“A TURNING POINT IN AMERICAN POLITICS”

Just as anyone fifty-five and older has the dates November 22, 1963 and April 4, 1968 seared into their memory forever, January 8, 2011 will become a touchstone in the future. For on that date, extreme political rhetoric and a lunatic armed with a legally obtained firearm, combined to bring death to a Safeway grocery store parking lot in Tucson, Arizona.

For several years now, but particularly since John McCain plucked Sarah Palin out of relative obscurity and made her his running mate in 2008, the political discourse on the right has been filled with vitriol, hatred and naked racism. The far right-wing of the Republican Party has been hijacked by the so-called Tea Party and fueled by the reckless and irresponsible rantings of Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and many others. They’ve allowed fools such as “Birther Queen” Orly Taitz to push their racially-charged theories attacking President Obama’s birthplace and qualifications for the office virtually unchallenged. Elected officials such as new House Speaker John Boehner have refused to do what Aretha Franklin said in her hit song, Rock Steady; “let’s call this song exactly what it is”: out-and-out hatred. In fact, they’ve added fuel to the fire with some rhetoric of their own – who can forget Boehner’s red-faced, angry rant on the House floor the night of the healthcare vote last March.

But, everything changed on a Saturday morning in suburban Tucson. A moderate Democratic congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, elected to her third term in November, was holding one of her regular constituent events, Congress on the Corner, when for reasons still unknown to us, an angry, young white man, Jared Lee Loughner, decided to take it upon himself to inflict horror and death on a group of Americans citizens whose only crime that day was to engage in a basic act of democracy – they were taking time out of their Saturday to meet and question their duly elected representative.

Now, many of you may ask why I pointed out that the accused shooter is a young white man. Well, I have a very good reason for doing so: the so-called Tea Party movement, the strident and vitriolic opposition to President Obama and his policies and agenda, and the never-ending rants of right-wing pundits and radio talk show hosts all have an underlying tone of racism. The “angry Americans” who claim that they want to “take our country back!” are in fact, a small, yet loud and potentially violent bunch of angry white Americans who see themselves falling behind in an ever-changing nation and world. And for the life of me, I don’t understand why the mainstream media is so reluctant, if not afraid, to point this out.

The shootings that happened in Tucson are the direct result of the rantings and ravings of Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and especially, the self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzlie” herself, Sarah Palin, who included Gabrielle Giffords in her infamous “Targeted Districts” – complete with crosshairs – map (the map was quickly removed from Palin’s Facebook page and website after the shootings were reported). They all have blood on their money-grubbing, racist hands whether they or they supporters want to admit it. They, not Barack Hussein Obama and the people they oppose, are the anti-Americans among us and now we must all rise up, as a nation based on democratic principles and tolerance for those who are different from us, and “refudiate” their dangerous nonsense once and for all.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be the incident that wakes up the remaining “adults” in the GOP and gets them to loudly denounce Palin and her foolishness that led directly or indirectly to Saturday’s shootings. If they do so, there’s a chance that our nation can once again begin to discuss our political differences in a manner that allows us to disagree, but not be disagreeable. But, if they choose to parse their words again and refuse to loudly and clearly speak out against the rhetoric and actions that have brought us to this point in time, they will forever abdicate their right to be taken seriously and don’t deserve our respect or consideration.

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