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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/16/11

Momma Grizzly Mauls Smokey The Bear

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Message Linn Washington

Outdoors enthusiast Sarah Palin , who sees sport in blasting wolves with assault rifles from helicopters, surely knows the practical message of iconic fictional character Smokey The Bear: "Only you can prevent forest fires."

Whether Momma Grizzly can really see Russia from her home in Alaska, as she once claimed , she certainly can see the clear meaning of Alaska Statute Section 41.15.110 titled " Uncontrolled Spread of Fire; Leaving Fire Unattended. "

Under a provision in that statue section , a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if they neglect "to make every effort possible" to extinguish a fire they've knowingly set.

Now former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is not guilty of literally starting wildfires in the forests around her beloved Wasilla home. But she is complicit in figuratively firing up the dry tinder in America's forests of political discontent with incendiary rhetoric delivered with the clear intent to inflame.


Damn right!

What else describes Palin repeatedly calling political opponent Barack Obama a "terrorist" during the Fall 2008 presidential campaign -" a characterization carrying incendiary overtones in America's post-9/11 climate.

Flicking off criticisms about her inappropriate campaign rhetoric, Palin knowingly fired opposition to President Obama's health-care reform telling supporters to "reload" not retreat -" slick phrasing embedding incendiary reference to firearms.

And dumping hot cinders on civility, Palin put gun sight cross-hairs on a map targeting twenty Democratic members of Congress to be unseated.

Irrespective of Palin's indignant claim that such imagery is harmless political hyperbole the cross-hairs graphics were as ominous as incendiary.

One of those Congress members put in Palin's cross-hairs , of course, was Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded during that recent massacre where a crazed gunman killed six and wounded 14.

That Tucson shooting rampage is not an isolated act in America's tinderbox political arena, where right-wing anti-government adherents repeatedly engaged in shootouts with police last year in incidents that included a March 2010 shooting at the Pentagon, a May shooting near Memphis and a July shooting in California.  

It is no coincidence that President Obama has been the target of more death threats than any president in American history, according to the Secret Service.

That at least some of those threats against the President result directly from the charged anti-Obama rhetoric comparing him to Hitler and calling him un-American is as certain as the connection Smokey the Bear draws between reckless conduct and ruinous forest fires. A forest fire destroys whether it starts from accident or arson.

Months ago Congresswoman Giffords stated the obvious about Palin's now infamous cross-hairs map in words that should resonate for conservatives who are fond of mouthing platitudes about accepting personal responsibility.

Giffords said people who do things like that have "got to realize there's consequences to that action."

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Linn Washington is a co-founder of This Can't Be Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and problems in the news media. He teaches multi-media urban journalism at Temple (more...)

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