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Death Panels, Palin's Targets, and Political Assassination

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"Included among Palin's Democratic targets: North Dakota's at-large Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Southeast Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello." USA Today, Sept 24

The link to Palin's Take Back 20 web page is no longer operating.

Palin's active use of violent imagery and violent rhetorical phrases like targeting goes a step further than  the defamers of JFK and President Obama.  The images of a rifle site crosshairs are paired with the phrase, "We've diagnosed the problem.  Help us provide the solution."   While defeat in the upcoming elections was the goal, the entire approach to the campaign carried with it a violent double entendre.

Townhall.com, a major right wing web site, ran an article endorsing Palin's campaign.  Sarah Palin's "Take Back 20" presented one of Palin's campaign images, a map of the United States (screenshot).  The map shows crosshairs, bulls eye images, over each of the 20 congressional districts,  targets to be defeated in the 2010 congressional elections.  This included Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

In the article, commentator Jillian Bandes said that, "Twenty House Dems from districts that McCain carried in 2008 voted for the health care bill, and Sarah Palin has a target on every single one," including Representative Gabrielle Giffords district in  Arizona.  Bandes continued, "The targets were released on the six month anniversary of Obamacare."  She concluded that, Palin's "site should go a long way towards knocking off the politicians who put their party affiliation ahead of their constituent's demands." (Author's emphasis)

Violent Imagery with Dead Seniors as the Predicate

Unlike the charges against the two presidents, Kennedy and Obama, Palin's core factual claim was accurate.  The 20 House Democrats up for election in 2010 had each voted for health care reform.  However, the charges that preceded Palin's Take back 20 campaign were the same type of vile lies  presented in the charges against Kennedy and Obama.

The newly formed Tea Party, financed by right wing lobbyists, claimed that the Obama reforms would introduce "death panels." Some reform opponents claimed that these fictitious panels would decide whether seniors would live or die at a certain point in their later years.  This was, of course, an absurd lie.  Nevertheless, the foundation for irrational hate and fear was established.  The composite form of the message was:

The 20 targeted House members voted for a health care bill that created "death panels" to kill seniors simply due to their age.  The votes were cast in support of a Muslim president bent on creating a Marxist world government.

Turning Hate into Action

We don't know the story behind accused assassin Jared Lee Loughner.  Nor can we  assign a certain role for the culture of political hate created over the last few years, including  Palin's Take Back 20 campaign.  One of those closest to the assassination attempt on Giffords plus the other assaults and murders  spoke out clearly.  The Sheriff of Pima County, Clarence Dupnik, said:

"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," Dupnik said. "Unfortunately, Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry." CNN

Ironically, Gabrielle Giffords made the strongest connection between Palin's violent images and real world consequences when she warned Palin of the consequences of her web site images and rhetoric.

We don't need political assassinations to justify ending the climate of vile lies that has dominated the political landscape over the past two decades.  Then again, we didn't need anti-abortion advocates killing doctors to demand that extremists end the charges that doctors performing abortions are "baby killers."  We certainly didn't need presidential candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, singing "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" when a calamitous attack on that country was a possibility.

The purveyors of mass delusions tied to violent imagery and hate filled rhetoric are circling the wagons to defend their inalienable right to lie and inflame those on the edge of reality.  Nothing much will change from the top.  All the while, critical issues of war and peace and economic survival will remain perpetually on the back burner while the culture of violence erupts repeatedly.  This represents an unacceptable and tragic distraction that points to our rapid demise unless leaders listen to the people of this country who, most assuredly, have had enough.

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Sarah Palin to be one of the most dangerous influe... by Allen Oliver on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 7:17:21 AM
it is speech from both sides that fuel these type ... by Laura Roberts on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 9:28:40 AM
Quantitatively, there is much more hate speech bro... by Michael Collins on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:31:10 PM
This could explain why he began to be seen as unst... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:59:07 PM
We don't know the full story on Loughner but we do... by Michael Collins on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 1:47:19 PM
In a ten year period, police were called to his ho... by Laura Roberts on Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 11:05:18 PM
Aiming at Fox news is to aim at the nine ring in a... by Arthur M. Howard-(Scotoni) on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 3:00:51 AM
Youu're right. I should have mentioned Murdoch, t... by Michael Collins on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:36:23 PM
his bottom line is the money it makes for him. He... by Allen Oliver on Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011 at 12:02:49 PM
is that you disagree. In the court of opinions the... by Allen Oliver on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 3:54:26 PM
Then, when something happens, they cry like babies... by Michael Collins on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:25:06 PM
we all are to blame, it is our culture that has be... by msedano on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 10:17:41 AM
We're in a new era of acceptability and we are to ... by Michael Collins on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:34:38 PM
... by William Chappell on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 11:05:35 AM
.... except the nut who did it. We can't turn int... by Natalie Oberman on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:20:26 PM
to be the focus. We don't now for sure where this... by Michael Collins on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:38:52 PM
Your link to evidence that Loughner was a 911 trut... by Rob Kall on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 8:25:17 AM
Rob, no, I'm not a troll, I'm simply attempting to... by Natalie Oberman on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:37:14 AM
This link is much better, more authoritative and i... by Rob Kall on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:56:47 AM
Natalie is off her rocker, of course. Nonetheless,... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:23:02 AM
she should not be censored but she should know the... by Allen Oliver on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 3:45:15 PM
Thanks Ned. I'm used to much sharper elbows at ot... by Michael Collins on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:26:32 PM
The previous link I provided (that you deleted) wa... by Natalie Oberman on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:41:21 PM
was implicating her. I can't see where Michael all... by Allen Oliver on Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011 at 2:00:26 PM
No one is implicating her? Come on. I get scolde... by Natalie Oberman on Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 4:01:13 AM
that this will become about politics and gun contr... by Laura Roberts on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 5:27:49 PM
You said again, "Both sides are just as guilty of ... by Michael Collins on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 12:06:39 AM
is where is all this foaming at the mouth anger co... by Allen Oliver on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 6:39:45 AM
Not only can you probably jump higher than me, All... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:39:59 AM
I never noticed, but hey you've been playing in th... by Allen Oliver on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 3:29:10 PM
I have to respectfully disagree with you. This ha... by Laura Roberts on Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 10:30:21 PM
Dare I say: TROLL?Rat-atat-tat.... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:32:04 AM
Remember, this is civil discourse. :>)... by Allen Oliver on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 3:31:55 PM
A touch subject to be sure. One thing that I have... by Doc McCoy on Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 9:33:57 PM
What do you think?What would China do with people ... by Debbie S on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 1:22:43 PM
Palin, Beck and O'Reilly would not be allowed to b... by Doc McCoy on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 7:18:45 PM
I agree with you 100%.So what is the rational thou... by Debbie S on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:13:17 PM
So here we go with the freedom squelchers from the... by Natalie Oberman on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 12:23:39 AM
How willing we liberals are to attack speech we do... by Miriam Callaghan on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:44:17 PM
"I trust the vast majority out there who have wat... by Natalie Oberman on Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 3:12:13 AM
My point on Palin's popularity was simple. She's ... by Michael Collins on Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 10:22:39 PM
You're right. "We don't know", or at least we did... by Natalie Oberman on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 3:49:49 AM
I agree there's a fair amount of righty-hate out t... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 12:04:37 PM
Thank you J., for (most of) that. You're always a... by Natalie Oberman on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 1:45:40 PM
I think you're giving FAUX News way more credit th... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 3:58:28 PM
and the main reason is she quit her position as go... by Laura Roberts on Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 10:50:41 PM
I wouldn't necessarily either, in a primary at lea... by Natalie Oberman on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 2:30:16 PM
I just have a thing against crypto-secessionists :... by J. Edward Tremlett on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 2:15:49 PM