Yesterday’s attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz – D) rings the same anarchist toll as many other recent circumstances of violent demonstration.
It’s bad enough that many of these attacks on human life only stem from protest against health care. What’s worse, though, is that they seem promoted by politicians, political groups and politically-influenced media – all of which are related to current mantras of the Republican Party, if not the GOP all by itself.
On January 8, Giffords was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head while at a public forum in Tucson. Six persons including a 9-year-old girl, one of Giffords’ staff and a federal judge were killed. Twelve others were also injured, including two other Giffords’ staff members.
Jared Lee Loughner, a Tuscon resident who was arrested for the incident right at the scene, is believed to have affiliation with American Renaissance, a white supremacist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic organization.
Giffords is Jewish, and also publicly criticized the immigration laws introduced in Arizona’s state government. Her congressional district includes the Mexican border.
Anti-immigration sentiments may also be behind the slaying of John M. Roll, the federal judge shot at the incident. Roll received many violent threats against him and his family in February 2009 after allowing a lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants to move forward in court.
This violence mirrors incidents from early last year. In just the first three months of 2010, 42 security threats to U.S. Congressional representatives were reported, ranging from harassment to vandalism and even death threats. The incidents were exclusively against Democratic Party representatives, and most sprung from conservative groups, including the Tea Party. Most stemmed from the debate on and subsequent passage of health care reform bills at that time, as well.
Giffords was included in this group, as the door to her Tuscon office was damaged after the Affordable Care Act passed with her vote.
“You’re dead,” “we know where you live,” and “we’ll get you” read the telephone and fax messages received by Rep. Bart Stupak after he voted for the act after conditional compromise.
Both Stupak and South Carolina’s Rep. Jim Clyburn received faxes that bore image of a noose.
Both Reps. Betsy Markey and Patty Murray got death threats by telephone.
Rep. Louise Slaughter received recorded message at her campaign office that threatened assassination and murder of “the children of lawmakers who voted yes” for the health care bill.
In Virginia, the gas line at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother was severed, seemingly to create fire or explosion. A Tea Party activist posted the specific residential address, mistaking it to be that of the representative, along with addresses of others who voted for the bill, on a blog advising readers to “drop by” their homes to express discontent.
The same blog site acknowledges it made encouragement to “break the windows of local democrat party headquarters(.)”
The national Tea Party Express, created by Republican Party operatives, also hosted public demonstrations that included display of violent messages pertaining to the healthcare act.
Marchers carried signs depicting images of a Browning firearm that read “Warning: If Brown can’t stop it, a Browning can,” referring to Sen. Scott Brown, who in 2006 voted for the public insurance program now used in Massachusetts while a state senator. Brown, a Republican, voted against the national healthcare plan the day after this demonstration.
Even new House Majority Leader John Boehner predicted that Democrats voting for the health care bill would be at risk, stating Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat from his same state of Ohio, “may be a dead man” for supporting the Affordable Care Act.
And Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn) issued statements that included violent terms as far back as early 2009, albeit on a different issue. “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax,” she said on radio interview.
One Republican official even praised violent actions of terrorist inclination. After a small-craft airplane was purposefully flown into an IRS building in Texas in February 2010, killing two, Rep. Steven King (Iowa) acknowledged anti-tax sentiments promoted by the far-right may have encouraged the incident, but attributed that act of terrorism to be a positive keystone: “when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day for America.”
Violence, assassination and armed rebellion were common themes in the 2010 campaigns of Republican organizations and congressional candidates, as well.
Such themes were at times only alluded to, such as in a combination gun rally and campaign promotion for Rep. Giffords’ most recent election opponent. “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly,” read the Republican candidate’s website.
Violent, if not anarchist, statements were directly made at other times, though. Stephen Broden, a Republican candidate for congress from the Dallas area, promoted government overthrow in his campaign, adding that “the option (of violence) is on the table.”
Broden also stated that “our nation was founded on violence,” and referred to incumbent officials as “our enemies, and we must resist them.”
A target-shooting event hosted by a Republican group in Florida was attended by its party’s congressional candidate, Robert Lowry, who joked about firing at a silhouette marked “DWS.” Lowry’s opponent in the race was the incumbent Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Tea Party/Republican candidate Sharron Angle twice referred to “Second Amendment remedies,” implying use of gun violence, to contest congress in general and her opponent, incumbent Sen. Harry Reid (Nevada), in particular. In the latter incident, Angle implied she was carrying a concealed weapon at that moment.
Even direct incidents of violence occurred at campaign events. Lauren Valle, a MoveOn member demonstrating at an appearance by now-elected Rand Paul, was knocked down and stomped on by Paul’s campaign supporters.
Website operator Tony Hopfinger attempted to interview Joe Miller, candidate for U.S. Senate from Alaska, but was held and handcuffed by Miller’s campaign staff, who took away Hopfinger’s video recorder. Part of the video was later found to be erased, Hopfinger stated.
Both Miller and Paul ran as Republicans with Tea Party support; Paul won the race in Kentucky, while Miller’s campaign was unsuccessful.
Culiminating awareness of the potential impact of these terrorist-like actions is none other than former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who issued statements and even images that are now connotated with yesterday’s mass-shooting and murders.
On March 23, just two days after the healthcare act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, Palin issued a rallying statement to her supporters. “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” she tweeted.
That twitter message directed recipients to Palin’s facebook page, which displayed a map (now removed) decorated with rifle cross-hairs to indicate the regions of particular Democratic congresspersons who voted for the Affordable Care Act, including Giffords’ district. The representatives were also listed by name below the map.
Conservative media appear to have influence on these incidents, as well, and not just through websites, such as the previously-noted blog that acknowledges encouraging vandalism against the Democratic Party, and which is also credited with encouraging an attempted assasination.
National media – namely FOX News, already known to blatantly provide slanted and false information to its viewers – is recorded to have encouraged public disorder, violence and terrorist-like acts, too. FOX commentators, in particular Glenn Beck, are often directly attributed to be impetus to baseless public demonstration, and even murder.
For example, an August 2009 forum on healthcare in Tampa, Fla. was interrupted by hundreds of angry protestors, many of whom stated they were inspired to demonstrate by a recent Glenn Beck broadcast. The loud and interrupting protests led to a fist-fight in the crowd.
In July 2010, a California resident armed with three weapons conspired to attack the Tides Foundation, but was intercepted by police en route. Two officers were shot in the incident before Byron Williams was captured.
Williams credits Glenn Beck as inspiration for his attempted terrorist action against the organization, a progressive non-profit firm that Beck claimed was destroying capitalism. “It was the things that (Beck) did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind,” said Williams in a later interview.
Beck had mentioned Tide Foundation 29 times on his FOX television broadcast over an 18-month period prior to the incident, and twice in the week immediately prior. Researchers found no other media to have reported any type of information on Tides in that same time period, and that the organization had only been mentioned two other times and only by one other FOX News host.
FOX commentator Bernard Goldberg was listed as inspiration of the 2008 shooting at a Tennessee church, and directly by the shooter. In a letter intended to serve as a suicide note, shooter Jim David Adkisson wrote “Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book” (100 People Who Are Screwing Up America). Adkisson, who had also recently read books by FOX’s Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, said he settled on that Unitarian church instead because it was too difficult to get to the elected officials and the church was too liberal.
In May 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot inside his Kansas church. O’Reilly made degrading comments, including “baby killer,” about Tiller on his commentary show 29 times before the shooting, and after Tiller made donation to a candidate for Kansas’ Attorney General who would oppose O’Reilly’s incumbent friend. Many media insinuated that O’Reilly’s regular identification of Tiller led to the shooting by Scott Roeder.
Richard Poplawski said that frustration with the possibility that Pres. Obama would take away his guns – a false story repeatedly run by FOX News, which Poplawski frequently watched – was the inspiration in his murder of three police officers at his Pittsburgh apartment in April 2009.
Gregory Giusti was arrested in April 2010 for threatening the life of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, an idea his mother said Giusti received directly from FOX News. Glenn Beck had once suggested poisoning Pelosi in a 2009 broadcast.
The common factor in each of these circumstances is its antagonist: far-right wing sectors threatening violence, encouraging violence, approving of violence, and engaging in violent actions.
The goal is the same, too: to protect personal political interests through restraint of public freedom, amounting to anti-equality, anti-immigrant, anti-public good, anti-progress … and anti-American, to boot. And all under the guise of a political sector that is revealing itself to be more and more anti-American every day.
Just over the last couple of years, last year especially and reaching a crest only yesterday, the far-right side of so-called conservatism has displayed itself as fascist. Corporatist. And terrorist. Making demands that take away personal freedom, and threatening – even taking – personal lives when those demands aren’t met. And taking away everything this country was supposed to be founded upon at its initial creation.
The Republican Party is a dying entity in the United States, dropping to only 22 percent of Americans who identify themselves as GOP and leaving it in third place behind Democrats and independents. What its far-right sector has been attempting to do over the last two years is keep a tight rein on government despite that minority presence.
And its done so by instilling fear and breeding anger in the same middle-class sector of the population the Republicans have abused. The media attention these fascist actions receive certainly helps its goals, especially when one news corporation in particular directly promotes and supports such fascism through purveyance of false information.
The GOP now has its public dirty work done by the Tea Party side. (When asked if his daughter, Rep. Giffords, had any enemies, Spencer Gifford sobbed “Yeah. The whole Tea Party.”)
It uses national media to reach unstable individuals and encourage them to conduct the violence that the Tea Party is too well-known to do itself directly.
And this equates terrorist activity by the same group that claims need to restrict American freedoms to protect us from terrorism.
But this recent terrorist-style mass murder must definitely set a limit. Turn off FOX News. Turn away the uneducated psychopaths who watch and believe FOX News. And vote out the Republicans who are responsible for all this garbage.
VIsit Rob Groce’s website and blog: www.rob-servations.com