Full steam ahead. Rush Limbaugh continues the rhetoric unabated by suggesting Democratic Party supports Jared Loughner
I guess I am naive – I must be to think that following the devastating events in Tuscon the past weekend, that people would step back and think again about the political climate in America. Of course no one can be sure of the motives of would be assassin Jared Loughner but what has been plainly clear for everyone is that moving forward we can not surely continue with the rhetoric that has, although been a part of the political landscape for a very long, has become more heated over recent years with more prominent party representatives and “role models” using rhetoric which sits on a line of decency or non-decency.
I, following an article I read in the Huffington Post yesterday, wrote a piece calling for a Change the Rhetoric Pledge. You may have seen it – the graphic I put together, which links to the page (also seen on the top nav bar) sits on the right hand side of this blog – but no one, not left, nor right, has signed it of yet. Not one person.
And why, why should they? I mean it seems as if the events in Tuscon have not quelled the fire but added more fuel to it. You have the left saying that Palin has blood on her hands and the right claiming Jared Loughner has the full support of the Democratic Party. Yes I had to stop when I read that too.
Yesterday on his talk radio show, Rush Limbaugh, a controversial figure who often uses over the top rhetoric to gain a reaction from the left, made the audacious claim that Jared lee Loughner who had appeared before a Federal Judge to answer charges regarding the shooting on Saturday, somehow had the full support of the Democratic Party – all this based on a goofy grin the defendant had when he appeared in court.
“What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He’s sitting there in jail. He knows what’s going on, he knows that…the Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he’s just a victim. He’s the latest in a never-ending parade of victims brought about by the unfairness of America…this guy clearly understands he’s getting all the attention and he understands he’s got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he’s not convicted of murder – but something lesser.”
When I first read this, I had to catch myself or I would have thrown my whole “Change the Rhetoric Pledge” out the window in the space of 140 characters on Twitter. However unlike Mr Limbaugh I am not going to do that, I am simply going to argue with passion and civility why he is wrong and why he is reprehensible for making such a claim.
First of all I would like Mr Limbaugh, or any of his supporters to show me the exact time anyone from the Democratic Party has shown their support of Jared Loughner. Does Mr Limbaugh include the critically injured Democratic victim Gabrielle Gifford in this, or her supporters, her family, including her brother-in-law astronaut Commander Scott Kelly, who led a minute silence on Monday and spoke from space regarding the shooting.
“As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not….These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions but also with our irresponsible words. We are better than this. We must do better.” (BBC)
By making such a reaching and incendiary statement, Mr Limbaugh does nothing to quell the rhetoric stream. Granted it is not just him but at the same time, to suggest that the left, the Democrats are trying to deflect blame to get Jared Loughner off on a lesser charge is beyond absurd. No one is pointing out to the rhetoric that has infested American politics in an attempt to downplay Loughner’s actions and neither do they want to see him get away with his deeds. For goodness sake Mr Limbaugh, out of the dead and wounded, do not forget, a nine-year old little girl was murdered in cold blood! Or have you forgotten this?
By highlighting the crosshairs’ of Sarah Palin, or reminding people of the rhetoric Glenn Beck hyperbole, we do not do it to deflect, we do it because this event, this tragedy, has served as a stop sign to many people. How can America go on with violent, incendiary language, demonizing the other side of the political aisle after this event – especially when we remind ourselves that Gabrielle Gifford was a the subject of many threats herself.
Of course Rush Limbaugh is not the only person who has decided that the short-lived truce on the rhetoric is over. MSNBC launched an attack on their “rival’s failure to tone down the vitriol” (Media life Magazine) and some people on the left felt it clever to start a Facebook page entitled: “I hate it when I wake up and Sarah Palin is still alive” (BTW I have reported this page, it serves no good purpose). I wonder f the people who started that page raged against the Facebook page started by a right-wing supporter entitled: “DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN” [title posted straight from the FB page so all typo’s etc are the group authors].
However I will also point out, some right-wing supporters feel there is nothing wrong with starting fake Twitter accounts saying Jared is a Jew, even though there is nothing that yet suggests he is and besides so what? Does the creator of the page forget Gabrielle Gifford’s is of the Jewish faith? Given that the creator of that twitter account links to a website that is anti-Semitic, I doubt he cares too much. I was made aware of this when a Twitter friend and fellow blogger, who is Jewish, was sent a rather disgusting post which he has screenshot for me and allowed me to use on this post:
None of this helps, none of this solves anything. While people hoped that America would unite behind this tragedy, much as it had after 9/11, it seems that in trying to fling blame, the hope of a truce has been lost and the vitriol has become as much as and even more so, extreme.
It’s obvious Rush made his comments for an effect – even he is aware that Jared Loughner did not commit his murders to play one political group off against the other – one doubts he cares about it.
Loughner is the one responsible – there is no doubt about this. He deserves the full force of the judicial system brought down on him as far as I am concerned. The only thing that is clear is that someone failed a man who is without doubt, mentally ill – but that doesn’t mean he should not be held culpable – nothing yet suggests any illness he may have had made him any less of a cold calculating murderer – his last comments on his now defunct MySpace page show this, when he told his friends “Goodbye Friends … Please don’t be mad at me” (Goodis.com), but when one also looks at the posts he made from Summer 2010 onwards, you can see a person loosing a real gripe on reality (see screenshots here – please be warned they are very graphic).
Loughner is responsible, no doubt and again I call for Limbaugh to clarify exactly where any Democrat and which Democrats he includes in that charge have supported Loughner. And as to his allegations about attempting to deflect blame, although no link has been found to connect Loughner’s actions to Palin, Limbaugh or Beck et al, is still does not excuse their over the top rhetoric. After all if Sarah Palin felt her “target list” was fine why did she take it down from her website within an hour and a half of the shooting? She must know that it is wrong.
A cousin of Gabrielle Gifford has written an impassioned plea to Sarah Palin which you can read here: Dear Sarah Palin: A Gifford’s Cousin Speaks Out, and people have said they hope Mrs Palin responds with “as much dignity and respect as you [Paltrow] have mustered for her”. The cousin asked three questions of Palin:
Do you believe it is appropriate to bring about political change in America through the use of or threat of violence?
When you suggest targeting candidates, use gun-sight crosshairs to do so, and speak repeatedly about guns, locking and reloading do you mean that violence is or could be properly used to encourage or ensure certain outcomes of elections or legislative votes?
If you do not mean literally that elected officials should be targeted with rifles and threatened by political activists armed with loaded weapons, what do you mean? What should politically frustrated Americans do when their views are not prevailing?
I think these are important questions that one hopes Palin will answer, although she has today responded to the wider criticism with a video that charges against the “blood libel” her opponents are exacting upon her. Sadly Palin comes across as trying to blame the victim.
I still hope people will sign my pledge – although I have doubts anyone who agrees with Palin, Limbaugh, will do – although I am very ready to be surprised – but I do hope people can see the chance we have – even if people like Rush Limbaugh do not.