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ANOTHER TRAGIC LOSS OF LIFE January 10, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Today it was Arizona, and there is a good chance the same was true in Afghanistan.

Helen at Larvatus Prodeo suggested the killing of people at a political gathering organized by Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords was terrorism. I agree on the basis that in its effect it complies with the definition of terrorism. Juan Cole agrees.

The police believe that the young man responsible for the killings was accompanied by an older one. The significance or otherwise of this relationship if it proves to be the case may reveal more about motivation for the crime. Reports suggest that the assailant had been rejected by the US Army. There are further reports that his you tube presentation was “rambling” and incoherent.

Then there is the political climate that has been created by the use of violent rhetoric and imagery. I expect now that a congresswoman and other innocent victims have been caught up in the implication of that irresponsible political behavior there will be, as there should be, a stop to that kind of language.

To me it seems obvious that the gun laws are an important issue here. I do not know why Arizona and three other states allows the carrying of concealed firearms.

Jeff Biggers, at Alternet, who is from Arizona takes up the implications of this crime:

I don’t believe this tragedy should be reduced to a debate over the disturbed shooter’s motives.

But how on earth can we even have a discussion on decent gun control laws when guns and the gun lobby are woven into the fabric of life for those of us who grew up in Arizona?

I cut my political teeth as a 17-year-old intern with legendary Arizona US Rep. Mo Udall, who defied liberal Democrats with his opposition to gun control. Udall told a Harvard crowd during his presidential campaign 1976: “I don’t claim total courage; I don’t claim total wisdom.”

In my 40-year relationship with this state, I have never witnessed such overt hatred on the level that has been spewed by politicians and talking heads over the past year or so. Earlier this spring, many of us warned of a tipping point of violence in Arizona–and around the nation.

When I first opened the New York Times this morning, I read about Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s obsessive and near witch-hunt of the Tucson Unified School District’s Ethnic Studies Program.

What’s the matter with my Arizona, where I grew up as a redneck transplant from the southern Illinois in 1970s, and have continued to visit my family?

“As I write,” says long-time author and social critic Gregory McNamee in Tucson, “it is not clear whether Representative Gabrielle Giffords has been killed or has survived being shot, along with at least a dozen and perhaps as many as twenty other victims.” McNamee adds:

“What is clear to me, at this chaotic moment, is that no one should be surprised by this turn of events. The bullets that were fired in Tucson this morning are the logical extension of every bit of partisan hatred that came spewing out during the last election, in which Gabrielle Giffords—a centrist, representing well and faithfully a centrist district—was vilified and demonized as a socialist, a communist, a fascist, a job-killer, a traitor, and more.

Anyone who uttered such words or paid for them to be uttered has his or her name etched on those bullets.

With what we have seen today, the rest of us must declare that we will tolerate no more lies, no more hatred, no more violence—and that never again will we spend a single dollar on the wares sold by those who perpetrate them.

If not now, when?”

Now in Arizona–and the nation–do we have the courage and wisdom to deal with our gun laws? To stop the hatred from finding its all-too-easy expression through the barrel of the gun?

We should not forget the sorrow and suffering consequent on the war crimes against civilians that are occurring in Afghanistan, but which will not get the same level of publicity and analysis.

ELSEWHERE:

We do not have to wish ill will to people we disagree with. Disagreement does not have to give rise to hatred and violence. I know that surgeons in the US have more experience than many others when it comes to gun shot injuries, but the pessimist that I am, I do not hold out much hope for a full and complete recovery for Congresswoman Giffords. Here is what former Congressman Alan Grayson wrote:

A reporter called me a little while ago, and told me that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot at a public event. She is in critical condition.

I’m going to let others comment on what this means for America. I just want to say what it means to me.

Gabrielle Giffords and I served together on the House Committee on Science and Technology. She was the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and I was a member of that subcommittee. Her D.C. office was one floor above mine.

I saw Gabby dozens, if not hundreds of times, during our two years together. And nearly every time that I can remember, she was smiling.

Gabby is one of the most cheerful, charming and engaging people I have ever known. She’s always looking on the bright side. She has something good to say about pretty much everyone. Bad news never lays a glove on her. She loves life, and all the people in it.

No matter what is going on in your life, after fifteen minutes with Gabby, you’ll feel that you can touch the stars.

Everyone knew that Gabby would have a tough race in 2010. (She actually won with 49% of the vote.) But I always thought that if each of her constituents could spend that fifteen minutes with her, and see what she is really like, then she would win with 99.9% of the vote. (Same thing about Harry Teague of New Mexico, who lost, and a few others that I could name.) You would want her as your Congressman, because you would want her as your friend.

I know nothing about the man who shot Gabby, and what was going through his mind when he did this. But I will tell you this – if he shot Gabby out of hatred, then it wasn’t Gabby he was shooting, but rather some cartoon version of her, drawn by her political opposition. Because there is no way – NO WAY – that anyone who really knows Gabby could hate her or hurt her. She is a kind, gentle soul.

My heart goes out to Mark Kelly, Gabby’s husband, and the many, many people who love her. Gabby, we don’t want to lose you. Please stay here with us.

Alan Grayson

Katie Connolly at the BBC explains why the gun laws will not change. Nonsense.

Amy Goodman, via Truthdig, makes the case, supported by an overwhelming majority in opinion polling, for restricting the access to weapons.

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