This afternoon I watched on CNN.com a press conference about the shooting victims in Arizona. Thankfully, it sounds as if all of the survivors in the hospital are holding their own.
My heart has been heavy the past few days thinking about everyone affected by this tragedy. The victims and their families are in my thoughts and prayers. A lot remains to be known, but I have a few thoughts in the interim.
I find it interesting that, rightly or wrongly, the first place many people jumped to for blame was Sarah Palin and the violent rhetoric of some in the tea party. That’s the first thing I thought, and I talked to others who made the same assumption. Regardless of what she claims now, Palin put Giffords and other politicians in gunsights for “targeting.”
Now of course I don’t blame Palin for Saturday’s attack, but I do think she bears some responsibility for the toxic political climate that has been growing the past few years and has only increased since Barack Obama was elected president. And she can whine all she wants about the “lamestream media” being out to get her, but the fact remains if she hadn’t produced that ad putting Giffords and 19 other politicians in gunsights, her name would not be associated in any way with this tragedy. You don’t see Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney being dragged through the mud the past couple of days. Palin likes being painted as a victim, but this surely cannot be the type of publicity she wants to be connected to. Hopefully that will give her pause in the future and make her think twice about using gun imagery for people she wants to remove from office.
I also think that this qualifies as a terrorist attack, although you won’t hear that from traditional media outlets. The first place I heard the term was Abortion Gang in the essay Connecting the Dots: Political Assassination, Rep. Giffords and Dr. Tiller. But they’re right. The definition of terrorism: the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. It’s hard to argue that’s not what happened in Tucson on Saturday.
I hope the attack doesn’t succeed in its goal to destroy the democratic process. I’m sure many in Congress are wary now about holding open meetings with constituents, and some added security measures would be prudent. Maybe the meetings could be in buildings with metal detectors instead of the corner grocery, although that would make me sad. There’s something very appealing and accessible about being able to talk to your representative face to face about your concerns, and it seems likely that whatever security is implemented will make it harder for some residents to make their voices heard.