Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot point-blank in the head today at a constituent meet-and-greet in Tucson. Six people were killed at the scene including one of her aides, a District Court judge, and a nine year old girl; at least 12 other people were injured. The gunman was 22 years old and had an automatic weapon, a pistol with an expanded magazine.

Giffords is a moderate Democrat who is one of the few people in Congress who truly believes in bipartisanship. Everyone she has worked with has said she was a truly kind and joyful woman.

I've seen a lot of people trying to spin Giffords' politics. Fox News in particular seemed to have a bit of a field day with her pro-gun policies. But really? That type of victim blaming is disgusting (although I can't really say I'm surprised). Let me tell you what Gabrielle believes in (from On The Issues) She strongly pro-choice. She favors requiring the hiring of women & minorities. She strongly favors same-sex domestic partnership benefits. She opposes teacher-led prayer in public schools. She’s neutral on the death penalty. She strongly opposes mandatory Three Strikes sentencing laws. She supports the absolute right to gun ownership. She strongly favors more federal funding for health coverage. She’s neutral on privatizing social security. She opposes school vouchers. She strongly favors replacing coal & oil with alternatives. She strongly supports the drug war. She opposes allowing churches to provide welfare services. She favors making taxes more progressive. She strongly opposes allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. She opposes expanding free trade. She strongly opposes the expansion of the armed forces. She strongly favors strict limits on campaign funds. She strongly opposes the Patriot Act.

We live in America, people. We live in a first-world country whose democracy is supposed to be a shining beacon on light. And yet a Congresswoman cannot hold a public event without being the victim of an assassination attempt. What does that say about our country?

This isn't the first attack on Giffords. Her office was vandalized after she voted for healthcare reform, and she has received numerous death threats. In fact, Giffords isn't even the first Democrat to fall victim to an assassination attempt: Tea Partiers cut a gas line to a house they believed belonged to Rep. Tom Pereillo. This is the face of modern American political rhetoric. Congresspeople being shot on street corners. "Second Amendment solutions" (= solutions involving guns) being treated as viable alternatives. A former vice-presidential candidate who says things like "don't retreat - RELOAD" and puts crosshairs over the names and districts of Democrats she wants out of office, and then scrubbed any and all incriminating comments and pictures after this shooting. Tea Partiers who hold events described by the paragraph: "Get on target for victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly." Words have consequences. And maybe Giffords' shooter wasn't directly inspired by something specific that Palin, or Beck, or Limbaugh said, but its only a matter of time before someone else acts on them.

A 9 year old girl is dead. A federal judge is dead. A congresswoman is in critical condition in the hospital. The shooter was 22 years old. Twenty-freaking-two years old. This is mine and Ashley's generation. Do you know how horrifying this is to us? Our generation is being told that it's okay to hate, to shoot, to virtually order another politician's assassination and it's all okay because that's just how people talk politics in this country. Guess what, though? IT'S NOT OKAY. And it never will be.

Please, keep everyone involved in this tragedy in your thoughts (and prayers, if you say them).

After the healthcare vote and the vandalization of her office, MSNBC interviewed Giffords and asked her if she felt scared by the threats. Watch her response. I dare you not to cry.

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