Bringing it home to America
TARGETED by 'Tea Party' and Arizona assassin.
Gabrielle Giffords voted for health reform.
SIX people have died, including a nine year old girl and a Federal judge, and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is in a critical condition after being shot in the head and having to undergo emergency brain surgery.
Doctors are not optimistic for her recovery.
Another thirteen people were wounded by the gunman who opened fire as the congresswoman was speaking to people outside a Safeways store in Tucson, Arizona. He might have got more had he not been wrestled to the ground by a brave woman aide to Cong.Giffords, as he was reloading.
The arrested attacker has been variously identified as an "Afghan war veteran" and a 22-year old whom the army had rejected for service. Either way he was bringing home to America the kind of bloodshed that its trigger-happy gunmen, whether troops or 'security' guards have inflicted in other countries. Not that shootings and assassinations are anything new to the United States.
But this was no random shooting 'spree' by a lone, crazed individual. There is no doubt that Gabrielle Giffords was his target, shot in the head at point blank range. Police are reportedly hunting a suspected accomplice who drove the killer into town.
At a press conference following the attack, the Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, blamed political vitriol for fuelling the attack.
"People tend to pooh-pooh this business that we hear about all the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living doing that," he said. "That may be free speech – but there are consequences."
He said Arizona had become "a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry" and that "people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol".Congresswoman Giffords has been a target of the right-wing 'Tea Party' movement for her backing of health care reform and for her views on immigration control, embryonic stem-cell research and the right to abortion. Ironically she is also a strong supporter of the right to bear arms.
In March last year the congresswoman voted in favour of President Obama's healthcare reform, and that night someone shot up and destroyed the door to her office. She told an interviewer the following day that she wasn't fearful for her life, but that her opponents' rhetoric was becoming "incredibly heated". She was asked if the Republican leadership should have spoken out more to denounce the violence. Diplomatically, she said both parties should.
But then, she recounted how she was on Sarah Palin's hit list. "We have the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district," she said. "And when people do that, they've got to realise there are consequences."
In case we thought people like Palin were only using "targeting" as a metaphor for aiming politically, the way we do here, we need only recall the Tea Party's links with the firearms lobby, and that Tea Party members have spoken of using "Second amendment methods" if they don't succeed by the ballot box. The Second Amendment of the US constitution concerns the citizen's right to bear weapons.
Following up on Sarah Palin's list of targets, urging followers to "reload" and "aim" for the Democrats, Arizona Republican Jesse Kelly had a photo on his campaign events website of himself in his old Marine uniform holding a weapon. "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly." The event cost $50.
Now the gunsight for Congresswoman's target seat has been removed from Sarah Palin's map, and Jesse Kelly has apparently decided that with Gabrielle Giffords having been shot, and perhaps not surviving, it might not be in good taste to go ahead with the M16 contest.
Gunman Jared Loughner may be a 'lone'. 'disturbed' individual with a 'troubled past' - have you noticed how often, when a shooting or bombing might be attributed to the right, we are told the perpetrator is a 'loner'? But views as eccentric or extreme as he might have held are increasingly sprouting out amid the mainstream Right. And though Loughner had come to the attention of the authorities, having expressed his views and threatened the congresswoman before, he was still on the street with a 9mm pistol.
This is the America that wants to teach the rest of the world democracy, or so it says. and has had its soldiers and the men from Blackwater out there laying down the citizens, if not the law. The America that claimed the right to kidnap "terror suspects" from around the world to incarcerate and torture in Guantanamo. But who will protect the rights and lives of American citizens from the extremism and terrorism of the American Right? Whatever the arguments about Obama, and the Sarah Palin jokes, maybe it is time to be forewarned, and forearmed.