a few supporters of these right-wing populists live in fantasy worlds where
fact and fiction are confused. And it isn't only conspiracy theories that bloom
on such ground. It also gives rise to characters who feel called to act as
saviors of an allegedly threatened freedom."
For months, the political right
has been turning up the heat in the United States. In this poisoned atmosphere,
a young man reaches for his gun.
In the political discourse of
the United States, the line between what used to be viewed as
"extreme" but is now considered "normal" was blurred some
time ago. Those who witnessed the hysterical mobs at Tea Party protests against
health reform are quite familiar with the absurd ideas that were disseminated
in these circles. Quite a few supporters of these right-wing populists live in
fantasy worlds where fact and fiction are confused. And it isn't only conspiracy
theories that bloom on such ground. It also gives rise to characters who feel
called to act as saviors of an allegedly threatened freedom.
Arizona is a perfect example.
Republican Governor Jan Brewer personally contributed to the myth that her
state was under attack from Mexican drug cartels and illegal immigrants. She
claimed that people were beheaded in the desert and that the capital of Phoenix
was the new kidnapping capital of the world. Both claims were pure fiction and designed
to secure her re-election. What is factual is the latent militancy in the
language of the Tea Party movement. Its leader Sarah Palin quite literally had
members of Congress in her crosshairs during the election campaign at the end
of 2010. Among them was Gabrielle Giffords, whose office was attacked at the
height of the health reform debate in March 2010. During the election campaign,
Palin's Tea Party hosted a campaign event centered on semiautomatic
When words turn to action, it
is these politicians and their cheerleaders, who then send notes of condolence as
if they had nothing to do with someone like the Arizona killer, who took their
rhetoric literally. But in the end it hardly matters just how narrow the
offender's view of the world is. What matters is that he was emboldened to put
a bullet through the head of a political opponent.
Unfortunately, this isn't an
isolated incident but a trend. After the attack on the Holocaust Museum in
Washington and the murder of an abortion doctor, this is the third fatal
escalation of political violence within a year. The perpetrators may have a
confused view of the world. That, however, doesn't exempt them from the charge
of being domestic terrorists. It is high time that the U.S. verbally disarm. In
this climate, those who add fuel to the fire are partly responsible for attacks
like this one in Tucson. He targeted a single House member, but attacked
democracy. A sad day for America.
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