This is a day we won’t soon forget. This is a tragic day in our nation’s history without question. I mean, you can’t go to the Safeway anymore without some nutjob trying to shoot up the neighborhood. I know you join me in praying earnestly for the 18 victims of the shooting, their families, everyone who was at that Safeway — and for the shooter, who is clearly a sick and disturbed young man.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) just barely held onto her seat in the last election winning by less than 1.5% of the vote in Nov. It was a contentious race obviously in a relatively conservative district. She’s a moderate who nevertheless has supported the President’s agenda during her last term in Congress including comprehensive immigration reform.

Gifford and another member of Congress from a nearby district, Rep. Raul Grijalva have received threats before. And more than threats — there’s been violence at her Tucson office after she voted in favor of healthcare reform.

In addition, Sarah Palin listed her on her “target list” during the election including crosshairs using messaging around healthcare. If I was one of the people on that list, I’d be asking the FBI and Secret Service for extra protection for realz. No joke.

The right wing is looking hard to distance themselves from this guy and yet it’s clear that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, had absorbed some of the Tea Party’s messaging. In the video below, Loughner advocates for a new currency, expresses concerns about non-English speakers in Giffords’ district and talks about the “revolutionaries” in the current government. Terrifyingly, he also describes himself as a U.S. Military recruit which echoes prior fears of right wing violence rampant in the military (apparently he applied and thankfully was rejected for service). You’ll recall there was a lot of critique re: a 2009 Homeland Security report warning of increasing right wing extremism. Hmm…maybe we should all be taking another look-see at that.

To quote, he says (among other things) in his crazy rant (starting around 3:07):

The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America’s Constitution.

You don’t have to accept the federalist laws.

Nonetheless, read the United States of America’s Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.

You’re literate, listeners?

[...]

The property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution.

Thus the revolutionary’s from the revolution are in control of the land and laws.

[...]

No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!

Any of that sound familiar from the rhetoric of Palin, Beck, Bachmann, Limbaugh, Angle ad nauseum? Oh and the currency thing, just yesterday we learned that a conservative representative in Virginia’s state house is advocating that VA mint its own currency in gold for fear the Federal Reserve might collapse given the “profligates” running our government. Which is strictly forbidden in the Constitution and nakedly secessionist in bent since nothing like that has been done since the Civil War.

Sarah Palin is among the leaders of the Tea Party’s gun-laced speeches with tweets like “Don’t Retreat, Reload”. Her very image is inseparable at this point from holding a rifle or shotgun.

Jesse Kelly, Giffords’ opponent in the election held an event that was gun-themed to attract voters. That’s what some of these people really think when they aren’t censored. That they’re going to take back their country even if it requires gunfire.

It’s a fine line from words to action and it’s time that the GOP and Tea Party take responsibility for their hard-line, unpatriotic, hate-filled & violence-tinged rhetoric. It’s past time to dial it down before more people are hurt and killed. This is part of a troubling pattern of violence we’ve seen since Obama was elected.

It’s easy, far too easy to say oh, it’s just another lone gunman shooting up a gym full of women or the Holocaust Museum or just one crazy man flying his plane into a government building over taxes. But all the violent actions of protest start to add up IMHO. I think we all suspect that if Jared Lee Loughner had a Muslim-sounding last name that the mainstream media coverage would have a much different tone about his background, beliefs and motivations. I mean, let’s not generalize about large groups of people based on Loughner’s actions, unless it turns out he’s Muslim. Or hangs out with Muslims. Or thinks it’s ok to build a mosque in NYC within 5 blocks of Ground Zero.

It is my sincere hope that this is a wake-up call to those pushing extreme heated positions and winking at white supremacism. Let’s work harder as a nation to find common ground, speak on both sides with greater respect and exercise tolerance in the great melting pot that is our nation.

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