When I was young, I went to summer camp. It was a camp for disabled children and it was our escape from the harsh reality of our lives. The counselors were all older than us and Children of the 60’s. All day, we would be outside playing softball, swimming in a very cold Lake Huron and just having a grand time. We would all eat in a huge dinning hall with the camp director (a man we all called Skipper) and afterwards, we would clean our plates with milk and stuff the leftovers into milk cartons. We would sing camp songs and fight songs of Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana (Skipper, who’s real name was Jim Tatlock, was from West Lafayette, Indiana).
At night, on special occasions, the older campers would get a “late night.” So, we would get marshmallows and Graham Crackers and make smores and sing songs. Sit next to our friend or favorite counselor. One of the songs we would sing was an old folk song that was redone during the 60’s anti-war movement by Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and others. It was called “Where have all the Flowers Gone?” Anyone over 50 knows the song. It is about the senselessness of war and the emptiness of losing someone in war.
America is at war. With itself. Has been since it was founded. “In order to form a more perfect Union” reads the preamble of the Constitution. Between 1820-1860, there were several incidents that led to the Civil War, where 600,000 were killed. And then, five days after the end of the war, President Lincoln was assassinated by a failed actor (aren’t we all at one point in our lives?). Ninety-eight years later, in Dallas, Texas, President Kennedy was struck down by a patsy named Lee Harvey Oswald. In the years that followed, the Loraine Hotel in Memphis, the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, a parking lot in suburban Maryland all became synonymous with assassinations or attempted assassination of a civil rights leader and two Presidential candidates.
In 1981, on a Monday, a day like any other day, President Reagan was shot. He had been in office less than 90 days. The person who shot him was a obsessed fan of the movie “Taxi Driver,” and the actress who played the young hooker, Jodie Foster. Reagan survived but his press secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the head. Brady survived but was disabled and has spent the past 30 years in a wheelchair. Like me.
Saturday morning in Tuscon, Arizona, a young man walked up to a table outside a Safeway Supermarket and for some unknown reason shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head at point blank range. He then opened fire on several others in the crowd. In a matter of seconds 20 people were shot, six died, including a staff member to Giffords, a Federal judge and sadly, a 9-year old girl who had just been elected to her student council.
Lets get one thing straight. It’s about language and pictures and people who talk nonsense and incite people to do this and other acts of stupidity. It’s about Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the polarizing words they use and Fox News and the misinformation of internet bloggers and people with a webcam and folks who say we want our country back and those who consider President Obama to be a socialist, communist, the Antichrist, or, horrors upon horrors, he wasn’t born here.
Last year, Congress accomplished the impossible. It passed Health Care Reform, something that had never been done before. Ms. Giffords voted for the bill. In the aftermath, her local office was vandalized and a gun was dropped at a Town Hall event. Last March 25, she appeared on MSNBC and said the following:
“We need to realize that the rhetoric, and the firing people up and for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s ‘targeted’ list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted, we’re in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action.”
Ah yes, the Half-term, half-wit. Last year, in the wake of the health care law being passed, Palin posted a page on her SarahPAC website called “Take back the 20.” It “targeted” 20 districts who’s members had voted for “Obamacare” as Palin and others refer to it. All of the districts had crosshairs on it and the names of the Democrats who voted for health care reform. Saturday, after the shooting, the page was taken down and both Palin and her staff were left scrambling and issuing weak excuses for the website.
Here is the story from the Huffington Post:
The aide said it was “never intended” to be violent, but Palin’s own words seem to contradict that.
But that’s not important right now (Jeff). Have the Beck’s, Hannity’s and O’Rielly’s (and their rabid followers) finally seen the errors of their ways? I doubt it, from what I’ve heard this morning. Sharon (Second Amendment remedies) Angle, haven’t heard a peep out of her. Jan Brewer, the embattled Governor of Arizona, was moved to tears in describing what had happened, but still couldn’t bring herself to mention the President by name. (Frank Luntz must be very proud)
The Republicans and the Tea Party always have built-in excuses at the ready. So does Fox News and Rush who needs to be Flushed. “Oh don’t blame us, we are just entertainers.” Here is more evidence of American terrorism and hate speech: http://www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/guns-democracy-and-freedom/insurrection-timelinehttp://www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/guns-democracy-and-freedom/insurrection-timeline
And they talk about hate from the left? I don’t see it. Since taking office, President Obama has received 400% more death threats than any President in the past 50 years. I have said this before and will say it again. We have become an increasingly isolated, paranoid, fearful, resentful, and polarized society. It is like the Germans and the French in World War One and we have become so entrenched in extreme positions and there’s the no-man’s land in the middle.
The internet has a lot to do with it, of course, but the media seems to want to keep us afraid of everyone and everything. It’s just the way we are today. “Everyone is hiding something and you can find out on Local 4 News at 5, 6, and 11.” We have become a society of Chicken Little’s and in doing so, all we do is talk at each other, not to each other, or with each other.
The most telling and compelling statement to come out of Saturday’s events had to come from Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who said
“Let me say one thing, because people tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”
“I want to tell you right now that people like myself are very, very angry at what’s going on in our country, and I think that it’s time that we take a look at what kind of hatred that we inflame by all the crap that goes on. I’m a close friend of Gabrielle Giffords’, and she is one of the most beautiful human beings that you can imagine. I think it’s time that this country take a little introspective look at the [inaudible] crap that comes out on radio and TV. ”