So some crazy young man (they’re always men) shoots a Congresswoman pointblank through the head and sprays thirty more bullets from a gun clip he bought at Walmart, killing a 9-year-old girl and five others in Arizona, “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry” according to the sheriff of Tucson … and for four long days, the biggest mouth in American politics was as MIA as an atheist in a foxhole.
Let me tell you why.
The only thing Sarah Palin could’ve said that would’ve really pricked the nation’s ears was this: “I wish I hadn’t put out that map with the cross-hairs, with one of them targeting the district represented by Gabby Giffords. And I wish I hadn’t talked about ‘don’t retreat, reload’ in a political context. Gun talk and threats around guns don’t belong in politics. We can agree to disagree, angrily if we wish, but we shouldn’t be threatening each other. I’m sorry I added to the gun talk.”
Unfortunately Sarah Palin can’t do this. Because if she did, she would lose face with her constituency. They’re ALL about guns and gun talk, and they think only wuzzes apologize. She can’t disappoint them. Mama Grizzlies don’t apologize. They attack.
Sarah Palin is screwed by her own persona. She’s boxed in by her own political posture. With no mea in her culpa, her pitbull persona has lipstick but no grace. So she has nothing worthwhile to say. Gun talk is what she is all about. How can she walk away from what she is, and what people who like her are all about?
The Tea Party extremists that Sarah Palin represents are all about threats. All about taking guns to political rallies. All about watering the tree of liberty with blood. All about taking up arms against our tyrannical government. All about “Second Amendment remedies,” i.e. using the Constitutional right to bear arms to get what they want. All about “we came unarmed — this time.” All about war and macho frontier posturing.
Sarah Palin stands for something all right: the victory of right-wing dumbfuckery in America. We’re dysfunctional because we have more influential idiots in our nation than any other industrialized nation has in theirs. You have to ask yourself what kind of a nation elevates dumb-brunette loons like Michele Bachmann into our government and raging moonbats like Glenn Beck into our punditry. Anywhere else they’d be laughed out of public life, but here they’re heroes. It’s like the Attack of the Zombies, or the Rule of White Trash. Half the nation is not embarrassed by these blithering lunatics, and the other half puts them on TV.
1. WALMART AND CONGRESS ARE MORE TO BLAME FOR THE SHOOTING THAN THE TEA PARTY
So who’s to blame for the shooting? No, the Tea Party doesn’t have any direct connection to what Jared Loughner did, despite Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle saying: “If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you: the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”
No, Sarah Palin had absolutely nothing to do with it either, despite Gabby Giffords herself warning that “we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted, it has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action.”
If anything, Walmart had more to do with this tragedy than most. They should be putting out an apologetic video, and remove from their shelves all gun clips for hunting people. They’re accessories to murder, plain and simple, as are the NRA. And Congress had EVERYTHING to do with it, since they didn’t renew the ban on assault weapons when it lapsed in 2004. Congress didn’t do their job, so one of their own got shot — some kind of bizarro karmic justice in a freak world run by the Joker (his surreal glee in society’s chaos is fast replacing the idea of a benign God as an explanatory metaphor for our times).
Blaming Palin and the Tea Party for the shooting of Gabby Giffords and the death of six people is great fun, but stupid. It may be a hoot to see Faux News and Hate Radio acting like hapless virgins accused of instigating the Rape of the Sabines, as long as we realize that turning this tragedy into a political blame game is standard operational politics, hence the usual stupid politics. Of course, as a political figure, Palin had to buy into the stupidity, and in the hysterically comical way that today’s politicians do. In her video released last Wednesday, she claimed to be a “blood libel” victim of the shooting, as if she’d been pogrommed or something. Now personally, I’ve never liked the taste of a Christian child’s blood in my matzoh. It especially doesn’t blend with the taste of matzoh when you make it with eggs. Maybe Sarah Palin has the same problem. Still, she was right to remind us that “we are better than the mindless finger pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy.”
But let’s be serious for a moment: Jared Loughner did what all those guys who show up with guns at political meetings threaten to do. He did what they would like to do. He shot a Democrat. These gun-toters don’t dare say it out loud, but you can bet they’re saying in their hearts: it’s about time somebody shot one of those Democratic Party bastards, one of those socialist Marxist traitors. That’ll show them we mean business.
2. THREE RECORDED CASES IN WHICH GLENN BECK INSPIRED POLITICAL VIOLENCE
Before you think I’m being hysterical, check out this conversation between Chris Matthews on his TV show “Hardball” with David Brock, founder of Media Matters, a website that monitors and corrects conservative misinformation in our media.
BROCK: What does the Tea Party moniker stand for? Armed rebellion, right? This has been the theme of the Republican candidates and of Sarah Palin all year.
MATTHEWS: Excuse me. History lesson. The Boston Tea Party was a nonviolent economic statement against the Stamp Act, I believe. They threw the tea in the water. No guns. They dressed up like Indians. It was a demonstration. It was street theater.
MATTHEWS: OK? No guns.
BROCK: But this is not street theater, as you know. Glenn Beck himself has been responsible for three thwarted assassination attempts this year. And Sarah Palin –
MATTHEWS: How is he responsible for them?
BROCK: Well, you want to know what they are?
MATTHEWS: You said it.
BROCK: Sure. So, he burned Nancy Pelosi in effigy on his set. He tried to poison her with a chalice. OK. Some three weeks later, somebody tried to firebomb Nancy Pelosi`s house. That guy`s mother went on television and said he gets all his ideas from FOX News. Do you know about Senator Patty Murray and the death threat that she got?
MATTHEWS: No. Go ahead.
BROCK: OK. It`s recorded. The guy says after the health care vote, he says, you have a target on your back and I can accomplish what I want to accomplish with one bullet. He`s tried, convicted, and in the sentencing phase, his cousin writes in for leniency and she describes in a very chilling memo — it`s on our Web site — that he was slowly drawn into Glenn Beck`s world. And she portrays the guy, the attempted assassin, Charlie Wilson, as a victim of Beck. And, number three, which you probably do know about, this liberal foundation in San Francisco was targeted by a gunman, Byron Williams, in June. The shooter gave jailhouse interviews — and we published them — and he says Glenn Beck is a schoolteacher on television and points to specific episodes of the Glenn Beck show that inspired him to do it.
MATTHEWS: Oh, God.
Oh God is right. Left-wing people who are upset with right-wing vitriol aren’t barking at the moon. There are crazies with guns out there, and right-wing vitriol gives them targets for their craziness. To say lefties are equally vitriolic is not the point; we’re talking about a special kind of vitriol: incitement-to-violence vitriol. This meme of Faux News that you lefties are just as crazy as us righties is BS. It’s not like political leaders on the left are telling their followers to reload. You’re not going to find a far-out lefty like Bernie Sanders telling his followers to go gunning for Sarah Palin, like you’ll find the Glenn Becks of this world inspiring a dude to try and burn down Nancy Pelosi’s house. The crazies just waiting to be inspired aren’t on the left either; they’re on the right. I haven’t heard of any left-wing militia since the Weathermen fifty years ago, while right-wing militia are training hard down South even as you are reading this.
3. PEOPLE WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN GOVERNMENT DON’T BELIEVE IN AMERICA
This should be a time of coming together and denouncing vitriol and threats, but don’t expect any restraint from the right-wing. Palinism is not about coming together. It’s about dividing the country between “real” Americans and the rest of us. It’s about my in-group versus your out-group. It’s about us and them. Them, the government. And us, the real people. Us the hardcore Tea Party people, and them, all those Others, which include those moderate not-hardcore-enough Republicans whom we Tea Partiers primaried, to the point that we’ve now got all the GOP leaders intimidated, heh, heh. None of today’s moderate GOP leaders have the guts to tell their crazies to tone it down, like right-wing William Buckley had the guts to denounce the far-right John Birch Society decades ago (interesting that rich Fred Koch bankrolled that Society, just like his rich sons are bankrolling the Tea Party now; plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose).
These Tea Party people don’t believe in government because they don’t believe in America. They don’t believe in the sharing, caring America of the common good, of taking social responsibility, of helping each other, of being my brother’s or sister’s keeper, of using government to get rich people to help poor people instead of the other way round. For chrissake, America is its government, and if at the moment, we’re a plutocracy instead of a democracy, we should help save our government from Wall Street and all the other bastards who milk and bilk us. The government shouldn’t be shrunk; we should make it big and smart enough to control Wall Street on our behalf.
The logical extreme of being anti-government is to start shooting members of the government. The shooting of Gabby Giffords is all of a piece with Republican anti-government propaganda; a domestic counterpart to their neocon foreign war pathology.
4. THE TWO AMERICAS: THE VIOLENT RIGHT AND THE NON-VIOLENT LEFT
This is a time for a moral judgment about violence. But that’s not what the Sarah Palins of this world are about. Sarah Palin is for violence. For guns. For shooting animals. For war. So she had nothing to say for the longest time.
There is a fault-line in American culture and politics. It’s a line running through our DNA, our genetics, our very instincts. On one side are the warmongers, the ones who cheer our troops as they go forth to kill foreign people in faraway lands, the gun-toting macho NRA people, the military-industrial complex. On the other side are our peaceniks, who take to our streets to march against war.
The warmongers are on the right, the peaceniks on the left. Unfortunately, the warmongers have always been the majority. Our killer majority even includes our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Obama (the same man who gave a brilliantly moving speech at the Tucson Memorial — maybe the best speech from a pol since the Gettysburg address IMO — on the day that Palin released her video, inadvertently showcasing her all-about-me-ness against Obama’s all-about-us-ness; it’s just a pity that Obama’s exhortation that “our task, working together, is to constantly widen our circle of concern” hasn’t included him including in his circle of concern (a) our unemployed, whom he has the power to employ with a WPA program to rebuild our infrastructure, or (b) dead 9-year-olds in Afghanistan, who constitute yet more collateral damage of him sending more troops there). When it comes to killing people, America is the exceptional nation, and our presidents are the exceptional presidents.
Now, at this time of tragedy, when we see what happens under the tyranny of the NRA, when the results of happy gun talk lie dead and bleeding before us, the peace makers have a point, and the warmongers don’t. There is physical evidence that the left is right, and the right wrong. Somehow, somewhere, Sarah Palin must’ve felt a twinge of paralyzing cognitive dissonance, which is probably as far as her conscience can stretch itself.
That’s why Sarah had nothing to say for four days. She represents the “have gun will kill” side of America. The right. And it took the actual deaths of real Americans shot by her favorite implement to at last get her, for at least four days, to STFU.
What a miniscule mercy, but still, a mercy it was.