Conservative political rhetoric,

focused most intensely on President Barack Obama and manifesting itself as racial slurs and threats of violence, are apparently involved in the massacre of six individuals at an Arizona political rally. An apparently deranged individual, likely motivated by inflammatory political rhetoric such as Arizona senate candidate Sharon Angle’s call to “Second Amendment remedies” should conservatives lose (as she did this past November), opened fire as a congresswoman met with constituents outside a grocery store. The gunman killed Arizona's chief federal judge and five others, and left the lawmaker fighting for her life. The shooting targeted Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, authorities said, and left the three-term congresswoman in critical condition after a bullet passed through her head. A shaken President Barack Obama called the attack “a tragedy for our entire country.” Giffords, 40, a moderate Democrat, narrowly won re-election in November against a tea party candidate who opposed her support of the health care law. Anger over her position became violent at times, with her Tucson office vandalized a few hours after the House passed the overhaul last March. More recently, at a Giffords event someone dropped a weapon out of their pants. MSNBC

It is worth noting the violent rhetoric and intolerant hate speech comes almost exclusively from the extreme right fringe, a group the Republicans courted and encourages out of their bee hives during this, the nastiest political season I’ve ever seen. Wall-to-wall attack ads, with Fox News profiteering off of stoking the flames of racism and hate masquerading as political debate. These wing-nuts wining political contests n overwhelming numbers was apparently not enough for this lunatic, whom no one has apparently informed the election is over. We should all be deeply disturbed by this tragedy even as we lift up the Giffords and other grieving families in prayer.

Arizona, home of the “Papers Please” anti-immigrant law and who initially refused to honor the national holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is becoming known as the Land of Intolerance. The state’s governor, Jan Brewer, appears, at least at a glance, to be completely unhinged. That she won reelection utterly baffles me as this woman demonstrates classic symptoms of paranoid schizophrenic megalomania. Now, I could be wrong, she could be a very stable and thoughtful persons, but in every run of video footage I have ever seen, this person comes across clearly and irrefutably as a nut case. The dilated pupils, the fractured speech, the inappropriate snickering and Nixonian gait: this woman is nuts. Two people have already died in Arizona and another 96 are waiting for a life-saving transplant they may no longer be able to afford after the state slashed money reserved for the procedures. One lawmaker said Arizona is now home to "death panels." And those whose names were on the list, those who will surely die without a transplant, found themselves in a state of disbelief. [CNN]. This despite the fact transplant procedures account for less than one-tenth of one percent of Arizona’s state budget. Brewer pastes on a creepy, disingenuous smile as she babbles like a third-grader, likely fussing through a Valium haze, defending her staunch opposition to show mercy to Arizona’s most vulnerable residents.

Christopher J. Priest
9 January 2011

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