Arizona Shootings a Tragedy Politicians Should Learn From

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is battling for her life after being shot at a constituent rally./Office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is battling for her life after being shot at a constituent rally./Office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

By Dennis J. Freeman

Words have consequences.  After two years of ramped up violence-inciting talk by former vice president nominee Sarah Palin and Right Wing Republicans, including those associated with the Tea Party movement, all those hate speeches, sadly and unfortunately, have now come into fruition.

The assassination attempt on Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ life will now surely haunt Palin and a Republican Party that have in the last couple of years come close to encouraging violence from their constituents in order to take back their country. To be straight, no Republican leader have come out and said let’s take down a Democrat with violence.

But Palin and the Republican Party have come as close as one associated with American politics has come with their fiery and incendiary language at rallies and events where gun-toting supporters show up.

While she didn’t pull the trigger that left 19 shot and at least six people dead, including a federal district judge and a nine-year-old girl, Palin can officially kiss goodbye to any type of presidential aspirations she had.

 To run for public office, one must show respect, restraint and responsibility for the constituents they are preparing to serve and to their opponents. Since she burst into the national spotlight as Sen. John McCain running partner in the 2008 presidential election, Palin has shown none of these traits.

The former Alaska governor’s language on the campaign trail for the last couple of years has been nothing short of dangerous and approached levels of riot-baiting. Just because the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution grants us the privilege to exercise free speech that does not give an elected official or ex-office holder like Palin a license to spew hate and entice others to act on it.

Former vice president nominee Sarah Palin, shown here with Anthony Imperato, president of Henry Repeating Arms, has been criticized for violence inciting speeches./Photo Credit: PRNewswire

Because when you do, all it takes is one nutcracker like 22-year-old Jared Loughner, who shot up Giffords’ constituent meeting at a Safeway parking lot to take those words to an extreme level. There are people out there who are saying to blame Palin for this wicked act of violence is not fair.

It wasn’t fair for Palin to put Giffords on a map list that featured a rifle scope crosshairs with 19 other Democrats for Tea Party members and the Republican Party to go after because of their support for President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill.

It wasn’t fair for Palin to say during the 2008 campaign trail that President Obama “pals around with terrorists.”  Nor was it fair to Giffords when her Tea Party opponent-Jesse Kelly-invited his supporters to take part in a “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly” rally last June, which was first reported by the Arizona Star and later posted on LIBERALAND.

Palin’s most famous violence-intoxicated rant of, “Don’t Retreat, Instead, Reload” drew sharp criticism and rebuke from the political left and right. The political climate around Capitol Hill has created an atmosphere of contempt and an overzealous spirit among the American people where civility is no longer considered an option.

Distrust, skepticism and hostility have replaced common sense, understanding and goodwill towards our fellow Americans.   

When our elected officials spew hate, people will follow. When those same public servants are able to exhibit sound judgment and display a civil tone of communicating with those with different ideologies, the American people will take that cue.  If we are unsuccessful in operating under this mantra, we will see more tragedies like the one that took place in Arizona.   

In an interview with MSNBC last March, Giffords touched on that subject.

“Community leaders, figures in our community need to say “look, we can’t stand for this.”  This is a situation where — people don’t — they really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things, for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list.

“But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district.  And when people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1064 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.