(Crossposted from Renaissance Post.)
Yesterday afternoon, at a press conference to discuss the Tucson, Arizona shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and over a dozen others — a political hit that has so far resulted in six deaths, a nine-year-old girl’s among them — Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was quite clear on who he thought was to blame in egging on a mentally imbalanced suspect with ties to the right-wing racist hate group American Renaissance. From FDL’s Jane Hamsher’s liveblogging of Sheriff Dupnik’s news conference:
Says Giffords was the target, and that there were 2 incidents occurred in a “very vitriolic” campaign. Someone in an “angry audience” dropped a weapon out of their pants. Another incident where windows were broken out of her office. At her office at Swan and Pima right now, suspicious package being investigated.
The 22 year old suspect does have a criminal past. Says this is how “unbalanced people respond to vitriol coming out about ripping down the government. Arizona has become the capital. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.” Believes people who are unbalanced especially, like the suspect, are extremely susceptible to vitriol.
Interestingly enough, there has been an effort by the media organs that have served as enablers of the peddlers of vitriol to minimize, if not outright conceal, their roles in spreading it. One method is to simply pretend that Sheriff Dupnik — a man who, as an Arizona law enforcement officer, has been a first-hand witness to the effects of this media-promoted vitriol — didn’t say what he said. This method is the one used by Carl Hulse and Kate Zernike of the New York Times, who in this story on the shootings scrubs out Sheriff Dupnik’s comments on media-enabled vitriol helping to make Arizona the capital and Mecca of prejudice and bigotry as assiduously as various right-wingers such as Sarah Palin and Giffords’ Republican opponent Jesse Kelly have been scrubbing their websites of crosshairs and other implied threats directed at Representative Giffords. Meanwhile, Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is ordering the press to stop talking about Palin and the Stalinesque “Commissar Vanishes” removal of this inflammatory material from right-wing websites; knowing how the corporate media usually leaps to fulfill the requests of their GOP allies, I suspect this will happen very shortly.
. . .
The other method is to adopt, as the GOP/Media Complex always does when it wants to deflect attention and responsibility for right-wing wrongdoing, the false-equivalency or “both sides do it so the right wing gets a free pass” defense. According to both the NYT’s Matt Bai (who apparently either “sourced” it from known right-wing operative websites RedState, Hillbuzz, or from the very cesspit of right-wing hate and lies, FreeRepublic.com) and Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, both longtime peddlers of this sort of false equivalence as a means of shielding conservatives from facing the consequences of their actions, somebody’s taking down their own Daily Kos diary (the famous “My Congresswoman voted against Pelosi and she’s now dead to me” diary, in which the diarist, far from wanting to physically harm, much less kill Representative Giffords, merely stated a determination not to vote for her again or support in any way efforts to re-elect her) as a sign of respect for someone for whom he’d served as a campaign volunteer, is exactly the same as Sarah Palin’s and other wingnuts’ frantically scrubbing their websites in the wake of the shooting of someone who they spent months if not years targeting with crosshairs and other violence-inciting rhetoric and imagery.
Arizonans know better than to fall for this trick. Sheriff Dupnik obviously hasn’t. And David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star was on CNN immediately after word of the shootings came out, and said without equivocation that the shootings were “inevitable” because of the rabid right-wing dominance of Arizona’s political discourse:
I’m pretty shaken frankly. This is a very surreal, dream-like experience. As a columnist who’s covered politics in this state, it was inevitable from my perspective.
The right in Arizona, and I’m speaking very broadly, has been stoking the fires of a heated anger and rage successfully in this state.
It’s stunning because Congressman Giffords was a centrist, a moderate, and I don’t know who the shooter is, but what could possibly motivate an individual to be enraged enough take down a moderate centrist.
CNN asked further about the atmosphere of Arizona politics becoming so tumultuous, and Fitzsimmons continued:
This is a gun happy state. I myself enjoy guns from time-to-time, I’m not against gun ownership.
But for this state, it has become a fetish. This is a intense gun culture and the politics of the state are far to the right, rabid right.
I was amazed when Congresswoman Giffords survived these last elections. It was very close. She had a tea party candidate running against her, yet managed to survive and win a second term.
This is very emotional for me. I grew up in Arizona, I’ve spent all my life here, and it has evolved into state that generates a lot of political heat. That’s as kind as I’ll be today.
It’s really tough for me because knew her. She held great promise as a blue-dog democrat. She was a very intelligent, articulate and informed congresswomen who thought a great deal about the future of Arizona.
It’s just heartbreaking for me that such an individual would be struck down.
(Of course, since Fitzsimmons works for a mainstream corporate paper, he was soon forced to apologize for saying what everyone already knew.)
Fellow Arizonan Jeff Biggers also mentions Arizona’s vitriol-fueled political climate, and cites Arizona’s extremely loose gun laws as an additional factor. And Daily Kos diarist BoyBlue, the former Giffords campaign volunteer and the very person who right-wingers and their mainstream-media allies seek to demonize as a way to deflect attention from their own actions, has this to say:
i am going to the local Dem precinct meeting Monday and i WAS going to bring up why i was upset that Gabby voted against Pelosi for leader, feeding into the media narrative that NINETEEN fellow Dems don’t like her and think the 111th House as too far left. Well, OBVIOUSLY THAT won’t be happening. it’ll be emotional and all about what Dupnik courageously said about vitriol and what it leads to. My mom is an RN and says that Gabrielle is not out of the woods yet. I’m an atheist so I won’t say “pray”, but keep the hope alive and keep sending positive thoughts her way that she a) lives, b) can recover a semblance of a good life after such a traumatic brain injury, and, just maybe, c) can eventually return to Washington.
What I plan on saying Monday is that there needs to be a secret service type thing for members of Congress. Her local office was practically DESTROYED over her voting yes on the health care bill. For voting yes on a health care bill? wow.
Later, BoyBlue states this:
I never thought i’d make it into the NYT. Ever. But being a part of her campaign against this odious Jesse Kelly last year, there’s NO WAY this thing was NOT from disgruntled supporters of HIS. Kelly’s supporters were so rabid and bigoted against Hispanics that even casual volunteers to Gabby’s campaign feared them. They attacked my truck cuz i had Giffords paraphernalia all over it when i was trying to leave the October gay pride festival in Tucson. They were there to harass gays. Can you imagine that? his campaign people went to the Tucson gay pride to harass gay people!!!
I guess they just couldn’t STAND that he lost. Rabid just ain’t the word for it. Obviously. I am STILL sick to my stomach over this (I puked when they mistakenly declared her dead today). I have a picture of her and i at her November victory party and i cannot look at it without crying. Just as a statement, I am putting 2010 Giffords for Congress campaign material all over my new hybrid to show support. I have STILL been told to “fuck myself” by Kelly brownshirts whenever i wear Giffords t-shirts out. To this day!!! CRAZY.
BoyBlue also has a fresh diary where he takes on the right-wing-hatched and Matt-Bai-driven nonsense about him. It’s worth checking out.
UPDATE: At least one Republican senator — speaking anonymously because he or she knows full well what would happen to him or her if he or she wasn’t anonymous — has laid the blame for this squarely at the feet of the Republican Party and its conservative allies. As Jon Aravosis says:
Let it be noted that the Republicans control the majority of talk radio and cable TV shows that try outdo each other. The GOP controls talk radio. From Dr. Laura to Limbaugh to Hannity, O’Reilly, Beck, Savage and the rest. As for cable TV shows that try to outdo each other, CNN doesn’t even try to do shows like that, MSNBC is new to the game (and in any case, shows left and right), whereas FOX News has given the GOP an entire network all to itself and has been broadcasting vitriol, with incendiary hosts and guests, for 15 years. There is no equivalence. And finally, the town halls. Who has been using angry mobs to disrupt town halls in a manner that is one hair away from violent? Republicans. Not Democrats, but Republicans.