The Right's Rising Tide of Violent Rhetoric Is Deadly
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords appears be the latest victim of anti-government violence that has taken hold in America since 2009. It’s a wave of violence that’s cresting along with a tide of hateful, insurrectionist rhetoric that far too many conservatives refuse to condemn. Instead, the toxic talk is routinely defended as being nothing more than spirited debate.
It’s not. It’s deadly. And until those in positions of power say so, the dangerous rhetoric is likely to continue.
Whether that rhetoric played a role in the gun massacre that erupted at the Tucson shopping center on Saturday, we don’t yet know. Note that over the weekend the local Arizona sheriff, Clarence Dupnik , condemned “the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business,” and especially the influence it may have on “unbalanced” people, like the Tucson shooter.
What’s undeniable is that the attempted assassination of Giffords took place against a right-wing media backdrop that has been targeting the government, and specifically Democrats, in an unconscionable manner:
As facts of the Giffords shooting continue to come in, let’s understand what has transpired in recent months as right-wing partisans have rushed past any sense of common decency and responsibility to endless attack and condemn Democrats. For instance, let’s recall that last March when Congress was preparing to vote on passing health care reform, partisans in the far-right press denounced the vote in apocalyptic language as they depicted Democrats as monsters who deserved to be physically tortured.
Recall that at the same time, a surge of political violence erupted across the county as Democrats became the target of what were essentially terrorist attacks.
- Rep. Tom Perriello's (D-VA) brother's address was erroneously posted online by a Tea Party blogger who invited activists to descend on the house. A gas line outside the brother's house was cut.
- Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) was the target of threatening faxes and phone calls, including death threats.
- A brick was thrown through the window of the Democratic Party office in Rochester, New York.
- Rep. Anthony Weiner's office in Kew Gardens, New York, had to be evacuated after suspicious white powder was found in an envelope mailed to the office.
- A thrown brick smashed a window at Rep. Louise Slaughter's district office in Niagara Falls, New York.
- Slaughter also received a message claiming that "snipers were being deployed to kill those members who voted yes for health care," according to Politico.
- The FBI arrested a California man for making threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
- A tossed brick demolished a window at the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas.
- A devoted Glenn Beck fan left a serious of death threats (“Kill the fucking Senator! “) on the voice mail at the office of Sen. Patty Murray
And of course, there was the attack on Gifford’s Tucson office last March. Hours after voting in favor of health care reform, vandals smashed the front door, along with a headquarters window. Days later, Gifford spoke about being targeted.
“Our office corner has become a place where the Tea Party has congregated. And the rhetoric has become incredibly heated. Not just the calls, but the emails, the slurs,” she told MSNBC. “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”