Throwing rocks … and hiding hands Written By: Marvin D. Cloud, 1-17-2011, National news
For the last two years, right-wing rhetoric, like the sign held by a Tea Party member (right) has lead this country on the path to a boiling point. Yet, no one affiliated with the organization, radio-talk show hosts or even White Supremacy groups which sanction such hate talk, wants to take responsibility when their message is taken to heart.
When liquid is heated, if never cooled, it will, in time, reach a temperature where pressure will form bubbles. This temperature, normally 100 degrees, is called the boiling point. For at least the last two years, America the Beautiful, has been scarred by the use of insensitive and dangerous language by its right wing, which has not only divided, but served to spur this country towards an inevitable boiling point. And in spite of the finger-pointing and mudslinging in wake of the recent tragedy in Arizona, which left several Republicans resigning their posts, many citizens believe the worst is yet to come.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was blunt: right-wing rhetoric, full of anger, bigotry, and hate has made Arizona the “mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
President Barack Obama, who as the first Black leader of the country has had to walk a tightrope that often has his detractors confusing his meekness with weakness, was as usual, measured in his response the Monday after Jarad Loughner allegedly shot Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, killed six others and injured 13 more.
“Right now, the main thing we’re doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who’ve been impacted, making sure that we’re joining together and pulling together as a country. And as president of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them.”
These were the words of President Barack Obama. While Obama said the politically right things then, and later at a memorial service for the victims, it’s ironic that the same citizens who have consistently led this country on a path of destruction, now expect him to lead the U.S. in pulling the country together. At a memorial service held for the victims, Obama asked Americans to honor those slain and injured in the Arizona shootings by becoming better people, telling a polarized citizenry that it is time to talk with each other “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
The Telegraph wrote “Barack Obama woke up at the White House on Thursday to a chorus from America’s political class hailing him as having transformed his presidency by delivering an artful and heartfelt speech in Tucson.” However, immediately following, right wingers started criticizing everything from the opening blessing by Carlos Gonzales, a Native American, to the camera angle used when the president talked about “the men that tackled” the shooter. One poster on Yahoo said she didn’t listen to the eulogy because she had to go “Obama,” not only a reference to his color but to the color of her excrement.
Eric Wattree of the Wattree Chronicle writes, “During the 2010 midterm election, Sharron Angle, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Nevada, suggested to her supporters the possibility of relying on ‘Second Amendment remedies,’ an allusion to armed insurrection against the government. Sarah Palin told her supporters, “Don’t retreat, instead, reload.” Palin also put up a “crosshair map,” and one of the targets on that map was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the congressperson who was shot in the head and critically wounded during last Saturday’s shooting. … Now the Republicans are asking, “What did we do?”
Several Republicans in Arizona’s Legislative District 20, citing fears that local Tea Party supporters will now harm them or their families for not being conservative enough. However, this is the same party that staunch members of the GOP stood by, saying virtually nothing as they spewed their hateful rhetoric, dismissing them as harmless.
For her part, Palin, released a statement where she said, “In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.”
||‘I want to put something out to the talking heads still busy inciting this. Whatever comes down from this, it’s on your hands. When you say, ‘Wipe them out,’ and sort of gently suggest that people do stuff…watch yourself, talking heads, this stuff is dangerous,’
-Whoopi Goldberg, The View, March 26, 2010
Joy Zarembka, the interim director of the Institute for Public Policy points out that fair warning had been given, but ignored. She recounts a March 26, 2010 incident on television’s, The View, when co-host Joy Behar, a liberal, and Elisabeth Hasselback, a conservative, agreed Palin’s cross hairs pamphlet had crossed the line. “After flashing the image on the screen showing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) as a target, Whoopi Goldberg turned directly to the camera. ‘I want to put something out to the talking heads still busy inciting this. Whatever comes down from this, it’s on your hands. When you say, ‘Wipe them out,’ and sort of gently suggest that people do stuff…watch yourself, talking heads, this stuff is dangerous,’ she said. Hasselback followed up her comments by saying, “I hope no one will take this literally and take this to an extreme but the chance is out there.’”
Some pundits who refuse to admit even a remote connection, say that today’s political climate isn’t any different from previous years and point to the election of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson squared off against Raymond Burr to prove their point. America’s leaders had refused to heed President George Washington’s advice in his farewell address, when he urged them not to engage in party politics. Washington, who had been unanimously elected twice, knew that it would lead to the dividing of the nation.
Annie Cap, an American author of It’s Your Choice: Uncover Your Brilliance using The Iceberg Process, and therapist, who uses words every day to “manipulate” her clients’ minds, believes Arizona was the victim of language. She’s been advocating “detoxing your language” for some time now and understands that words alone can provoke strong emotional responses and protective behavior in people.
Cap agrees with Obama that we must “talk to each other in a way that heals and not in a way that wounds.” However, it’s not clear if that is what politicians want to do, even if the people wants them to.
Last November, a poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service revealed that four out of five Americans believed politicians lack of respectful discourse is a serious problem. The Civility Project, launched in 2009 to promote such discourse, sent an invitation to join to all 585 members of Congress and sitting governors. However, by the time it shut down on Jan. 3, only three lawmakers had signed on.
||There is no doubt that Loughner showed signs of mental illness, and ultimately the failure to stop him lies with those who knew him best—his parents, teachers, and friends who failed to get him the help he really needed. But the problem with using vitriol like we have heard the last few years is that no one ever takes people like Loughner in account—until something like this happens.
Article appeared in African-American News and Issues, Texas’ second largest-circulation newspaper. (Original link: http://www.aframnews.com/websitepublisher/articles/throwing-rocks–and-hiding-hands-.html )