It’s always staggering to me when people push things to an extreme but then act stunned when they have to face the consequences. In this particular instance, I’m referring to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. For nearly two years, the far right has gathered in hate-filled rallies with signs that read, “We Came Unarmed…This Time” and “Signs Today…Guns Tomorrow” and “Party Like It’s 1773” and Sarah Palin has inflamed tempers at these rallies with phrases like, “Don’t retreat. Reload.” And then, of course, are her now infamous ads with Democrats lined up in cross-hairs.
Then, someone takes all of this hate to heart, goes on a shooting rampage that kills six and leaves a couple dozen injured, and suddenly Palin and the Tea Party seem outraged that anyone could possibly point the finger at them for their hate-speech.
This was the work of a deranged individual working alone, they say.
Bullshit, I say. Words have meaning and power, and when you use hate and fear to stir people into action, you are just as culpable for the actions of those “deranged individuals” who carry out your message as they are. I’ve written on this blog before that the reason why the right scares me is because people like Timothy McVeigh, Jim Adkisson, and now Jared Loughner all took the venomous, hate-filled diatribes of the far right’s elocutionists and followed through with horrendously violent actions. Against hate and intolerance, there is no reasoning, there is no discourse, there is no civility. Hate will always spawn murder, and those who spew hate for self-gain and political expediency have the same blood on their hands and the person who parked the van or pulled the trigger.
The far left is no less guilty of using hate and sensationalism as the right. It’s simply a miracle that we haven’t had similar shooting rampages by a “deranged individual” from that end of the spectrum. What we need is more of what we saw at the end of last year–cooperation and compromise between the two sides and less extremism. In short, we need moderation. Until both extremes of both parties realize that we’re all in this together and we all need to find a way to coexist, there will continue to be more “deranged individuals” who take the inflammatory venom of people like Sarah Palin and commit atrocious acts at their indirect behest.