Monocolumn: After The Shooting, The Blame Game Begins

It seems, and possibly is, idle to ferret for ironies in the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: it is a ghastly tragedy that has left six people dead, 14 injured, hundreds bereaved.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

It seems, and possibly is, idle to ferret for ironies in the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: it is a ghastly tragedy that has left six people dead, 14 injured, hundreds bereaved. But it is astonishing how quickly the media, blogosphere and social networks have fixed on the idea that the victims of this crime are victims, at barely one remove, of inflammatory political rhetoric.

The line is that the attempt on Giffords’ life was the inevitable consequence of the deranged partisan rancour which has become a feature of American discourse, perhaps best exemplified by the absurd beliefs widely propounded about the citizenship and religious leanings of President Barack Obama. The primary exhibit for this view of the Giffords shooting is a map of the US, published last year on the Facebook page of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The map listed the seats of 20 Democratic politicians that Palin wished to see unhorsed in the 2010 midterms, and placed above their districts a graphic resembling a crosshair. Congresswoman Giffords’ constituency was one such.

It requires truly transcendent obtuseness to perceive anything genuinely sinister in this: party politics in all democracies is routinely conducted in the terminology of combat (Obama himself, in 2008, taunted his Republican opponents by paraphrasing “The Untouchables”, saying “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”) It is possible – indeed, sensible – to harbour many doubts about Sarah Palin, but to hold her accountable for the attack on Congresswoman Giffords is to commit the same elementary moral error as believing that alternative rock pantomime-dame Marilyn Manson was in some way culpable for the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.

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Image by DerekL


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