PZ Myers Nails Why This IS EXACTLY The Time To Politicize The Recent Tragedy

Because although Jared Lee Loughner appears to have been fairly mentally disturbed indeed, his actions did not happen in a vacuum. Since Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee in 2008, and especially since he was inaugurated in 2009, the right wing has ramped up the violent imagery and rhetoric many, many fold. And now, they want to claim we shouldn’t politicize this tragedy? PZ scoffs:

What we have here is an attempted assassination of a politician by an insane crank at a political event, in a state where the political discourse has been an unrelenting howl of eliminationist rhetoric and characterization of anyone to the left of Genghis Khan as a traitor and enemy of the stateā€¦and now, when six (including a nine year old girl) lie dead and another fourteen are wounded, now suddenly we’re concerned that it is rude and politicizing a tragedy to point out that the right wing has produced a toxic atmosphere that pollutes our politics with hatred and the rhetoric of violence?

Screw that. Now is the time to politicize the hell out of this situation. The people who are complaining are a mix of lefty marshmallows whose first reaction to the fulfillment of right-wing fantasies by a lunatic is to drop to their knees and beg forgiveness for thinking ill of people who paint bullseyes on their political opponents, and right wing cowards who are racing to their usual tactic of attacking their critics to shame them into silence. This is NOT the time to back down and suddenly find it embarrassing to point out that right-wing pundits make a living as professional goads to insanity.

More at link, including a number of Tweets collected over the last thirty-six hours, among them one of my personal favorites: “Sure, Sarah Palin didn’t pull the trigger. But then, neither did Charles Manson.” I don’t know the person who wrote that, but – as I read it – it wasn’t a comparison of Manson to Palin, but a reminder that Manson was never even accused of having killed anyone himself, only of inciting his “family,” and a reminder of the fact that it was used to put him away for a long time because we DO recognize the role inciteful, violent, inflammatory rhetoric has in our culture. Or at least we used to recognize it. Why the heck are we shying away from recognizing it now?

2 thoughts on “PZ Myers Nails Why This IS EXACTLY The Time To Politicize The Recent Tragedy

  1. The incident made me mad as hell, but at 70, when my voice counts for little, I am mostly deeply saddened that our country has sunk so low in respect for our fellow human beings, civility, and thoughtful rhetoric without rancor that we now have abyss mentality (my way or your a traitor and should be….. , fill it in.)

    I fear for my adult children and grandchildren about the world they appear to be inheriting. How do you explain to a 9 or 10 year old that the people they tend to trust (adults) are capable of killing/wounding others, including the 9 year old “9/11” girl, for “political reasons.”

    It makes me weep for my country.

  2. The more we learn about Jared Loughner, the more it seems as if he truly does fit the profile of the “deranged loner,” rather than some doctrinaire, right-wing nutjob who specifically intended to assassinate a Democrat. On the other hand, as someone on Twitter said just today, I’m thinking that when you specifically target your Rep & shoot her in the head, it’s vaguely political, no matter how nutty you are.

    Bottom line, though? There’s little doubt that even if Mr. Loughner was insane enough to not really be easily considered a member of any political party or even ideology, it’s fairly clear that his actions were, if not motivated, at least made imaginable and permissible by the heightened atmosphere of violent, eliminationist rhetoric. Greg Sargent at the Washington Post spent most of today checking with experts in the field, here’s what he had to say:

    A leading expert in mental illness tells me that asking whether the Arizona shooter’s violent behavior might have been partly triggered by the nation’s political climate is a wholly appropriate line of inquiry — even if the shooter is found to be insane.

    “It’s a reasonable question to ask,” Dr. Marvin Swartz, a psychiatry professor at Duke University who specializes in how environment impacts the behavior of the mentally ill, said in an interview this morning. “The nature of someone’s delusions is affected by culture. It’s a reasonable line of inquiry to ask, `How does a political culture affect the content of people’s delusions?'”

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