I can’t help but be saddened by the events in Arizona on Sunday morning that left six people dead and thirteen wounded, including the apparent target of the shooting, Representative Gabrielle Giffords. People who follow my blog or know me well know I am a conservative who has no problem sharing my disagreement with most liberal/Democrat politics. I’ve been very clear on that over the last couple of years. They also know I would never, ever wish this type of event on any politician, regardless of their party affiliation and/or what’s going on in Washington. It’s senseless and tragic.
That said, I also can’t help but be appalled by some of the rhetoric I’ve heard from people who want to blame specific individuals for this tragedy. Within hours of the shootings some left wing bloggers were blaming Sarah Palin for causing Jared Loughner’s rampage. Others blamed Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and anyone else on the right who has been outspoken against the Obama administration. Some were even calling for the arrest and prosecution of these people as if they’d personally given Loughner the gun and instructions.
In turn, people on the right were blaming left wing politics for Loughner’s actions. Friends of his said he was a liberal and some of his favorite books, according to the media, were The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf, which automatically made him a left-wing extremist in the eyes of the right. The hatred flying back and forth on the internet yesterday was absolutely incredible.
During the 2010 campaigns Sarah Palin’s strategy team used a map and put certain politicians on it they were “targeting” for their election campaign to get them voted out of office. This word “targeting” along with her comment two years about reloading caused people on the left to decide Palin wants all Democrats to be killed. Glenn Beck talks about government takeover of America and how a revolution could be possible in the future if Americans continue to grow more angry with the direction of the government. Some liberals posting online yesterday decided Beck’s words had encouraged Loughner to start shooting. Some even said Beck uses subliminal brainwashing techniques on his shows to get conservatives to kill liberals. The thought that some people actually believe this would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetically tragic.
Interestingly, President Obama has made remarks over the last couple of years that could be (and have been by the right-wing posters) construed as encouraging violence as well. The President has said “if they bring a knife we’ll bring a gun”, and recently told a Hispanic group that “it’s time to punish your enemies”. He told other groups “you need to get in their faces” and “hit back twice as hard.” These remarks by an elected U.S. President could easily be construed as instructions to hurt or kill someone, couldn’t they? Or is it different because he’s the President?
Anyone with a working brain knows remarks made by Palin, Beck, and even the President of the United States that refer to guns, targeting your opponent, calling your opponent “the enemy”, etc., is political rhetoric only and is not meant to incite violence of any kind. For all of the talk by Glenn Beck about revolution he has repeated over and over that people should not, for any reason, go out and commit violent acts of any kind. If those who accuse Beck actually listened to what he says in full context they would know that.
My point in all of this is that Jared Loughner alone is responsible for his actions. No matter his political beliefs, no matter his group affiliation, likes and dislikes, the books he read or even who he did or did not listen to on the radio and television, Loughner is responsible for his actions. No one else. From what I’ve read and heard Loughner has beliefs all over the political spectrum. He is anti-government but he is also anti-religion. He is supposedly a liberal (as described by his friends) yet he shot a Democrat Congresswoman. I mentioned two of his favorite books as being The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. There is debate all the time about whether Hitler was right or left wing in his basic beliefs, although the right is not known for big, autocratic government. Again, my point being Loughner has numerous, often contradicting interests and beliefs.
There is no question America is strongly divided by politics. In 2009 the left touted Presidential candidate Barack Obama as “the great uniter”. That hasn’t happened. Of course, many will claim the only reason it hasn’t happened is because anyone who disagrees with Obama is simply a racist. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is many Americans, conservatives, independents and even some Democrats, are unhappy about the direction the current administration is taking the country. And those who are unhappy are squaring off against those who are pushing the far left-wing agenda.
See how simply it can happen? I just said they’re “squaring off” which could easily be translated by some as an indication of violence.
Violent acts by extremists from either side are still the responsibility of the perpetrator of that violence. There is currently no real evidence that Loughner acted on political beliefs from either side nor that he listened to any talk show host and acted on the words and rhetoric of one of them. Loughner acted alone on his own volition and is totally and singularly responsible for six deaths and thirteen wounded people. Both sides need to tone down the hate and accusations. Politics have been the reason for many civil wars and bloodshed throughout the history of the world. We need to learn to disagree without the hatred otherwise the violence will continue to escalate to catastrophic levels. If that happens we all lose.