One year ago today six Americans were killed by a deranged gunman at a Congressional meet-and-greet outside an Arizona shopping center. In the rampage, Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and initially feared to be among the dead.
Ordinarily such an horrific event would bring all Americans together regardless of political ideology. Such sadness transcends politics, one would hope.
Instead, some on the Left decided to politicize the tragedy — instantly pouring salt on a wound for many conservatives who now were grieving twice — once for the victims, and again for their heroes who were having their reputations maliciously dragged through the blood.
As Jedediah Bila of the Daily Caller noted:
Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas tweeted, “Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin” with a link to an image of Palin’s “Take Back the 20” March 2010 chart, which featured surveyor symbols over the districts of twenty House members (including Giffords’).
And Toby Harnden of the UK Telegraph adds:
Paul Krugman of the New York Times suggests darkly that Giffords was shot because she was “a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona” and “violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate” (those reponsible for such a climate being, of course, Republicans).
TBogg of FireDogLake wades straight in and blames Sarah Palin for the shooting because of a graphic of crosshairs placed on the districts of moderate Democrats who voted for healthcare reform. …
Jane Fonda pins it on Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and the Tea Party.
When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
It didn’t matter to any of these ready accusers that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was apolitical at best, or perhaps even leftwing in his attitudes (and mentally ill, as judged by the fact that he was recently ruled incompetent to stand trial). It mattered not to the accusers that the shooter had stalked Congresswoman Giffords since 2007, fully a year before most anyone outside of Alaska had ever heard of Gov. Sarah Palin or the Tea Party was even in existence.
And it mattered not to the accusers that six innocent people lay dead, including a federal judge and a precious nine-year-old girl. This was simply an opportunity for hardcore partisans to smear a political opponent without regard for any facts.
I think all of us took away individual meaning from Tucson. I learned that this political battle is too difficult to go it alone, spiritually. I learned that people will stoop to previously unimaginable depths to slander someone they fear politically. And, in a way, I felt liberated. Because if you know that your political opponents will accuse you of murder simply for aggressively opposing their agenda … you know what you’re up against.
I’m proud of the way Gov. Palin responded to Tucson. Lesser individuals would have shrunk away under the slanderous onslaught. Instead, she calmly, firmly, and patiently defended the First Amendment and the right of all Americans to participate in public discourse. In an eight-minute recorded message, she expressed sympathy for the victims of Tucson, and also defended her right to free speech, as I noted here:
Governor Palin reminded us that political speech is fundamentally protected, and central to our nation’s enduring freedom. In quoting President Reagan, she reiterated that individuals are responsible for their own crimes, and rejected any notion of “collective guilt” that might be concocted as a libelous pretext to quash political opposition.
I later wrote:
By standing up to vilification, and refusing to be cowed into silence, Governor Palin gives us all a voice. She emboldens other mothers of young children to become involved in politics, and to shrug off the “slings and arrows” that come from challenging the liberal world order. She has shown us the way to equality by being tougher than her critics, and by exposing their hollow pretense of tolerance as just so much hot air.
As we reflect on Tucson today, my thoughts will turn to Christina Taylor Green, who was the youngest victim of Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage. The ambitious nine-year-old wanted to see democracy in action when a neighbor escorted her to the ill-fated public event. She had dreams of becoming a senator one day. I’ll remember her and the other victims, while also grieving for human cruelty in general, and praying for a world that can clearly differentiate between political speech and actual crime. I will be working just as hard in 2012 to fire Democrats and RINOs as I did in 2010. And I will remember Gov. Palin’s frequent “calls to arms” — and her reminder that taking up our “arms” means working toward VICTORY at the ballot box, as she told us in March of 2010, ten months before the Tucson tragedy:
And ya know, hearing the news reports lately, kinda this ginned up controversy about us, common sense conservatives, inciting violence because we happen to oppose some of the things in the Obama administration.
Interrupted from audience: “We do it with our vote!”
Amen, brother! That’s what you do it with, with your vote! You got it right. We know violence isn’t the answer. When we take up our arms, we’re talking about our vote. We’re talking about being involved in a contested primary like this, and picking the right candidate …
But this B.S. coming from the lamestream media lately about this, about us inciting violence. Don’t let the conversation be diverted. Don’t’ let a distraction like that get you off track. Keep fighting hard for these candidates who are all about the common sense conservative solutions that we need.
It doesn’t get any clearer than that …