Monday, January 10, 2011

"Gabby Giffords, a tragic prophet"

E.J. Dionne, Jr.:
There is one commentator whose words should enlighten us on the meaning of Saturday's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the savage murders that took the lives of, among others, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. The person is Giffords herself.

In an interview last March, the Arizona Democrat anticipated almost everything being said now and explained why what happened on Saturday is a violation of our national self-image as "a beacon." Our pride, she said, is that "we effect change at the ballot box" and not through "outbursts of violence."

She spoke on MSNBC after the front door of her Tucson office was destroyed. Giffords had strongly supported health-care reform, which made some of her constituents very unhappy.

Asked if leaders of the Republican Party should speak out more forcefully against violence, she replied that this task fell as well to Democrats and "community leaders."

"Look, we can't stand for this." There were problems with certain ways of "firing people up," she said, and then offered an example close to home.

"We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list," she said, "but the thing is that the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

MSNBC's Chuck Todd pressed her then, noting that "in fairness, campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric have been interchangeable for years." He asked what she thought Palin's intentions were.

"You know, I can't say, I'm not Sarah Palin," Giffords replied evenly. "But what I can say is that in the years that some of my colleagues have served - 20, 30 years - they've never seen it like this. We have to work out our problems by negotiating, working together, hopefully Democrats and Republicans.

"I understand that this health-care bill is incredibly personal," she continued, "probably the most significant vote cast here for decades, frankly. But the reality is that we've got to focus on the policy, focus on the process, but leaders - community leaders, not just political leaders - have to stand back when things get too fired up and say, 'Whoa, let's take a step back here.' " MORE...

Howie P.S.: Peter Daou lays out "the bogus equivalency between right/left extremism:"
We do not yet know whether the Arizona massacre was directly fueled by rightwing rhetoric. But we do know this: one of the most dangerous myths promulgated by the media and political establishment is that there is a comparable level of extremism among conservatives and liberals, that left and right are mirror images.

Even the most cursory perusal of rightwing radio, television, blogs and assorted punditry illustrates a profound distinction: in large measure, the right’s overarching purpose is to stoke hatred of the left, of liberalism. The right’s messaging infrastructure, meticulously constructed and refined over decades, promotes an image of liberals as traitors and America-haters, unworthy of their country and bent on destroying it. There is simply no comparable propaganda effort on the left. MORE...

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