So my day was pretty much ruined yesterday by the news coming out of Arizona. Maybe you think it’s nuts that the attempted assassination of that state’s only democratic Congresswoman upsets a comfortable, well-fed editor in a different, more stable country. Fair enough. Then again, why shouldn’t I be upset?
First off, while I despise its international military adventures I like the United States. I like going there. I like its cities. I like the TV and music and (being a nerd) the comic books. I like many of its people — I’m related to some of them and unconfirmed rumour has it I’ve pleasantly wasted more than a few evenings playing god damned World Of Warcraft with likable, funny, chummy Americans. I even like some of the NHL squads quite a bit — regular dog blog readers know my team is the Columbus Blue Jackets (I even have the jersey). And there’s a U.S. newspaper or five that I skim online every day.
I feel like this bad, bad, political murder happened not to “some other country’ but to my friends and neighbours.
Second, while it appears the alleged killer is a deranged individual, a (somewhat) liberal politician was shot in the head (some symbolism there, no?). That right there distinguishes this from other massacres like Columbine. There will be a lot of punditry forthcoming to minimize this fact, and I want to make it clear that I am preemptively pissed off at it. And the politics at the wrong end of this apparent madman’s gun? Pro-health care. In a place filled with lunatic opposition to both. And if this offends people I’m sorry, but if you’re against the principle of health care for everyone regardless of income, you’re against humanity. Yes, there can (and should!) be arguments over policy details, because hashing things out allows the best ideas to emerge — but good, decent people do NOT argue over the universal accessibility of health care.
Thirdly, there will be a lot of blubbering about how this tragedy was caused by “divisive politics. No. This was not “divisive politics”. The blood is specifically on the hands of the radical conservative politics of the Republican party, and specifically on people like Sarah Palin. Palin, along with the capering, self-serving, Grima Wormtonguesque millionaire known as Glenn Beck, have employed violent, emotionally manipulative language and coyly stoked the fires of armed insurrection since the Democrats nominated a popular, charismatic black man as their 2008 presidential candidate. And health care pushed them over the edge. What the fuck kind of disturbed people oppose health care?
Let’s not kid ourselves here: the type of people who identify with the Tea Party are the types who, historically, would’ve been against women and blacks voting. They don’t want gay people marrying, they don’t want evolution taught in schools (because it’s “just a theory”), they don’t want their children to have access to birth control. Because of fear, they embrace ignorance, selfishiness and the language of violence.
The Tea Party is to blame for the degraded discourse that led to this murder, and the movement needs to be universally excoriated and renounced.
Finally, let’s not forget that a smart, competent woman was the target, here. And one of the dead was a young girl interested in civics who’d been inspired by a female politician. In addition to a political act, this massacre was inherently misogynistic. But then again, with its opposition to female reproductive rights, social programs like child care, health care and welfare and the taxes that fund them, the Tea Party — which again, set the tone that encourages disturbed people to pick up guns and shoot lady politicians and children — is a misogynistic movement. Pretty darn weird for a movement whose de facto leader is female — but the psychology of bigotry, hatred and fear has always been murky and contradictory.
And that’s my two bits. Here’s Keith Olbermann’s.