Sunday, January 09, 2011

Second Thoughts

I selected this article for my Sunday post before the tragic shooting in Tucson yesterday. I do my visit to Watching America early on Saturday because my Sundays are usually filled with chores. Ironically, the article from Austria's der Standard deals with the Tea Party, a loosely-knit segment of the American electorate which is being linked to the shooting because of its strong stand on the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms and because some of its chief proponents have pushed the limits of free speech far beyond the usual definition of civil discourse.

Here is the segment I wanted to highlight before the news of the shooting:

Many of the newly elected House Republicans are tea partiers, and they will need time to get acclimatized and to learn the ropes of how Washington operates. There’s obviously a danger that the tea partiers will have to play games in order to accomplish anything. But at the same time, they can’t afford to follow a course of fundamental opposition, because that doesn’t go over with voters. The American political system is set up in such a way that they have to accomplish things for the voters; otherwise, they won’t get re-elected. The tea party candidates will be held to that same standard. Beyond that, the movement is highly splintered in regard to their goals. Some are social conservatives opposed to abortion and fetal research, while others are fiscal conservatives who don’t want big government. [Emphasis added]

My point was going to be that the Tea Partiers were going to learn the lessons liberals are still learning that once in Washington most candidates forget who got them there. The new congress critters need to make their bones not with their constituents but with those who will finance the next election. Oh, they will blow a few kisses to the people back home: they'll read the Constitution before proceeding, they'll issue sound bites about cutting programs which benefit the lazy unemployed, and then they'll pass bills to benefit their donors.

That said, I can't help thinking about Gabriella Giffords and Federal Judge John Roll and the other victims of the shooter who took out at least 18 people (six dead, of whom one was a child, as of 5:00 PM, PST). The shooting took place at a "town hall meeting" the congresswoman had set up. The accused shooter went there, apparently deliberately, to dispense his brand of justice.

Why the link to the Tea Party?

Well, Sarah Palin, the GrandMama of the Tea Party, had targeted Congresswoman Giffords as one who needed to be defeated in the 2010 elections. Palin used a graphic appropriate to the concept of "target": a rifle-sight cross-hairs across a picture of Giffords, a graphic since removed from her Facebook page.

Now, at least at this point, there is no definitive link between the shooter and the Tea Party. He looks to be a seriously deranged young man. But the rhetoric of such as Palin and Glenn Beck, laden as it has been with the language of violence ("Don't retreat, reload") could very well have given the shooter the impetus, the permission he needed to act out his fantasy.

As much as I loathe the corporate interests which created the Tea Party movement, I doubt that the members of that movement had in mind the kind of literal violence that the rhetoric has spawned. But the violence has occurred. People are dead and maimed. And I fear that the violence will continue. Guns are that easy to get.

I also know that the mainstream media will downplay any connection between the right wing rhetoric and the deaths that occurred January 8, 2011, that the shooter will be seen as another Lee Harvey Oswald or Sirhan Sirhan or James Earl Ray: crazy, and therefor irrelevant.

And I fear that the noble experiment known as the United States will end dismally.

Kyrie Eleison



Anonymous the talking dog said...

And I fear that the noble experiment known as the United States will end dismally.

We had a good run, I suppose, but all empires-- intrinsically one-sided affairs that they are-- do have to come to an end eventually. The need for our gun-culture-- farm team as it is, of course, for the professional military now deployed in some manner in around 2/3 of the countries of the planet-- will occasionally have some unpleasant "collateral damage" at home, such as the occasional massacre. Oh... the unpleasant jingoistic (and occasionaly eliminationist) rhetoric seems necessary for the same reason: the professional military needs to be stoked, and it needs to be feared--both at home, and abroad.

It seems unlikely to me that the moral and social cost of the intrinsic violence of our culture and its need to maintain a military that preserves its global empire... will finish us off before the plain old financial cost of maintaining such an enterprise does it first... particularly since at some point, we'll run out of petroleum, and no one will sell it to us, and even our threats of military force... are based on readily available petroleum to back up the threats.

It seems almost poetic that poor, pathetic, miserable Afghanistan-- the poorest country on Asia-- will likely manage to do in the empires of both of the Twentieth Century's mighty super-powers...

The murderer in Arizona appears to have been a most unstable young man... in a hateful society where it was probably far more difficult for him to get adequate treatment for his mental health issues than it was for hi to get combat-quality fire-arms and murder people he didn't know.

I fear "the noble experiment" is already over; when the rest of it goes... could be any time now.

3:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home