Sunday, January 9, 2011

Arizona Murders

A brief comment on the Arizona shootings. I observe American politics intensely, both through cable news and via the blogosphere. When I heard about the shooting I was shocked and saddened. My second thought was that I knew what kind of debate the murders would immediately trigger. The civility debate. Who is worse, the far left or the far right. Who is more irresponsible, the Tea Party or the far left people. I have very little interest in this debate. It is predictable and boring. What I do know is that there are a lot of eccentric people on the fringes of American politics. It is the responsibility of all mainstream politicians to put these people in their place, reign them in and never give them any encouragement, subtle or otherwise.

19 comments:

Lorcan said...

What about Sarah Palin's website which placed gun site cross hairs on a map indicating the area for which Giffords was a representative? The far right are tasteless at best.

Ted Leddy said...

Lorcan

Valid point. And there is no denying that in this instance we are looking at far right violence. It should not be ignored or dismissed as the act of a mad man. Giffords is a liberal congresswoman in a conservative state. That is why she was targeted. Sarah Palin was irresponsible.

Gary said...

Ted,
I am sorry but I think this kind of immediate association with politics is just wrong headed. I am not a Tea Party nor a Sarah Palin supporter by any means but to hold them responsible at this point before hardly any of the facts, including this jerks motivations, let alone his political associations are known, is irresponsible.

This rush to hold either the left or the right responsible for every tragic act does nothing but inflame passions and further divide the people. A little patience and understanding while the justice system does it's job would be far more appropriate.
Gary

Anonymous said...

"What I do know is that there are a lot of eccentric people on the fringes of American politics."

Granted. However, the instances of intense violence seem more often to be perpetrated by those on the extreme right, against the liberal left. This is not a coincidence. This will always be the case when you consider the values that the far right hold dear. The right to bear arms for example. By the very nature of the right V left argument, those on the right have included in their doctrine the right, and therefore the acceptability of bearing arms. So you are not comparing like with like here. Gun wielding lunatics are drawn to right wing politics. Book reading scholars are drawn to left wing politics. (at least in America anyway). So when the two go to battle, one side has inherent violence incorporated into its ethos. Its an unfair playing field. Did Sarah Palin really have a gun sight hovered over Giffords liberal county, on the map??? Good christ, did this really happen??? And to think we came close to having her as VP. Her mere existence is troublesome.

Eoghan

Gary said...

Ted,
With regard to the Crosshairs on the map put out by Sarah Palin’s office, I agree this was in bad taste but I do not believe the motivation in any way intended violence.

I think, in the interest of fairness, it should also be noted that there has been routine use of similar language and imagery by both parties in a culture obsessed with "battleground" states. In fact, a nearly identical map, included in a Democratic Leadership Committee publication in 2004, featured nine bull’s-eyes over regions where Republican candidates were considered vulnerable that year, and was accompanied by a caption reading: TARGETING STRATEGY. A smaller caption, beneath the bull’s-eyes, read: BEHIND ENEMY LINES. The map illustrated an article on campaign strategy by Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute (firmly left-wing). I can only conclude that both sides should be more careful about such rhetoric and stop this rush to finger pointing.
Gary

thesystemworks said...

I commented early this morning but it doesn't seem to have appeared.

I said that I think the Palin thing has been overblown and its unlikely it had any influence on Loughner's decision to commit mass murder.

Palin used military imagery in a political campaign to stop Obamacare.

Politicians have used the imagery and lingo of warfare to inspire the masses since time immemorial. Kennedy was great at performing a 'war speech without a war' as one commentator dubbed his inaugral address.

This tragedy has been usurped by those seeking to attack and demonise Palin and others. I'm no fan of the lady myself. However, former schoolmates of Jared Lee Loughner have described him as a leftist, and as far as I can see only the Daily Telegraph has published this fact in the UK. Not only did he own a copy of Mein Kampf, but also the Communist Manifesto. The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a left-leaning group has stated the man had no coherent political ideaology and he was never on their database of known extremists.

It would be an awful addition to an already terrible day in America if the anti-Semetic links of the killer turn out to be a significant motivation.

But whatever the motives (and there may never be a clear one, if the killer is just plain insane as the media coverage so far seems to suggest), it is a sad day in a democracy when a man feels he has to resort to murder an elected official to air his grievances.

Ted Leddy said...

Gary

These murders have caused a frenzy of accusations and counter accusations. In many ways I think it is a false debate promoted by the media because it is ratings gold. For example, we all know that a terrorist attack by Muslims would tend to help republicans at the polls where as right wing domestic terrorism generates sympathy for the liberal argument. This does not mean that either side promotes or encourages violence. They do have an obligation however to conduct the debate in a responsible manner. I believe this is especially true when it comes to the issue of guns, freedom and the big government debate. Because clearly some people seem to get a bit too excited about it. Your point about the democratic map with the bulls eye is valid. Perhaps the real issue here should be mental health and access to guns.

Ted Leddy said...

Eoghan

People on the far like to riot, and particularly at anti capitalist demonstrations, damage property. However not since the 70's has the US seen left wing terrorism with the "weather underground" movement and at that it was fairly minor. Left wing terrorism has been far more prominent in Europe over the years, particularly in Italy, Germany and Greece. So you are right, in the US violent right wing terrorism is worse. The most notorious incident of course was the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma which killed 168 people in 1995.

Sarah Palin did have such a map on her website. But as Gary has pointed out, so too did the democrats.

Ted Leddy said...

Eoghan

In the first line of my previous comment, "people on the far LEFT" I should have said.

Ted Leddy said...

TSW

Sorry you are having problems commenting. I think the problem is at my end. I'm looking into it.

As I said in a previous comment. This incident is causing a frenzy as people try to ascertain his motives and assign them to one side or the other in order to point the finger. The intensity of the debate is irritating me.

Paul said...

I can often think of a few politicians I wouldn't mind slotting. That irritating Salfordian Chatter box Blears and maybe even old Gordy. But then the dark moods lift and I realise the world is a better place with them in it just about. However if as TSW suggests there was an anti-Semitic element to this shooting, that is just too horrible to contemplate.

GW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GW said...

Hello Ted:

As to your opinion that "it is the responsibility of all mainstream politicians to put these people in their place," I think the sole lesson of this mass murder is that we need to do a far better job nationally identifying and getting treatment for the mentally ill. Beyond that, as far as "never give them any encouragement," I am loathe to make paranoid schizophrenics the arbiters of free speech in America.

As to the blood libel that the right wing is responsible for the culture of hate that led to these shootings, it is outrageous. Understand what is going on here. The right is NOT pointing at the left saying they are responsible - there is no cross fingerpointing going on here. This is purely an attack by the left wing operating a transparent motive to delegitimize conservative speech in America. The left did this in 1995 with the Oklahoma City bombing and it turned Clinton's presidency around.

It is outrageous. I welcome you to read the linked post below and follow the sites, particularly those that show the left is light years beyond the right in advocating violence - and I am talking real violence, not marks on a map - against the right. For example, one Congressman who advocated a few months ago that the Republican candidate for governor in Florida be "put up against a wall and shot" today appears in the New York Times pontificating on the need for civility in political discourse.

Please see: http://wolfhowling.blogspot.com/2011/01/motivations-for-murder-manipulation.html

Ted Leddy said...

Paul

I have always found your intense dislike of Blears and Gordy kinda amusing. I find myself asking the question that was asked in the movie "Fight Club". If I could fight one political or historical figure who would it be ? I think I would fight Harold Wilson. I just think I could take him !

GW said...

A follow-up, Ted. Where do you come up with your assertion that "right-wing" is the source of political violence in America? I'd like to see the facts underlying the assertion. As to the Oklahoma City bombing, that was the work of anarchists undertaken in response to Waco. There is nothing about that that is right wing. Which, actually, kind of proves my point made in the earlier comment about how effective Clinton and the media were in the aftermath of the bombing to pin it on the right. Never again.

Ted Leddy said...

GW

Thank You for your articulate comment.

When I first heard of this tragedy I did assume that this was likely an act or right wing violence as the primary target was a liberal congresswoman based in a conservative state. My assumption was wrong even though I still think that the specificity of the target (Giffords) is not an entirely irrelevant fact.


When I talk about the "responsibility of mainstream politicians", I am referring to the following realities.
Many people in America think there is a direct connection between gun ownership and protecting oneself from the tyranny of government intrusion. Many people also believe that the Obama agenda is all about taking peoples freedoms. I think it is the responsibility of politicians to put people straigt who might be tempted to take the wrong kind of action, as some in the militia movements appear willing to do. I believe this should be the case within reason because you are right, "paranoid schizophrenics" should not be "the arbiters of free speech"

In terms of the culture of hate, America has become more polarised between left and right in recent years. The political discourse in the US is looking more like that in Greece or Italy these days. I do not blame conservative speech for this. In truth I blame the ratings driven media that are constantly promoting the loudest voice. I believe to a large extent this is a manufactured debate. I did not hear any democratic politician blame conservatives for the murders in Arizona. Some left wing bloggers and a journalist in the opinion section of the NYT did. That was enough to set off this frenzy.

Thanks for the link, I will follow it up.

Ted Leddy said...

GW

On your follow up point. I did not say that the right wing is the source of political violence in America. Nor was I expressing an ideological conviction because I think left wing violence is far worse in Europe. But it has been my observation that in the US, left wing violence is limited to organised riots where as the right has the militia movements who rant and rave about ZOG and the federal government and so on. Such groups were behind Waco, Ruby Ridge and Oklahoma. You seem to think that such movements are not right wing. I disagree, although I have always thought that fascists and communists have more in common with each other than any divided democrats do. It seems to me that you are trying to defend the integrity of being right wing (by saying the Oklahoma bombers were not right wing). There is no need to do this as there is no connection between conservative right wingers and the militia mad men.

Gary said...

Ted,
I think that your comment "there is no connection between conservative right wingers and the militia mad men" is an excellent and important point. We need to stop using labels like "right wing" and "left wing" to describe people. Not all conservatives are republicans, not all republicans are conservatives and card carrying republicans shun the militias. They, in turn, dislike elected and government officials, regardless of political affiliation.

On the left you also have distinctly different groups (liberals, moderates, progressives and even communists). Gifford, Pelosi and Bill Ayers would be good examples of the diverse range.

Using a label such as right or left wing to describe someone is a waste of time because it tells you almost nothing about their specific beliefs. You might as well say they are male or female -or white or black. Being that general is also dangerous because it can lead other people to make a wrong assessment about the person.
Gary

Ted Leddy said...

Gary

Very valid point.

Personally I have always disliked being put in a political box. I have many opinions about many things. Why must I have a tag. We can really overuse the terms left and right. This debate has certainly done so.