As I said in my first post on the Arizona shootings when I posited that the shooter means "conscious dreamer" not "conscience dreamer"—I see no evidence that directly links Sarah Palin to shooter Jared Lee Loughner. Still, I add that we should be able to look at Palin's rhetoric and decide whether she is responsible and wise or callous and unfit for national public office.
I think that Palin has contributed to the climate of fear and anger with some incendiary rhetoric, and I've been saying so since she appeared on the national scene with John McCain in 2008. But people far more qualified than I am have evaluated her rhetoric as well. Anil Dash discussed Palin's use of language in his 2008 essay "What Sarah Palin is Saying." So, even though the media and bloggers are scrutinizing in particular one Palin message that features gun sights as the nation grieves over Saturday's Arizona tragedy, Palin's Take Back the 20 cross hairs campaign is only one loop on her rhetorical roller coaster.
I also have suggested that while Loughner may not have been influenced directly by the former Alaskan governor, his obsession with currency not being backed by gold seems a reflection of Glenn Beck's buy-gold punditry (God, Gold & Guns) and some of Palin's nonsense implying that the Obama administration, in a fit of "socialist" manipulation, is changing our money. I recall that back in 2009 even her Fox News buddies fact-checked her "coin conspiracy" wackery and found it wanting.
But also like Palin and Beck, Loughner worried about the United States Constitution and Americans lack of knowledge about it, a repeated concern of the Tea Party movement:
In December he (Loughner) posted on YouTube a statement reading, “The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America’s Constitution.”Two days before the shooting, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who Loughner shot in the head and the FBI says he targeted for assassination, read the First Amendment during a public reading of the document in the House, a ritual promoted by conservatives entering Congress who feel Americans are ignorant of the Constitution.
However, as I said in my first piece, both sides, the right and the left, are trying to associate Loughner with their opponents and make it stick. He is a registered Independent though and can't be pinned to one party or ideology. Furthermore, he is an unstable man, mixed up about what he believes in any way that would make sense to a rational personal.
Does an acknowledgment that Loughner seems insane and concession that no one can be blamed in a concrete way for the shooting other than him mean that we should not take time to reflect on the vitriolic, political rhetoric that's taken hold of the nation? Does it mean we ignore that Arizona seemed excessively crazy itself last year with xenophobic pitches and racist throes flooding rallies and the air waves?
No, we must observe; we must examine.
While Palin may be crying foul in email to Glenn Beck over people pointing the finger at her, she's fed her share of conspiracy theories beginning with her "Barack Obama pals around with terrorists" statements during the 2008 presidential campaign. Remember that.
And yet, I agree with Barbara Walters, who said Palin hasn't said nice things, but people shouldn't blame Palin for this incident. Well, I agree in part. We can blame Palin for her attempts to bolster the kinds of conspiracy theories that feed the madness of people like Jared Lee Loughner. She should choose her words considerately, get her facts straight, and craft her rhetoric more carefully. Her supporters need to face that.
In a clip near the end of this post from The View on ABC, the panel and its moderator, Walters, focuses on Palin's infamous cross hairs poster. As reported at Business Insider:
Elisabeth Hasselbeck then showed the NY Post cover from the very morning of the shooting -- which happened to depict Peyton Manning with his head in cross hairs. "Are they then to blame if, god forbid, anything were to happen to Peyton Manning?"Sherry Shepherd then made an excellent point that if after that front page someone had shot Manning, America would be asking the same questions about the front page as they are asking about Palin's cross hairs poster: was it a factor in the shooting?
I think it was also Sherry, or it could have been Whoopi Goldberg, who said people are focused on Palin because she may run for president. GOP strategist John Wevaver had a similar take, saying Palin is held to a different standard:
"You can't put the actions of this insane person on her doorstep or anyone's doorstep," he said in Palin's defense. But, he added, "having said that, there's a difference between how people judge the conduct of a blogger and a political leader or someone who may want to run for president of the United States."People are wondering whether her decision to publish and promote the Take Back the 20 cross hairs graphic shows she's not fit to lead the nation.
Remember not too long ago, Whoopi and Joy Behar were in the spotlight because they walked off the set of The View in October 2010, saying that some of conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly's language was irresponsible. Walters disapproved of her colleagues decision to storm off. An angry Walters said to the audience that Whoopi and Behar should not have left the stage, but then she turned to O'Reilly and told him that his language that painted all Muslims as culpable for the 9/11 attack was "extremist."
Now, I'm wondering will Bill in the future blame all young white males for the shooting in Arizona?
One of the saddest pieces of the Arizona shooting story is the death of Christina Taylor Greene, the 9-year-old who died and who was also born on the day of the 9/11 tragedy. Her brief life is something to think about, perhaps with her death we will see how fragile we are, how we destroy the future with ill-chosen words, loose gun laws, and reducing services to help the mentally ill. We humans are not as smart as we think.