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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

"Look, we can't stand for this."

I'm exhausted.

As I'm sure most of you picked up on, I took a break from writing a few months before the election -- one more guy on the ground, right? Then November came, and I as everyone else needed some recovery time. But watching cable news for that next month or two sucked away any chance at recovery; the ridiculous quantity of poor punditry, of Republican talking points and Democrats second-guessing Democrats, was just too frustrating. Then a new year comes, and with it a renewed spirit and the desire to address all the burgeoning issues that come from an at times merely misinformed, and at times downright malfeasant elected Republican majority.

And then -- Arizona happens.

OK, let's start with the obvious disclaimers that seem so often necessary when speaking about this topic:

  • No, we don't know for sure what the suspect's motives were. He's not talking, so the best indicator we have is of his note found by the FBI stating that it was an "assassination." So it would seem political (as assassinations generally are), but we can't be sure.
  • No, we can't say this was caused by the poisonous spread of violent rhetoric that has so typified political discourse in the past few years.
  • No, that type of rhetoric can't be attributed to all members of any one political party or faction.

That being said, let's talk about what this is:

  • Yes, it is terrorism.
  • As the subject himself called it an "assasination," yes, it is most likely political in nature.
  • As the crime occurred with a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol with an expanded 30-round magazine, yes, it is a reminder to look with a critical eye at how and how easily we parcel out firearms in this country.
  • Yes, it was in Arizona -- meaning his probably wasn't the only concealed firearm in the crowd, and yet the often-ballyhooed case of civilian intervention with a firearm in a crisis situation never occurred. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, but either way, it does once again cast doubt upon the premise of having a concealed firearm in public for "self-defense" if it's usually too late for the target of violence to draw his/her weapon, and the bystanders are (justifiably) more interested in getting to safety.
  • Yes, it is just about as foolish to say that there is absolutely zero relationship between charged, violent political rhetoric and charged, violent political action as it is to say that a straight line can be drawn between the violent rhetoric of today and this one particular crime.
  • Yes, those who engage in such rhetoric -- a significant majority of whom, undeniably, come from one particular faction of one particular party -- bear responsibility, as Susan Milligan of U.S. News writes, "not for the horrific crime itself, but for accelerating a hostile and highly provocative environment that at its best, prevents Congress from working together and at worst, results in tragedy."

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has an "insurrectionism timeline" of incendiary speech and violent acts related to gun violence in the U.S. Because of the group dealing specifically with gun violence, they leave out some of the more creative non-gun-related rhetoric, like Glenn Beck's wanting to beat Charlie Rangel to death with a shovel, but it's still quite illustrative. (And yes, this list existed well before the Arizona shooting -- though it's now been updated to include it, of course.)

I'll just go ahead and close with Rep. Giffords' own words on violent rhetoric back in March 2010 -- I think you'll find them as relevant as they are eerily prescient:

“Are you afraid? Are you fearful today?”

“You know, I’m not. We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of protesters over the course of the last several months. Our office corner has really become an area where the Tea Party movement congregates. And the rhetoric is incredibly heated. Not just the calls, but the emails, the slurs. So things have really gotten spun up. But you gotta think about it. Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world, because we effect change at the ballot box, and not because of these outbursts — of violence in certain cases, and the yelling, and it’s just … you know, change is important, it’s a part of our process, but it’s really important that we focus on the fact that we have a democratic process.”

“I think it’s important for all leaders, not just leaders of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party … community leaders, figures in our community to say, ‘Look, we can’t stand for this.’ I mean, this is a situation where people really need to realize that the rhetoric, and firing people up, and even things … For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”

“In the years that some of my colleagues have served, twenty, thirty years, they’ve never seen it like this. We have to work out our problems by negotiating, working together, hopefully Democrats and Republicans.”


Texas Blue,

My name is Barbara O’Brien and I am a political blogger. Just had a question about your blog and couldn’t find an email—please get back to me as soon as you can (barbaraobrien(at)


Still at it?

Is Texas Blue still alive?

We've been going through some

We've been going through some serious reorganization for the past little while, but look to us starting anew a little closer to the election, possibly in a slightly different format

Actually Arizona has less gun

Actually Arizona has less gun violence than all other 'liberal' states. Aaron Kocourek


Can you cite any reputable source of data for your assertion? Because I can -- and the Bureau of Justice statistics say Arizona has the 9th highest per capita gun homicide rate in the nation. In fact, there are *no* deep-blue states anywhere in the top ten on that list -- there are three swing states, and the other 7 are all solidly red. So, sorry, the "liberal" states pretty much kick Arizona's butt as far as gun violence goes. You're just pushing another popular conservative urban myth trying to redefine the truth. (Or, as others have put it, "once again, reality has a well-known liberal bias.")

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