Saturday 8 January 2011

Sarah Palin's Targets

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been shot at a 'Congress on your Corner' event. Reports coming from the US suggest 19 people were shot, with five people dead. There was some confusion whether Giffords survived the attack. She is currently in intensive care.

Whatever the gunman's motivation, questions are bound to be asked after the liberal-voting Congresswoman was "targeted" by Sarah Palin's campaign for voting for Obama's health care bill. As Palin's site is down, I'll reproduce her list of targets:

Not only does Giffords' name appear under crosshairs, her election recent opponent ran events "targeting" Giffords prior to her election.

Strangely, Fox News are using this occasion
not to speculate. Must be a first for them.


Phil said...

Here's what Giffords had to say about violent political rhetoric:

"Are you afraid? Are you fearful today?”

“You know, I’m not. We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of protesters over the course of the last several months. Our office corner has become a place where the Tea Party has congregated. And the rhetoric has become incredibly heated. Not just the calls, but the emails, the slurs. So things have really gotten spun up. But you gotta think about it. Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world because we effect change at the ballot box, and not because of these outbursts — of violence in certain cases, and the yelling, and it’s just … you know, change is important, it’s a part of our process, but it’s really important that we focus on the fact that we have a democratic process.”

“I think it’s important for all leaders, not just leaders of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party … community leaders, figures in our community to say, ‘Look, we can’t stand for this.’ I mean, this is a situation where people really need to realize that this rhetoric, and firing people up, and even things … For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize that there’s consequences to that action.”

“In the years that some of my colleagues have served, twenty, thirty years, they’ve never seen it like this. We have to work out our problems by negotiating, working together, hopefully Democrats and Republicans.”


Garry said...

This is completely shocking!My heart goes out to the victims and their families. This is a terrible story whether there is a political cause to this or just a man gone wild!!

richwill said...

I find it impossible to read this kind of thing without the same sense of dread with whcih I read A handmaid's Tale a few months ago..

Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely comfortable with the way this piece of propaganda has been attacked. Obviously I agree that many on the tea party right have been irresponsible in whipping up fear and hatred to a level that begins to legitimise/encourage the sort of action that we saw yesterday.

But really, this particular poster and Palin's rhetoric is relatively tame. Remember the Lib Dems' "decapitation" strategy in 2005? Or consider the chants of anti-coalition activists - "Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the tories on the top, put the lib dems in the middle and we'll burn the f---ing lot". Will we blame lib dem election strategists or street protestors if some lone nutter assassinates a politician? I hope not.

As long as the intent is clearly metaphorical, there has to be licence, freedom, for us to use aggressive political language without being tarred with responsibility for the crimes of others. Many teabaggers appear not to be speaking very metaphorically, but I don't think we can put Palin in that category.

Boffy said...

I've just been writing a blog that deals in part with behaviour and attitudes, and part of it cites recent research on political attitudes.

"Of course,it could also be that some people are more likely to respond in this way than others i.e. are more likely to be Conservative in their attitude and behaviour, and more resistant to change. Some evidence of that has been uncovered in relation to political affiliation in a study of students at UCU, which found that those with right-wing views had larger “amygdala – a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion while their political opponents from the opposite end of the spectrum had thicker anterior cingulates.”Brain Link To Political Views. It would be logical that such a relation might exist, because the greater role for emotion might be seen as resulting in emotions such as fear playing a bigger role. Or as Yoda put it to a young Annikin Skywalker, “Fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to suffering.”

Phil said...

Anonymous, I think Dave nails it here. As important as Keith Olbermann's critique is this didn't happen in a cultural vacuum.

Boffy I am extremely sceptical of socio-biological explanations of social behaviour. Do people believe right wing views because of enlarged amygdala, or, as is more likely, they have enlarged amygdala because they hold right wing views?

Boffy said...


Or as the analysis of the study suggests they hold right-wing views, and have developed a larger amygdala because of the social environment they have experienced. However, I don't think you can dismiss biological factors. Part of the blog I am writing deals with Milgram's experiment on acceptance of authority. It is clear, that like any other animal we have some biologically programmed aspects of our behaviour, and the fact that two-thirds of people were prepared to follow the instructions of an Authority figure to the extent of killing someone, is a powerful indication that acceptance of Authority is one of them.

We know that possibly as much as 50% of intelligence is genetically determined (though exactly which combinations of genes are involved remains unknown, and this is not a support of the idea that some classes or ethnic groups are more or less intelligent, the only evidence on that suggests that if anything Asians have higher natural intelligence levels), but the truth remains that kids with higher natural intelligence when they enter nursery education, still end up losing out, if they come from a deprived household, by the time they are seven, compared to less intelligent kids from a more affluent background.

Anonymous said...

It's time to prosecute Palin for her domestic and international terrorism. She also said at one of her speeches that WikiLeaks founder should be killed.

Phil said...

I'm still not sure, Boffy. If authority is hardwired in that what hope for socialism? I've never bought biological explanations for generalised social behaviour simply because the vast literature on socialisation does a better job of explaining it than neurological/genetic explanations.

Boffy said...


I'd say great hope for Socialism, because it implies that Authority derived by first democratic decision, and then by consensus as democracy itself withers away with the State will be automatic amongst the vast majority of citizens without the need for any coercion. That surely means the State may wither more quickly than otherwise.