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Violence was legitimized by Sarah Palin

By On

Palin extremism does have consequences. She will not learn from the tragic shootings in Arizona. She will genuinely be in denial and not have a clue - she and all like her. And there are those like her locally who use violent language. Friends of mine and I have been the subject of this violent language. And then some idiots take the language seriously and decide to do something about it. And people get traumatized, hurt, and killed.

The blame - the responsibility - is on Sarah Palin and those who use violent rhetoric. They do not pull the trigger but they inspire the idiots who do pull the triggers. To use crosshairs and name names on a map is either the work of a complete fool or the work of a very evil person. Sarah is no fool.

I went through a year - back in the 90s - with federal protection. I was in Bellingham, and it was because of my legitimate political actions. Other locals have told me of violence against them. The Herald is in denial that it happens in this county. There are, and have been, local elected officials who are aware of this and choose to ignore it. It is sadly common in many counties across our America.

What can we do that will decrease or eliminate political violence? We can do the truly American thing: tolerate and embrace our differences, our different values, and our different opinions. We can accept that we are all Americans. We can accept that even non-citizens have rights, are protected by our Constitution and laws, and deserve the benefits of our country. Sarah has made almost a fetish of saying rural folks are "true Americans," while city dwellers are some sort of lost goofballs, and liberals are the enemies of America. She, Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly and several others have poisoned our country. We will always have such hate mongers - but we should ignore them so they do not rise to such prominence.

Crosshairs. On U.S. Representative Gabrielle Gifford's district in Arizona. Posted by Sarah Palin last March. And now Gabrielle has been shot - just as the crosshairs indicated she should be. Shot in the head. And at least six others are dead. And a dozen wounded. Sarah does not have enough common sense to be elected dog catcher.

Some will not have a clue and will say Sarah should not be blamed. Those people are out of touch with reality. Some are tone deaf, some feel there should never be blame for anything, and some feel violent rhetoric is harmless. Over the next few months we will hear everything imaginable about how Sarah is not to blame, how the use of violent images is common in politics. They will be missing the point. Palin, Limbaugh, Beck and O'Reilly have taken the hate to extremes I have not seen since the McCarthy era. We can wish they would now dial it back. It won't happen. We will see this again. Welcome to the new decade.

Oh - and it is reported that Palin scrubbed the map from her website last night. Too late.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Paul deArmond

Jan 09, 2011

Palin’s cleanup squad is very busy now.

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Riley Sweeney

Jan 09, 2011

I would like to add that Sarah Palin is not alone on this. I think that Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and a whole host of others have weaponized our political speech which has a dangerous effect on the unbalanced. Bryna and I had a talk about if I should continue in this line of work if it is going to be this dangerous. We decided I should continue because we have faith that our community is a safe one. But we still had to have the discussion.

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Paul deArmond

Jan 09, 2011

“I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are - how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said in a nationally televised news conference.

He followed it up with an encore TV appearance Sunday, calling Arizona the “tombstone of the United States” for its lax gun laws and railing against “the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates.”

“To try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with,” he said, in a stern lecturing tone. - Washington Post

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Here’s video of Sheriff Dupnik.  The section quoted above starts around 5:50

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Showing no sign of tamping down on divisive political rhetoric in the wake of the shooting of 20 people that left six dead in Tuscon Saturday, the Tea Party Nation group e-mailed its members Sunday warning them they would be called upon to fight leftists in the days ahead and defend their movement.

TPN founder Judson Phillips, in an article linked off the e-mail “The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the left’s attack on the Tea Party movement,” described the shooter as “a leftist lunatic” and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik as a “leftist sheriff” who “was one of the first to start in on the liberal attack.” Phillips urged tea party supporters to blame liberals for the attack on centrist Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot through the head and is now fighting for her life, as a means of defending the tea party movement’s recent electoral gains. - The Atlantic

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I’ve seen a lot of denials regarding the influence of the violent rhetoric employed by various right-wing personalities in both politics and media.  I find the denials unconvincing.  I would like to pose the following question to anyone who thinks that the political environment did not play a role in this shooting:  What evidence would be necessary to establish a connection between this rhetoric and violent acts?

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Craig Mayberry

Jan 09, 2011

Come on guys, let’s be realistic here.  Please count me in as part of the clueless.  Part of the problem with the political debate today is this sort of crap.  To try to link Sarah Palin (or any right wing person) to the shooting in Arizona requires two major logic leaps.  The first is that the gunmen was a right wing person to begin with and spent lots of time listening and admiring Sarah Palin.  We have no idea on the politics of the gunman and anything we do know seems to suggest that he leans far left politically (not the type of person that cares what Palin says).  To make the connection you would have to assume that the gunman even knew of the Palin crosshairs map.  Just because you happen to know about the map, does not mean the gunmen or even a majority of Americans know about the map (the fact is most people do not even know or care).  You are making a logic leap across a divide that is way too wide and for which you have no proof. 

The second assumption in your argument is that Sarah Palin and the right wing is the only political presence using those types of metaphors or involved in hateful rhetoric.  The fact is the Daily Kos did a similar type thing and even ?targeted? Giffords as a blue dog democrat.  What is to say that the gunman did not get the idea from the Daily Kos.  The fact is that both sides are guilty of the same thing, so calling out Palin for something that the left is just as guilty about is very hypocritical.  I have read the Daily Kos and other left wing websites enough to know that they are not exactly pure in their analysis.  There are all sorts of hateful things written on those websites that quite frankly go far beyond anything I have heard on the right.  If you want to come down on Palin, then also come down on Olbermann, Maddow, Obama, and Reid, all of which have had some pretty heated and violent rhetoric over the last few years, all in the spirit of politics and frankly all beyond what Palin has ever said or done.  If you want to come down on the tea party, then come down on the anti-war movement in the Bush years that had many hateful signs and slogans targeting Bush.

If you want to engage in some logic discussion on the impact of the current rhetoric, then I am all for it.  But do not hide behind selective memory and logic leaps for which there is no proof.  It does not help the dialogue. 

Also, never claim that anyone that disagrees with your analysis is clueless, that is not exactly a great first step to making the debate more meaningful.

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Tip Johnson

Jan 09, 2011

Logical violence is a necessary antecedent to physical violence.  It’s a lesson we last learned in 1997 in Rwanda, where Hutus and Tootsies had shared traditions, cultures and language, but were separated by the unique ability to seize power, dominate and exploit, a power arbitrarily conferred by those administering colonial economic interests. A little public relations and around a thousand people a day died for about a hundred days in a row. 

Well, maybe we learned that lesson yesterday, too.

That’s all these radio and TV bozos are doing?public relations.  They are paid to do it by “persons” willing to seize power, dominate and exploit.  These persons don’t have bodies and are therefore not at risk from physical violence issuing from their logical violence.  They are discorporate persons, but ironically called corporations.

For them, it’s a long game of attrition and revision in a fluctuating context of petty elected governments.

Sorry, gotta go.  Fox news is on.

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Riley Sweeney

Jan 10, 2011

I would like to say, and hat tip to Craig Mayberry, that our local Tea Party has put up a big banner on their website condemning the attack. Bravo for them.

However, they have determined the shooter was a die-hard right-winger. He was afraid of government takeover and black helicopters, its all there. Glenn Beck style paranoia.

Last thought about this is when die hard leftest get really upset, we write angry poems, maybe do a sit-in or something. When die hard righties get really upset, they bring loaded guns to political rallies. That is a difference that cannot be whitewashed away.

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Craig Mayberry

Jan 10, 2011

Reilly, Reilly Reilly, there you go again making assumptions about a persons political persuasion with no evidence.  Great, he hated the government, just like many people on the left and right.  You claim it has been “proven” that he was a right-wing extremist, based on what evidence?  I have read most of the news reports and I have not heard anyone conclude that based on facts.  He hated government?  Does that mean that everyone on the left loves the government as it currently operated?  It is reported that he was a truther and thought the US government caused 9/11, a favorite talking point of the left.  One of his friends that have spoken out claimed he was a “left-wing pothead” person as of a few years ago.  It is reported that his favorite books on MySpace were the communist manifesto and Main Kempf, not exactly Palin material.  He was afraid of black helicopters so he much of listened to Beck and therefore is a Right-winger, I love the logical leap,  Unfortunately, in my academic world if I made such a logic leap I would be kicked out of the profession.  So far I discount all of these as being a little bit of a farce, but same with concluding he is a government hater so he must be right-wing.  I clearly understand why you and others on the left want to paint the right-wing as the culprit in all of this (I will elaborate on Tip’s points later today), but you do not generate much credibility when you do it with broad strokes and no real evidence.  I will ignore your guns versus poems analogy, it is not even worth getting into.

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Riley Sweeney

Jan 10, 2011

You are right, we don’t have a complete picture of his political views, but we can say that he was repeating several of the central theories put forward by Glenn Beck.

From the New York Times profile of the shooter:

“Still, some strands of recognizable political thought are woven among the more incoherent writings. Another video, for example, says debts should only be paid in currency that is backed by gold and silver.”

“he exhibited extreme paranoia about the government . . . repeated and frequent references to 1984.”


When we weaponize our words, they have a poor effect on the unbalanced. I think that is something we can all agree on.

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Riley Sweeney

Jan 10, 2011

Here’s a pretty thorough profile of the shooter.
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/01/what_we_know_about_attempted_gabby_giffords_assassin_jared_lee_loughner.php?ref=fpa

It talks about the FBI suspecting he was connected to the extremist American Renaiessance Group: “But, the memo states, “strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his MySpace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic.”

Aside from not supporting Israel, this sounds pretty straight forward.

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Garin Wallace, aka Wally

Jan 10, 2011

John, by the time I finished reading your post I’d lost a considerable amount of respect for you.  You seem to have without evidence, jumped to a conclusion about who
motivated or inspired this mentally unstable person to commit this violent act. 

Taking aim at the competition, target marketing, cross-hairs on competition, etc are a normal part of everyday marketing all around the world and not exclusive to Sarah Palin nor any direction left or right.  It would have been in poor taste for Sarah Palin to leave up these cross-hairs.  It’s also in poor taste for you to use this act of violence as a vehicle to spout hatred for Palin, Limbaugh, Beck and O’Reilly as you have done in this post.  In fact I’m a little disgusted by it.

And Riley Sweeney,  down even a few more notches for taking this in the gutter post and pulling it down the drain with baseless accusations of the political right.  Oh, and by the way I read a report that the shooter also wrote angry poetry. Should I ask if you are contemplating a gun purchase in the near future?

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Todd Granger

Jan 10, 2011

I believe it was a President(R), from Illinois who said;

Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory, which act embodied the policy of the Government upon that subject up to and at the very moment he penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it, he wrote LaFayette that he considered that prohibition a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should at some time have a confederacy of free States.

Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against us, or in our hands against you? Could Washington himself speak, would he cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy, or upon you who repudiate it? We respect that warning of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the right application of it.

But you say you are conservative - eminently conservative - while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;” while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rinciple” that “if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,” fantastically called “Popular Sovereignty;” but never a man among you is in favor of federal prohibition of slavery in federal territories, according to the practice of “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge or destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations….”

Shot by a Democrat, Good Friday 1865.

Todays model, shooting, because his House Member didn’t vote for Pelosi as Minority Speaker?

Wasen’t it Obama, making the statement “you bring a knife, we’ll being a gun.”

Sara Palin isn’t a President?

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Todd Granger

Jan 10, 2011

Let Facts be submitted to a candid world…

http://nation.foxnews.com/politics/2011/01/10/obama-flashback-if-they-bring-knife-fight-we-bring-gun

Its all Sara’s Fault?

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John Lesow

Jan 10, 2011

Following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, the Soviet news agency, TASS, reported that the president had been shot by “extreme right wingers”.


Liberal spin continues in 21st century America.  Sad to see decent people continue to rise to the bait.

The left wing media has ascribed the fault for the Tucson tragedy on—to use a historical comparison—the vitriol of Extreme Right Wingers.  Namely, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly and FOX News.  Sadly, this has been swallowed by many posters on this blog. 

Personally, I like you guys.  But good friends tell their friends when they are out of line.  And you most certainly are in ascribing responsibility for the current level of political vitriol to prominent members of the American Right.  Personally, I find columnist Andrew Jackson’s characterization of Congressman Michelle Bachman, FOX News and Rush Limbaugh as “accessories to murder” particularly despicable.
Disappointing that you buy into this line of thinking.

Responsibility for bad behavior is not excused by citing the bad behavior of someone else.  However…

The Democratic Leadership Committee used a map and targets identical to the Sarah Palin map produced in this article.  Palin used crosshairs.  The DLC used targets and bull’s eyes.

Same message.  Defeat the opposition.  Period.

Neither ad had any influence on the acts of Jared Lee
Loughner.  By all accounts, Loughner is a deranged psychopath with no ties to the Tea Party or blogs.  He prayed to a skull.
He formed his opinions about Congressman Giffords in 2007, before Sarah Palin reached any kind of political prominence outside Alaska.  In his writings, Loughner never mentions the TEA party, Palin or anyone on network or cable news.   

The Fort Hood Shooter, a Muslim with ties to a radical Imam,
killed a dozen people.  Remember any unfounded accusations from the American Right in the aftermath of that massacre?

In a TV ad, Democrat Joe Manchin is shown firing a high powered rifle into a target marked “Obamacare”.  Liberals OK with this message?

What about the movie, “Death of a President”, an art house production depicting the assassination of George W. Bush?
Any outcry from the left about that?  No. But I doubt if ou could produce and distribute a movie about the assassination of Barack Obama.  Now or ever.  Double Standard?  You bet.

This blog links to Al-Jazzera and the Daily Kos.  The former broadcast the beheading of Daniel Pearl, a Jewish journalist, a few years ago.  The Kos had a photoshop depiction of Joe Lieberman fellatiating George Bush on its website for over a year.

Using the leap of logic displayed by some of my fellow posters, can I assume that NW Citizen is anti-Semitic and supports a link to a pornographic website?  Any fair-minded liberals out there willing to defend Al-Jazeera or the Kos for their obscene, inflammatory behavior?

Of course not.  Not when FOX, Beck, Palin, et al are such easy soft targets for the misplaced channeling of political vitriol.

Sorry guys. The responsibility for this poisoned atmosphere lies at the feet of the American left.

Deal with it.

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Riley Sweeney

Jan 11, 2011

Points taken, gentlemen. What point is there in decrying demonization of our opponents as the root of this tragedy when we go and assign blame the next breath?

Lets set aside blame and see if we can find some common ground.

1) This is a terrible thing. (that seems easy enough)
2) The shooter needed mental health services, we should support our mental health safety net to help prevent these sorts of things in the future. (still with me?)
3) Someone this unbalanced should not have been able to purchase a semi-automatic. Our gun control laws failed somewhere on this one.

Can we agree on that common ground?

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Todd Granger

Jan 11, 2011

Yes Riley I will agree;

(3) Someone this unbalanced should have not been able to purchase a semi-automatic. Our gun control laws failed somewhere on this one.

“you bring a knife, we’ll bring a gun?” Vote Democratic Party!

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/433244_inquest12.html

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Paul deArmond

Jan 12, 2011

This thread is a good example of how it has become impossible to have a reasoned and meaningful discussion about the excesses and abuses the right has now made to political discourse.

The immediate leap to the attack instead of responding to substantive questions is exactly the reason why debate has degenerated into stupid shouting matches.  Worse yet, the thrust of that attack is based on a transparent falsehood:  the false equivalency argument.

Only the dishonest, the deranged or deluded would claim that right wing eliminationist rhetoric is the responsibility of their political opponents.  It’s factually unsupportable.  Here’s a little list of over a hundred incidents of violent rightwing rhetoric and parallel violence.  http://www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/guns-democracy-and-freedom/insurrection-timeline

While we’ve been waiting for Sarah Palin to come out with a statement about her campaign promoting a graphic that placed Rep. Giffords district in the crosshairs of a rifle sight, we’ve been treated to a diet of dishonest doubletalk from her minions about surveyors’ marks and maps.  Now Palin has had several days for her speech writers to come up with a statement.  Surprise:  it’s all the fault of her enemies.  http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/01/sarah-palin-accuses-journalists-of-blood-libel-calls-loughner-apolitical-video.php?ref=fpa

Finally, while we are dealing with the dishonesty and doubletalk on the right, let’s not pretend this isn’t a local phenomena.  Riley praises the Bellingham Tea Party for condemning the shootings. 

If you read down on the BTP homepage you will find:  ?Our elected officials should be afraid of us.? That?s featured pretty prominently in conjunction with a quote falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson:  ?When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is Liberty.?  The actual source of the bogus Jefferson quote is a Christian Patriot pamphlet published in Nevada in 1994 as part of the militia agitation preceding the Oklahoma City Bombing.

http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/When_governments_fear_the_people,_there_is_liberty…(Quotation): The Thomas Jefferson Foundation wiki article on false quotations. 

The Bellingham Tea Party wants elected officials to be afraid of them.  They like to crib bogus quotations from right wing terrorists.  And this has been sitting out in plain sight for anyone who wants to read past the front page of their web site.  It makes it more than a little difficult to take the recent condemnation of violence as heartfelt or anything other than self-serving deceit.  The Bellingham Tea Party condemns the attack on Rep. Gabriel Giffords and the Bellingham Tea Party wants elected officials to be afraid of them.  It?s a nice example of doubletalk.

Craig now seems to be saying that he and his compatriots can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality.  I agree.  That’s the problem with setting public policy based on self-serving delusions. 

When those delusion extend into the incitement to violence, it is a big problem.

When the way to address the problem is to continue to make false and self-serving attacks, it’s going to disqualify those attackers from being mistaken for responsible participants in political debate.

The majority in this country is fed up with the bullying from the right.  No more free passes for misconduct.

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Robert Mongue

Jan 12, 2011

Dear “gentle” nwcitizen readers,
I have to agree with John, Riley and Paul.
palin and her teabaggers have indeed legitimized violence. With gunslinging rhetoric they repeatedly condone violence. To quote palin ;“don’t retreat, reload” or her buddy bachman who recommends resorting to the second ammendment. In her video response to the crosshair map palin doesn’t muster even the slightest compassion for the victims in tucson. Nope, it’s all about her. The bs about blood libel is incredibly insensitive considering Giffords’ faith. Now is the time to flush the political venum and pray for the victims and their families.

ps john can you believe there could be a packers/seahawk nfc championship game?

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John Servais

Jan 12, 2011

Yep.  Robert is noting that if the Seahawks and Packers win their respective games this weekend then the Packers come to Seattle for the NFC championship.  I grew up in Green Bay and Robert is a long time Packer fan.  We both enjoy a good football game.  Sure is a great substitute for true violence - and that is its only relevance to this thread.  Hope this touch of levity is acceptable to all.  If one or both of them wins then a new thread will be started on NWCit. 

I encourage further comments on the issue of violence and politics to be tucked under Craig’s well posted question of Jan 11.  This issue has legs and will be a part of this website for a long time.

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