Yesterday’s shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 20 other victims (to date) at a meet-and-greet your Representative gathering outside a Safeway in Tucson, AZ left me speechless.
The Congresswoman is currently in a medically induced coma after being shot in the head at point blank range. The chief neurosurgeon at the University of Arizona Medical Center is being cautiously optimist. Sadly six people lost their lives including federal court judge John M. Roll who was put under 24 hour U.S. marshal protection after receiving death threats about a decision in an immigration case in 2009, Gabe Zimmerman, a member of Congresswoman Giffords’ staff, nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, retirees Dorothy Morris and Phyllis Scheck, and Dorwin Stoddard.
22-year-old Jared Loughner has been charged by federal prosecutors for attempted assassination, 6 counts of murder, and attempted murder charges in the shooting. He’s been described as a “loner” who lived with his parents. While biography trickles in from various media sources in search of a motive, the debate over whether or not Loughner’s motives were political, psycho-babble or a combination of both, will be in the interests of his legal defense and the continuing political hyperbole. If convicted, Loughner will in all likelihood face the death penalty. After all, it’s Arizona.
In the meantime the families and friends of the victims must come to terms with the shocking reality of their tragic losses while family, friends, staff, colleagues, and constituents of Congresswoman Gifford hold vigil as the Congresswoman fights for her life.
In times like these, the people who have to report the story go in desperate search for a lead narrative. So far that narrative in this story appears to be the call for civility in the political discourse. And perhaps, the state of Arizona itself is part of the reason why the civility narrative is standing out. Key issues that were part of the discourse are inching their way into a larger picture as to why this happened. Is this a reflection of the country over the past two years?
A few responses stand out:
Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner eloquently responded…
“I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society.”
Today, the House Speaker Boehner added:
“To the members of the House and their staffs, I ask that you on this Sabbath day that we keep Gabby and her staff in our thoughts and prayers. Public service is a high honor, but these tragic events remind us that all of us in our roles in service to our fellow citizens comes with a risk. This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling to represent our constituents and to fulfill our oaths of office. No act, no matter how heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duty.”
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik represents the people who have the responsibility of maintaining law and order, justifiably expressed his frustration:
I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what (we) see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in. And I think it’s time that we do the soul-searching… The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
Artist, activist and restaurateur Anas “Andy” Shallal made this observation via Facebook:
You’ll see/hear/read more about the “troubled” Loughner. Will religion, ethnicity, or gender be part of his psychological or sociological profile?
Don’t Retreat, Reload!
In the heat of the 2010 election, team Sarah Palin issued a map of state political races and the opponents or “targets” of her pac. The identifying icon was a bulls eye.
David Wiegel of Slate writes:
Palin doubled down, and she had a lot of support from conservatives for doing so, because a lot of them considered the “target map” criticism a bad faith attack on her. Were some of the attacks in bad faith? Maybe. But Gabrielle Giffords had specifically raised her concerns about the target map. Palin had many, many months to stop using the “reload” line, or to identify the targets as “surveyor’s symbols,” and she didn’t do that.
Were surveyors or cartographers the “target” audience for SarahPac? Since Saturday’s shooting, Sarah Palin has offered an on-line call for prayers in support of Congresswoman Giffords and her family. While her team spins and scrubs the map, what remains is this will be a defining moment for the former Alaska governor and communications major. It’s been a challenge for Palin to come out fresh when her opponent, interviewer, critic or in this case, political target is another woman. It’s a situation and dynamic she can’t flirt, flatter, or wink her way out of. In this case, Palin can’t quite use the music/movie influence pass due to the fact that Congresswoman Giffords’ name is on this target chart, and Congresswoman Giffords herself responded to it. Shouldn’t, the 7-year student of communications know better?
GUNS, GUNS & MORE GUNS
The Washington Post has just posted an article about Arizona having the most lenient gun laws in the U.S. Congresswoman Giffords is a long-time gun owner and has supported the Supreme Court ruling to overturn the gun ban in Washington, DC. Lougner had no criminal record. He purchased his gun legally. Yet…
“Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a National Rifle Association-backed bill repealing a state law requiring gun owners to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. State law now permits anyone 21 years or older and legally qualified to own a firearm to carry the weapon without a concealed-to-carry permit.”
Remember that guy Christopher Broughton or Chris B. who showed up with an assault rifle at an Obama rally in Phoenix, AZ in 2009 at the height of the health care town hall meetings?
And, check this out….
“A Washington Post analysis of data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that Arizona is a net exporter of guns that are seized in crimes. In 2009, 1,637 guns first purchased in Arizona were recovered at out-of-state crime scenes, according to an analysis of guns traced by the ATF. That means for every 100,000 state inhabitants, 25 guns were exported from Arizona.”
At this point I, and I hope many others will refrain from using the phrase “nuclear option.”
And from E-Notes:
There is now an urgency to love more than ever before.
President Obama will initiate a moment of silence for Congresswoman Giffords and the victims of the shooting, Monday, January 9 at 11 AM EST.
Prayers and other expressions of support, sympathy and love to the families, friends, and people of the shooting victims in Tucson, AZ.
When labor leader A. Philip Randolph, organized a special march in Washington, DC for “Jobs and Freedom” in 1963, I have no doubt Randolph made deliberate choices on the date — August 28– and the venue — the Lincoln Memorial — as organizers did on the program and selection of speakers.
On this day in 1955 Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old teenager from Chicago was brutally murdered/lynched in Money, Mississippi for whistling at a white woman named Carolyn Bryant outside a small grocery store. His body was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River disfigured from beatings, torture, bullet wounds, and a 70-pound cotton gin tied around his neck with barbed wire. The prime suspects, including Carolyn’s husband Roy Bryant, were acquitted by a 12-member white jury. The suspects later admitted they were guilty of the crime but were never jailed (they are now deceased). Emmett’s mother Mamie Till insisted on an open-casket public viewing of her son’s body displayed just as he was found. The impact of the viewing shocked and disturbed many. It also moved more people to action. Mamie Till’s decision marked a major turning point for the civil rights movement.
Perhaps Randolph was also thinking about 1939, the year contralto Marian Anderson was barred from performing in DAR’s Constitution Hall because the venue was segregated and Anderson, who had performed with the Metropolitan Opera, was a “Negro.” First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt withdrew her membership to DAR in protest. The concert was moved to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial thanks to the efforts of concert organizers including Howard University and Harold Ickes, Interior Secretary who gave a great introductory speech which is rarely mentioned in this story. [Anderson was invited back by DAR to perform in Constitution Hall in 1942.] Considering the events of the day, this newsreel has a fascinating introductory slide.
I played the newsreel of Secretary Ickes speech and Anderson’s performance before an audience in 2009. The audience broke out in applause after the final strains of “Let Freedom Ring” and that was in the middle of the program. Even Forrest Gump can’t shake off the majestic moment of contralto Marion Anderson singing at the foot of Lincoln. And as “footnote,” the Lincoln Memorial was built as a tribute to Lincoln’s legacy in the preservation of the Union after the Civil War as well as his as being the great emancipator.
Randolph obviously knew the power of symbolism as well as time and place. He probably also had the benefit of a few Lincoln Republicans in the mix. Today’s organizers know the power of conflict especially in attracting media attention without getting any real important work done. Conflict oils the machine. It can also be used strategically to distract while others carry out an agenda with little notice. For better or worst, this still doesn’t give the greater society a foundation to build on.
The debate on whether Glenn Beck deliberately or unconsciously scheduled his “Restoring Honor” rally on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for the “Tea Party” or whomever is so not the point. Technically, the Lincoln Memorial is a public space requiring a permit for gatherings. And Beck’s event is to raise money for scholarships to benefit the children of special operations veterans through a charity called Special Operations Warrior Foundation. After the overhead expenses and salaries are paid, the charity is expected to receive the remaining funds – follow the money. Even in the President’s weekly on the end of combat operations in Iraq, he outlines support for veterans and families of men and women who’ve served.
But there is no reason why we also can’t pick where “Jobs and Freedom” left off especially now when unemployment is at 10% and even greater among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and young adults across the board. A livable wage is not a pact with the devil and unemployment benefits are not “entitlements” for people who don’t want to work. Sure there are people who say an unemployment check will give him/her more time — more time to find the job he/she wants and can do well. Isn’t that what the American dream is all about?
Let’s face it, if Beck, Palin, Fox and other opinion outlets were around in 1963, they would’ve done their darnest to shut the march down in the most blatant ways. Of course, not because of the color of the organizers’ skin, but the content of Randolph’s character. A. Philip Randolph was a socialist. And since King was affiliated, his dream would’ve been branded as a quest for a Marxist utopia.
1963′s march on Washington wasn’t just about a great speech or the opportunity for Martin Luther King, Jr. to declare his legacy. It was a culmination and coalition of people and events that collectively asked the nation to live up to its creed, values, and virtues. Is it just coincidence Till was murdered in a town called “Money.” For those who’d like to move beyond divisiveness, “Jobs and Freedom” is clear and relevant. It’s just plain American to me.
Yesterday, the NAACP passed a resolution condemning the racist acts of Tea Party protesters. The backlash from the Tea Party has been furious.
But we are not an organization that shies away from controversy. The NAACP was founded on hope, not hate — and we will not stand idly by as racists work to divide our nation.
— Letter from Ben Jealous, President/CEO of the NAACP
To be unjustly accused of association with what Reagan so aptly called that “legacy of evil” is a traumatizing experience, and one of which the honest, freedom-loving patriots of the Tea Party movement are truly undeserving.
–Facebook post by Sarah Palin, fmr. Gov. of Alaska and Republican VP candidate
Since I’ve been among the Tea Party throngs here in DC during the height of the healthcare debate, I can say from that experience there’s enough to support the NAACP’s argument on face value. Not everyone would fit the bill, but just enough to make the “R” word stand out.
This music video “What If the Tea Party Was Black” by Pittsburgh’s Jasiri X is part of his weekly hip hop news updates on the Real Talk Xpress website. Anyone familiar with the timeline of African American social and political activism in the United States (check out “Eyes On the Prize ” and bios/writings of Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Al Hajj Malik El Shabazz/Malcolm X among others), will get this. Also fans of Tim Wise, whose antiracist writings are the basis for Jasiri X’s video, will give a nod. Will
Aries Petra Consulting Sarah Palin respond to Jasiri X by busting a rainbow tribe rhyme on her Facebook page? You betcha!
Hat tip to Todd McFadden at WVU.
This weekend’s $100K speech at the Tea Party Convention was just one of many Sarah moments of the week topped off by the disclosure of her manual “palm pilot” to remember 3 key conservative issues of her fan base: Energy, Tax
Budget Cut, Lift American Spirits.
Will someday in time people re-enact the 2008-2009 Palin speeches and debates as they do for Lincoln or MLK, Jr. birthday celebrations? Oops. Sorry Tina [Fey]. I almost forgot.
I’ll be perfectly frank. I don’t know why the media chases after Sarah Palin or even raises the idea of her being a serious option to lead a nation EVER. Sure, she’s just another brand of identity politics, but most important Sarah sells. My sister reminded me, she meets the 5 requirements for a news story in a market driven culture:
5. Colorful Language
These are the 5 Cs on the media consultant’s Power Point doc for getting your message, or any message out to the general public. Remember them people. I’m sure Ms. Palin’s handlers may have it “ritten” on the inside of her arm.
Or maybe this is all satire.
Young Frankenstein by Mel Brooks (1974)
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter|
Every time I hear a pundit, commentator, or political analyst describe Sarah Palin as someone who can still grow up to be a viable political force my head just spins. Are the 40s the new adolescence? How many teens have I heard say, “I’m just being myself,” “keeping it real” to shrug off the (hopefully) inevitable requirement to grow up? Okay, professionals in science are working towards the theory that adolescence brain development is a work in progress.
But when you’re 45, the work should be pretty much hot wired. I’m sure, it’s flattering on a vanity level to be called the “young President” at 47 or 48 compared to the 50 and 60 somethings that preceded you. But nevertheless, 48 is grown. At one time it was even called “middle aged.”
Last night while waiting for “The Good Wife” on CBS, I happened to catch a documentary on Elizabeth II (“The Windsors: A Royal Dynasty”) on PBS. In the footage of the 1952 coronation, I noticed the poise and adult grace and dare I say maturity of the 25-year-old princess Elizabeth. I couldn’t imagine such a thing happening to me at 25. And I’m certain there were no detailed instructions left by her father George VI, who died somewhat suddenly. Does a sense of duty and a willingness to assume responsibility crown you as an adult? Does it depend on the age of the country in which you were born? Compared to the UK, the US is just taking off the training wheels.
I mean you can’t even say “Adult Entertainment” without referring to very primal amusements. I think of a night of Cole Porter, Miles Davis or a 4-course dinner party with cocktails. I get the feeling “Mad Men” is so popular because there’s a hunger for “adult entertainment” in a rather youthful culture.
If you must indulge, a good compilation of Sarah Palin book tour media mania is available on The Daily Beast.
Adulthood isn’t for the faint of heart or head. If a biological clock can run out of time, when does a political one?