John Roll, 63
Dorothy Morris, 76
Dorwin Stoddard, 76
Christina Greene, 9
Phyllis Scheck, 79
Gabe Zimmerman, 30
Yesterday in Tucson, six people were murdered, 14 more were injured, and hundreds, no thousands, of people went to sleep with a deep void in their lives that wasn't there when they woke up in the morning.
People all over Tucson, Arizona, and the country, in their pain, grief, anger, and stunned bewilderment, searched for understanding, for answers to the question "why?".
One of the first places that most folks focused on was the rhetoric of hate and violence that has permeated political discourse on the Right.
Whether it was the threats to members of Congress during town halls during 2009, Sharon Angle's "2nd Amendment remedies," Sarah Palin's crosshairs on 20 Congressional districts, including Giffords', or the campaign rhetoric of Jesse Kelly, Giffords' 2010 challenger - "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly" (pics below, courtesy Blog for Arizona as the original web pages have been taken down or scrubbed), demonization and threats of violence have become the standard campaign talking points for the Right.
Now, Right-wing politicians and talking heads are seeking out cameras and reporters to decry the "politicizing" of a "senseless" act of violence.
Whether it is David Schweikert, the recently elected U.S. Rep for AZ5, saying that it isn't time to "play politics," Congressman Trent Franks (R - AZ3) going on MSNBC to protest any implication that politics could be behind the shooting (no link, but it was stated during an interview on Saturday), State Rep. Carl Seel (R - LD6), a former/current? Minuteman going on camera to say that while the violent actions were deplorable, it's no reason for 'leaders' like him to "dial down their passion," or any of dozens of other talking heads on Fox News and elsewhere, they're all declaring that violence shouldn't be politicized* and that this act was perpetrated by a single crazed individual.
Of course, none of them are noting that most suicide bombers in the Middle East could be considered "crazed individuals."
That's different after all - violence committed by people who have brown skin, a funny accent, and a live in a different country, well, that's terrorism.
Violence committed by people who have white skin, an American accent, and live in a reasonably affluent section of Tucson, well, that's just insanity.
It's time for the gloves to come off.
No more giving a free pass to the likes of Seel, Russell Pearce, Jack Harper, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or the rest.
No more listening to their rantings and just chuckling and saying "that's our _____" before going off to something else.
No more ignoring their ravings in favor of working up detailed, rational, well though-out policy positions. Civility and rationality only work if both sides in a political discussion are civil and rational.
It's time to call them on *every* hate-filled or violence-laden piece of rhetorical bile spewed by them, electeds, candidates, and talking heads alike.
It's time to shine the harsh light of public scrutiny of their ties to hate groups (yes, that's you Russell Pearce) and their acts to further the agenda of hatred and fear.
* = Fox News really pisses away any of its remaining journalistic credibility when it has the likes of former Congressman/current radio talk show host/perpetual hatemonger JD Hayworth on to whine about the "politicization" of yesterday's murders, and then equate those killings with the unsolved murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, whose death has been co-opted by the Right to buttress their anti-immigrant efforts.
Note: While I still can't stand her politically, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer may have come off as the best of AZ's Republicans in the aftermath of yesterday's tragedy. She seemed genuinely upset during her press conference at the Capitol yesterday. That's far different than the likes of Franks, Schweikert, et. al., who seemed more concerned about the politics than the victims.
Some may believe she was just performing for the cameras, but anyone who saw the debate this past fall knows that Brewer just isn't that skilled a performer.
Note2: According to reports from the Arizona Guardian and elsewhere that confirm something that I heard at last night's candlelight vigil at the AZ Capitol, Monday's scheduled State of the State address by Brewer before a joint session of the legislature will be postponed, though she will offer a brief, somber, address on Monday. Attendees should expect heightened security and should plan for delays (in other words, don't show up at 1:40 p.m for the scheduled 1:45 p.m. address).
Note3: Stunned is the still the best word to describe how I am feeling right now, more than a day after the massacre. Based on what I've heard from others, that's a pretty common state right now.
I expect it will be for a while.