not because they had killed someone, but for registering black people to vote.

At roughly the same time, a church which served as an icon of Birmingham, Alabama’s black community was bombed, resulting in the deaths of four little girls and in the months which followed, “Bull” Connor employed water-cannon, police-dogs and club-wielding officers to supress a march by blacks protesting racial inequality and suppressed voting rights. In summer of 1964, Rochester, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania erupted in race-riots.

In February 1965, Malcom-X was assassinated in Brooklyn, New York as he spoke to supporters, renouncing the racially-charged message of the Nation of Islam. In August of that year, The Watts neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California. It was the first of many cities, including Detroit,  Newark, Chicago, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Washington D.C. and Baltimore to erupt in gunfire, flames and widespread destruction during the next three years.

1968 was a particularly bad year, in that it saw the April 4 assassination of Martin Luther King, which triggered widespread rioting in Chicago and many other cities, swiftly followed by the June 5 assassination of Democratic Presidential candidate, Robert Francis Kennedy and the August Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which was marred by widespread protests and the authoritarian tactics of that city’s officials.

That is the matchbook version of 1960’s violence. It’s like describing water as “a wet liquid”. The 1960s were a horrible decade which seemed to last fiftene years, tore apart families and cities and was just shy of a civil war. In fact, it changed the nation in many ways normally associated with civil wars and revolutions. The United States in 1970 was nothing like the United States in 1960, much of which had to do with violence and a precipitous decline in civility.

In short, it was a cluster-f**k…one which we needn’t and mustn’t repeat.

My point in all of this is that the assassination–or near-assassination–of a member of the U.S. Congress is an unacceptable retreat into a violent past, and whether or not the young man who did this ever listened to Sarah Palin and Sharon Angle, their message is now inextricably bound to the Tea-Party, much as lynchings are bound to the Ku Klux Klan.

Voices of reason must rise to drown out the shrill voices of fear and hate. We must reclaim the civility and order which once made this nation an example for the world to follow.



  1. A great synopsis of the current event. Whether or not Sarah Palin was directly or indirectly or not at all an indicator for the youth to commit this crime, I believe her indications, language and imagery are unacceptable, inexcusable and perhaps even criminal.

    Thanks for continuing your blogging!



    • Thank you for commenting, J.

      It was a pleasant surprise to see that I had reached ten hits, considering that the blog languished all weekend.

      I do believe the rhetoric of those like Sarah Palin is demeaning to the United States and all civilised nations, but the vitriol which spewed forth from Sharron Angle’s mouth is so much worse.

      It’s a myth that you can say whatever you wish in the United States. We have always had anti-sedition laws, which was one of the reasons I temporarily removed myself from U.S. jurisdiction before criticising the Bush Administration.

      Had they chosen to do so, they could have sent me to prison for ten years, claiming my words were designed to undermine the Federal government.

      Perhaps Ms. Angle, Ms. Palin and their ilk would benefit from the chance to meditate in a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility.


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