The attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords raises the bar for political lies and hate to a new level. Previously, incendiary political lies stopped just short violent imagery. Sarah Palin's Take Back 20 campaign presented a violent threat in the form of rifle site crosshairs placed over the congressional districts of 20 Democratic supporters of health care reform.
Ironically, Giffords sent Palin a clear message to end the violent allusion in the ads. In this brief video, she warns:
" we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list but the thing is that the way she's had it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun site over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize that there [are] consequences to that action." Rep. Giffords
The appeal had no effect. It took the events of Saturday, January 8 at a shopping mall in Tucson, Arizona to finally get Palin to pull down her crosshairs studded map marking 20 Democrats for defeat as punishment for support of health care reform.
Political Assassinations and Assaults
Months before the JFK assassination, right wing zealots in Dallas demonstrated against the dangers posed by the Kennedy administration. The pseudo mug shot (image) accused Kennedy of treason. It appeared on the streets of Dallas, Texas prior to the assassination. The soon to be murdered president was accused of turning the Constitution over to a Communist United Nations; failing to register Communists; invading a "sovereign state" with U.S. troops (e.g., supporting court orders for the racial integration of schools); appointing "Anti-Christians" to government positions; and lying about his "previous marriage and divorce."
The charge of "treason" plus the inflammatory content of the specific lies tarred Kennedy as a criminal and a danger to the country. The net outcome was to dehumanize the president. The mainstream media of the 1960's did not run these inflammatory charges.
The level of personal attacks on President Obama echoes the extreme hatred directed at Kennedy. There are reasons that warrant a vigorous challenge to the current president on issues, tactics, and strategies. When the challenges come in the form of hate filled lies that the president is secretly a Muslim or that he's part of a new world order based on Marxism, the lies have the effect of inflaming the uninformed and bigoted.
In the 1960's, the charges against JFK were published in extremist newsletters and offered at meetings by fringe political groups. Today, the inflammatory charges against President Obama and other Democrats are a part of the mainstream media via Fox Broadcasting and Fox News.
Fox Broadcasting has been the number one or two in network over the past few years. The Fox News cable operation, which feeds some local Fox affiliates, is a consistent ratings leader among the cable networks. Lies viewed in print by a few hundred thousand in the 1960's are dwarfed by nonstop lies told on the Fox network to tens of millions every single day.
Fox News hired former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as commentator in January 2010. She made her debut on the O'Reilly show and is a frequent guest of other talking heads on Fox News. While at Fox, Palin began a campaign to get rid of 20 Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Sarah Palin's Targets
The Palin site is no longer operating.
Sara Palin's web site featured the image above for the Take Back 20 campaign. The crosshairs are those that Rep. Giffords referenced in the video above. USA Today covered the campaign roll out on September 27, 2010.
"In a website launched on Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the health care law, Palin puts a bull's-eye on 20 House districts under a headline that reads, "We've diagnosed the problem"Help us prescribe the solution."
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