Like most people I've been trying to process the shootings that happened last weekend in Tucson, AZ that killed six and injured 14 including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. An event like this brings a number of emotions to light. Maybe it's the shock over something so extreme happening. Maybe it's that tragedies like this make one realize that things can change without warning. Regardless, there's something about things like this that shake us out of our usual routine and making us realize that some of the things we get so hung up about aren't all that important in the big picture.
Then there's the video that former Gov. of Alaska turned former vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin posted two days ago. Posted in response to criticism over a pre 2010 midterm election map from SarahPAC that posted gun targets on several Congressional districts (including the one Giffords represents) her response came hours before the Memorial to the victims in Tucson, AZ last night. Coming after days of silence and debate over how heated our political discourse had become it was posted without warning just in time for the morning news cycle.
While many from Keith Olbermann to Newscorp (parent company of Fox News) CEO Rupert Murdoch have urged for a toning down of the rhetoric, Palin took an opportunity to voice sorrow and get people to focus on what went down last weekend and instead cried victim, making it all about her.
IN this speech, Palin tried to play both sides. Claiming responsibility for the shooter was solely on the shooter, Plain said we should never let an event like this deter us from the right to "peacefully dissent" against the government. However, she also implies that those in the media who criticized the rhetoric used by Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the like were the ones that were provoking violence. This tactic of projecting her tactics onto those that disagree with her did little to examine how such a tragedy could go down and much to continue the path the American right has continued to find themselves on over the past couple of decades.
Palin has gained a justifiable amount of criticism for claiming those that disagreed with her were manufacturing a "blood libel" against her. It's hard to know whether she knew what a "blood libel" actually entailed. She did intend to paint herself as a victim of persecution.
I agree with Palin that such a tragedy shouldn't interfere with our right to peaceful dissent in our society. This is also a stance taken by Matthew Rothschild at the Progressive. In fact, many people who wish the right wing media would "tone it down a notch" actually don't want a law to censor anyone's speech. However, such nuance clashes with the cultural dissonance people like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and the like have helped to ratchet up since Obama was inaugurated (and have been slowly pushing under the radar since the rise of the Christian right in the late 70s/early 80s).
So why the speech now? Mainly Palin is playing to her base; trying to keep her name in the media outside of her e-mail/text missives to Glenn Beck during the past few days before her video. However, the video also takes a horrific tragedy that shook up most people in this country and, instead of focusing on the big picture, painted herself as the real victim. It is this that is truly sickening about the whole incident.
As for her point about "Peaceful dissent," it becomes laughable given that her facebook page routinely deletes comments critical of Palin though leaving up a hateful comment regarding the killing of 9 year old Chritina-Taylor Green. In addition, her insinuation that those requesting that the rhetoric be toned down actually are cuasing violence is a cheap attempt to have it both ways, stating she can say whatever she and her allies want but those who oppose them shouldn't. So much for "peaceful dissent" in that context.
At this point in time we still don't truly have a whole picture of what led Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner to do what he did. However, at a time like this, the worst thing to do is take something like this and make it about yourself. Yes, Sarah Palin has the right to say whatever she wants about any issue she pleases. Making this about herself rather than honoring those who died or were injured in the shooting is extremely distasteful at best.
In other words the best response to this is this: Little Barricuda, it's not about you.
It's sad that she's the last person to realize this simple fact.
A NOTE ON READER COMMENTS: After careful deliberation, I've decided to allow comments on this post for the time being. However, they will be moderated and anything that I don't feel is constructive will be deleted. Given that many on the right routinely delete comments from those they disagree with or don't allow comments at all, I think this is fair.