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Arizona shootings a teachable moment?

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Since the cowardly massacre in Arizona, I have watched major news coverage, caught a couple radio talking heads and read a lot online. I have been trying to process the event and the possible connection with the political environment. I keep hearing from many, especially on the right, outrage at the suggestion that the hate speech of the past two years could have had any connection with the massacre. Suddenly moderation and accepting that this was just an anomaly... and we all need to just take a deep breath and move on is the message.

Then last night I listened to president Obama give a superb speech, in which he again reached out to conservatives and asked them and democrats to put aside partisanship and work together to heal our country. He called for us to all remember there is more that unites us than divides us. He made no reference to the hate and lies directed toward him over the past two years...in short he chose to take the high ground and called for unity and asked us to work together to move our country foreword.

I would love for that to happen and will remain open to any such efforts. I fully realize that there are conservatives who are decent, concerned Americans, who are ready to roll up their sleeves and begin the work of healing. However I have lived through several national tragedies, and history suggests that a certain percentage are unwilling to give up their hate. Although I hope I am wrong, I fear human nature may well win out in the end with these fearful, hate filled types... I see this morning that some of the hard right types are on line and claiming that the president "used" the Arizona shootings as a political opportunity... my guess is these fools did not even bother watching and simply assumed the worst. For these types, if Obama discovered the cure for cancer, they would claim somehow, it was a socialist plot.

These are the ones who have been calling the duly elected president a traitor, an African Nazi, an un-American socialist... I hope now they will rethink using such untrue hate speech and a civil debate can begin. But I won't hold my breath. I remember how after 911 we all called a truce and decided to join together. For a short while I caught a glimpse of America as it should be. not as left and right, but as Americans.

Unfortunately, I also remember that it was not very long till partisan lines were drawn again. It was all too soon that the Bush administration made it clear that anyone not agreeing with their agenda was not a 'real American' and therefore soft on terrorism. Most democrats tucked their tails and meekly went along with being lied into a war. Torture and due process became acceptable. Almost all mainstream media silently waved the flag and read W.H. press releases. Funny that even though the mainstream media were supportive of and in a real way, complicit by their silence in allowing these events to take place, conservatives still kept up their 'liberal media' charges whenever they heard anything they disagreed with.

We all simply gave them a pass.


Then I realized something undeniable. When the Tea party screamed their hate and lies for over a year unchallenged... it empowered the haters and the unstable who were looking for an excuse for their hate. It gave them a target. It is common knowledge that Frank Luntz came up with the socialism, big government lies... even though the CBO has scored the new health care bill and says it will lower the deficit and facts were it would help 30 million suffering Americans and in no way was a "government takeover" ... the lie is so believed by many conservatives, they simply ignore the facts and continue screaming the lies... and continue accusing our government of a socialistic plot to kill old people and take away their rights... stoking the fires of hatred and paranoia.

While I realize there is no direct connection between the violent rhetoric of the right and the Arizona massacre, The fact that it validates the fear and paranoia of the more unstable is inescapable.

The old saw about words having consequences is all too true. When you validate the fears of unstable paranoids and add to their fears with terrible sounding predictions of the end of our democracy... bad things happen. Think how many violent images and words have come not from citizens, but republican leaders. Fueling the fear and hate.

When the Oklahoma federal building was blown up... we simply dismissed all the right wing anti government hate speech we had heard so much of leading up to the blast... and we gave them a pass and moved on... and buried the dead.

When the plane rammed into the IRS building, When the policeman was killed in an art gallery by a militia type... we simply moved on. When tea party 'patriots' spit on elected officials, or threw bricks through democratic officials windows, or made death threats... we simply moved on.

We gave them a pass.

You have people like Glenn Beck who repeatedly and constantly refer to political opponents on the left as traitors, treasonists, Marxists, fascists, Nazi's," and at least three terrorist assaults were connected to Beck by the perp's families, including the shootout with Byron Williams, who targeted the tides foundation that Beck had been demonizing. Williams said that "Beck was his teacher".

In a nation that has a tragic history of violence against our leaders it is unconscionable that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz's opponent invited supporters to fire an assault rifle at a silhouette bearing her name,"

Sharon Angle "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."

"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,' and the people -- we the people -- are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country." -Rep. Michele Bachmann, March 2009

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Love learning. Hate stupidity and intolerance. First let me say that I am not a professional writer, although I have written a couple of screenplays and even sold one some years ago. I am however a professional actor and a member of the screen (more...)
 

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If a few more of the GOP leadership had a bit more... by Peter Lawlor on Friday, Jan 14, 2011 at 11:31:03 AM
An excellent article, but according to the POTUS, ... by Bruce Morgan on Friday, Jan 14, 2011 at 9:40:07 PM