The unraveling of the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona over the weekend warns us against inciting the threat of metaphorical violence in politics to achieve literal ends. Sarah “Don’t Retreat, Reload” Palin placed herself in the center of the assassin’s intention with her despicable — and clearly terroristic — weaponized “map” of targeted Democrats, that included Gabby Giffords, placed in gun scope crosshairs on her Facebook page. In the wake of the shooting, the map has been removed.
One of the targets — whose district was marked with the crosshair graphic — is now fighting for life in hospital after she was shot by a crazed gunman on Saturday. Earlier this month her office in Tucson, Arizona, was hit by shotgun pellets.
Gabrielle Giffords had criticised Mrs Palin for using the gun graphic in a TV interview saying: “When people do that, they’ve got to realise there are consequences to that action.”
Of course, now that Giffords has been shot, and Palin’s rhetoric is now a terrible reality that is coming back to destroy and haunt her — and cancel a second season of her “reality” show — the backpedalling by the Palin forces begins in force:
MANSOUR: I just want to clarify again, and maybe it wasn’t done on the record enough by us when this came out, the graphic, is just, it’s basically — we never, ever, ever intended it to be gunsights. It was simply crosshairs like you see on maps.
BRUCE: Well, it’s a surveyor’s symbol. It’s a surveyor’s symbol.
MANSOUR: It’s a surveyor’s symbol. I just want to say this, Tammy, if I can. This graphic was done, not even done in house — we had a political graphics professional who did this for us.
The Palin faction expects us to believe that Sarah placed “surveyor’s symbols” on that Death Map and not gun scope crosshairs? Ridiculous! Why remove the map from Palin’s Facebook page if there’s nothing wrong-intentioned in its graphic crosshairs display?
Even Sarah Palin doesn’t believe that as evidenced in this preserved Tweet from Nov. 4, 2010, where she excitedly reminds us of her “bullseye” and “target” successes — suspended in amber on the internets:
No one is saying Sarah Palin should be viewed as an accomplice to murder. Many are merely saying that her recklessly violent and inflammatory rhetoric has poisoned the discourse and has long run the risk of empowering the deranged. We are saying it’s about time someone took responsibility for this kind of rhetorical extremism, because it can and has led to violence and murder.
The facts, moreover, are these: Palin singles out Giffords as a “target” for attack, illustrated by cross-hairs in gun sights, and urges supporters to “reload”. This is pointed out at the time and Giffords herself worries that it took things over the edge. Palin had a chance to apologize or retract or soften the rhetoric. She did nothing of the kind. An individual subsequently guns Giffords down. What more, in many relevant respects, do we need to know than this?
Sarah Palin will have a lot more Facebook scrubbing to do in the days and months to come as she continues to try to repress the truth of her dastardly, public, behavior — and let’s hope her 15 minutes are finally over — and we can all move forward together again into a better, less violent, America that all of us want, but few of us are brave enough to fight for in the back spatter of an assassin’s Glock.