I've been listening to the news since the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the Congresswoman from Tucson, Arizona, and the killing of six innocent people and wounding of seventeen others at her gathering in Tucson. It seems to me that we, our news agencies and various spokesmen, are incapable of telling ourselves the truth. I'm not hearing the obvious. From what I hear, everyone appears to be side-stepping the issue. I hope the truth comes out as the investigation proceeds into the motivation for the shooting. I think we will have to take the word of Jared Laughner, the shooter, as the truth and I hope he tells the truth. I think we'll hear that the political hate-speech rhetoric motivated him to shoot Giffords. Can there be any doubt of that? Can there be any doubt about who speaks the hate-speech? Can we possibly deny to ourselves where the speech comes from?
What if he says that he's obsessed with Sarah Palin? Palin's website displayed an image of Giffords' district overlaid with crosshairs recently. Palin's spokeswoman said that the crosshaired-image of Giffords' district is not the crosshairs of a rifle sight, but the crosshairs of a camera. Really? How many people believe that? How many people would have immediately thought that the crosshairs were the crosshairs of a camera when first seeing the image? Wouldn't a rational person think "rifle sight" crosshairs? Or when Palin encouraged her Tea Party candidates to "reload" and keep fighting during the mid-term elections, is there any doubt about what she meant? Can we convince ourselves that she wasn't talking about reloading a rifle or pistol? But, of course she was talking about guns. Who can self-delude themselves into not believing that? If he claims he's obsessed with Palin, how can Palin deny that her rhetoric doesn't motivate or cause violence?
Or, what did we think when Tea Party candidate Sharon Angle, the Republican Senate candidate for Nevada, said that we should take a "Second Amendment solution" to those Democrats serving in Congress? The news agencies fully explained what she was talking about; the Second Amendment to the Constitution is the right to bear arms, weapons, and she was saying to use guns against members of Congress. Can we possibly delude ourselves into thinking that she was not saying that we should shoot them? Did we agree? Would we have voted for her? Proudly? Smiling or laughing in front of our neighbors, and, by the way, our children who undoubtedly learned a valuable lesson on hate and America? Doesn't it sound as if Sharon Angle is the one who is unbalanced?
Or, what did we think when Michele Bachman said that Democratic Congress men and women should be investigated for anti-American activities and views? Can we possibly delude ourselves into thinking that she wasn't calling Democrats in Congress anti-Americans, and that they should not be punished? Is that not McArthyism? Wasn't it hate-speech? Isn't it her view that is really anti-American?
Or, when Pam Geller started the Muslim hate campaign against the New York Mosque and Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and the entire Fox News fanned the flames of hate and millions got on that bandwagon and even Tobie Keith's anti-"rag-head," patriotic songs were played for all to hear, including our children. How many were proud to be on that bandwagon? Wasn't there a pause, a thought in the mind of those who jumped on that something was wrong? That the Muslim-hate wasn't what America stood for? Can we possibly deny that it wasn't hate-speech? Was it something to be proud of? Was that something we were proud to teach those around us?
I believe that to deny that Laughner wasn't motivated by hate-speech or that the hate-speech doesn't cause violence or to dismiss this type of rhetoric as "just politics," or saying that "everyone does it," and to be silent when it occurs, or to make any other self-denying excuse, makes us just as culpable and complicit in the act of violence as those who speak it and those who commit the act. We allow the rhetoric to continue. Our silence also allows those around us, our children, our grandchildren, our friends, to believe that this rhetoric is acceptable. We approve of the hate-rhetoric by our silence. Silence and denial allows us to deny the truth. We should be able to discern the truth. We should pass on the truth, even when admitting the truth is a confession that we've been lying to ourselves. I don't believe that Democracy and silence are synonymous or can exist together.
Isn't it obvious that those who speak the hate are not for America? Isn't it obvious that they are only doing it for their own gain? Their own riches? Their own ratings?
Are we not capable of telling ourselves the truth? According to much of the news over the past two days that seems to side-step the truth and not quite name the usual sources of the hate rhetoric, perhaps we're not. At least, you won't hear me approving the hate or staying silent about who encourages it.