Sunday Morning. Still Furious.

So my day was pretty much ruined yesterday by the news coming out of Arizona. Maybe you think it’s nuts that the attempted assassination of that state’s only democratic Congresswoman upsets a comfortable, well-fed editor in a different, more stable country. Fair enough. Then again, why shouldn’t I be upset?

First off, while I despise its international military adventures I like the United States. I like going there. I like its cities. I like the TV and music and (being a nerd) the comic books. I like many of its people — I’m related to some of them and unconfirmed rumour has it I’ve pleasantly wasted more than a few evenings playing god damned World Of Warcraft with likable, funny, chummy Americans. I even like some of the NHL squads quite a bit — regular dog blog readers know my team is the Columbus Blue Jackets (I even have the jersey). And there’s a U.S. newspaper or five that I skim online every day.

I feel like this bad, bad, political murder happened not to “some other country’ but to my friends and neighbours.

Second, while it appears the alleged killer is a deranged individual, a (somewhat) liberal politician was shot in the head (some symbolism there, no?). That right there distinguishes this from other massacres like Columbine. There will be a lot of punditry forthcoming to minimize this fact, and I want to make it clear that I am preemptively pissed off at it. And the politics at the wrong end of this apparent madman’s gun? Pro-health care. In a place filled with lunatic opposition to both. And if this offends people I’m sorry, but if you’re against the principle of health care for everyone regardless of income, you’re against humanity. Yes, there can (and should!) be arguments over policy details, because hashing things out allows the best ideas to emerge — but good, decent people do NOT argue over the universal accessibility of health care.

Thirdly, there will be a lot of blubbering about how this tragedy was caused by “divisive politics. No. This was not “divisive politics”. The blood is specifically on the hands of the radical conservative politics of the Republican party, and specifically on people like Sarah Palin. Palin, along with the capering, self-serving, Grima Wormtonguesque millionaire known as Glenn Beck, have employed violent, emotionally manipulative language and coyly stoked the fires of armed insurrection since the Democrats nominated a popular, charismatic black man as their 2008 presidential candidate. And health care pushed them over the edge. What the fuck kind of disturbed people oppose health care?

Let’s not kid ourselves here: the type of people who identify with the Tea Party are the types who, historically, would’ve been against women and blacks voting. They don’t want gay people marrying, they don’t want evolution taught in schools (because it’s “just a theory”), they don’t want their children to have access to birth control. Because of fear, they embrace ignorance, selfishiness and the language of violence.

The Tea Party is to blame for the degraded discourse that led to this murder, and  the movement needs to be universally excoriated and renounced.

Finally, let’s not forget that a smart, competent woman was the target, here. And one of the dead was a young girl interested in civics who’d been inspired by a female politician. In addition to a political act, this massacre was inherently misogynistic. But then again, with its opposition to female reproductive rights, social programs like child care, health care and welfare and the taxes that fund them, the Tea Party — which again, set the tone that encourages disturbed people to pick up guns and shoot lady politicians and children — is a misogynistic movement. Pretty darn weird for a movement whose de facto leader is female — but the psychology of bigotry, hatred and fear has always been murky and contradictory.

And that’s my two bits. Here’s Keith Olbermann’s.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

3 thoughts on “Sunday Morning. Still Furious.”

  1. Expect the same “he was crazy (but the bitch deserved it)” rhetoric that followed the Montreal massacre. I am going to tune out.

  2. Thank you, Stephen, for saying what needs to be said. Already I am hearing commentators in the media weaseling out of naming the forces that have reduced much of the politics in North America to vitriolic, you’re-with-us-or-you’re-against-us, hyper-“patriotic”, militaristic, jingoistic, ….. ARGH!

    The only thing you did not include was an indictment of Fox News Network, where their “commentators” have openly advocated violence against anyone who opposes them and their views.

    And don’t think the same influences aren’t spreading up here. When our own PM actively wants ‘Fox News North’ to counter any rational analysis of his/his party’s actions, and when our own PM uses the adjective “intellectual” as an insult – you know we Canadians are in danger from the same poison as well.

  3. I think all this railing against fox news etc. is missing the point. It’s possible, I guess, that the irresponsible political “debate” popular in the states and growing in popularity here provided this man his target, and the disgusting “constitutional right” to own and carry guns provided this man his weapon, but the way our society deals with the mentally ill dealt this man and his victims their destiny.

    As a society we don’t know how to deal with mentally ill people. If they’re also financially poor we tend to ignore them until they cause trouble and then we lock them up for awhile. Sometimes they cause a great deal of trouble. I don’t have a clue how to deal with this, but I think blaming fox news or even the tea party is akin to blaming this type of violence on video games, music, movies and maybe even comics. I doubt the people arguing tea party culpability are prepared to argue video games complicit as well.

    Meanwhile, back on the home front, we’re apparently going to pour billions into improving our prison system so we can provide even more housing for the mentally ill, after they’ve caused trouble. Maybe there are some people who are just plain evil and deserve to be in prison but I’ll bet the majority of them will be there because we just can’t ignore them anymore.

    On the other hand, if we could get a few jail cells ready for Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly, I’m ok with that. They bug me, that’s good enough.

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