Guest post by Joe Christmas
The horrific events of last weekend deserve a place in the historical record of this country. Pin it up right next to Jonestown, Waco, the Oklahoma City bombings and any of the multiple massacres we have had to endure. Infamously, the attempted assassination of a US Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, and the murder of six people will always stand in our national memory. But how will it be remembered? How will we recall the tragedy?
Will our thoughts be triggered whenever we see the face of the angelic, beauteous Christina-Taylor Green? Or that of Gabrielle Giffords? Well, I hope so, at least, for humanity's sake. But, what else? When we hear of Tucson? Or when we hear Loughner's name? Or, will it be, that Sarah Palin, and a SarahPAC map with gunsight crosshairs distinctly over Ms. Giffords district are the associative tags into our emotional recall? Won't that be the inexorable linkage that forever ties the memory package into our consciousness?
Like it or not. Left or Right, or indifferent. The mind works in this associative manner. Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Newton and the apple. Napoleon and Waterloo. The Civil War and Slavery. WW II and the Holocaust. Jonestown and Kool-Aid. The list is endless. Right or wrong. Factual or nonsensical, our historical memory has these indelible links.
Further, and more problematic, propagandists know this too. From religion to Goebbels to Fox News they have tried to cram these linkages into a collective belief system. Witches are to be burned. Slavery is honorable. Jews are evil. Liberalism is execrable. Single Payer Healthcare is Communism. Again, the list is endless. To quote Charles Darwin:
Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.
Maybe it is a measure of intelligence and civilization on how we are able to dissociate these links. Those willing to read, study, investigate and reason beyond these initial associations command our respect. We should applaud those who question and dig deeper than what appears on the surface. But, nonetheless, these couplings are still there and we all have to bear with them.
And so the tragic shootings in Tucson will be tucked into our brains with a few impressions. And the grouping of Palin, the bullseye map, Cristina-Taylor Green and Gabrielle Giffords most likely will stick forever. So, is there any doubt about why the Right and Palin's supporters went into such a fury to try and keep this from happening? They have been frenzied, and will continue to do so, to try and keep those images apart. But, the horse is out of the barn, and if the MSM continues to put them together -- and I think they will, then the inexorable linkage will go into our lexicon.
Also related to this defensive posture that the Palin camp has chosen is the abject lie that Palin's spokesperson, Rebecca Mansour has fabricated. Within hours (maybe minutes) of the Tucson tragedy, the Palin spin machine went into motion. Instead of being contrite and supportive, we got a comical, guilt-ridden and pathetic response -- the bullseye map was scrubbed off the SarahPAC site. And then, Ms. Mansour stated publicly, "It's a surveyor's symbol," in reference to what are clearly gunsight crosshairs. First, they were intended to be gunsight crosshairs, and secondly, as numerous people have pointed out, there are no such marks in the surveyor catalog. Just another untruth from Palin or those who speak for her. So why would someone lie in such an egregious, obvious manner? To deflect and try to suppress a link they knew existed?
And so the argument becomes: Is this linkage fair? Is Palin culpable for targeting members of congress? Probably, given all the other rhetoric and imagery she portrays in pandering to the gun lobby and her base. As some of our commenters have pointed out: you can't make bomb references in an airport, or threaten certain officials, or cry "fire" in a crowded theater. So threats are usually illegal. Likewise, when SarahPAC made that monstrous map, someone had to know it was a calculated risk. And Palin, mostly, so far has won all her bets. But this time around, the gig is up, it's time to pay up -- big time. Maps, tweets, word salads, fake political ad reality shows, whatever, they all have consequences.
I can actually see the counter-argument. Palin wasn't there, didn't pull the trigger, didn't order anyone to do it, etc. Further, it hardly matters if Loughner ever even saw the map. The facts remain. A terroristic act transpired under a bullseye that Sarah Palin endorsed. She is bonded to that image for all time. Does she bear some responsibility for Tucson? We can let people make up their own mind. But she is forever part of this sad episode in our history.
We know how we feel. We know how Palin supporters feel. Now let's see how the other huge swath of America somewhere in the middle feels. Let them decide how to deal with this inexorable linkage. I know which way I'm betting on the outcome of this deal.
I would like to thank fellow-gaters sheesh, laprofesora, anothersally and Leadfoot_LA for their responses and inspiration.
Many thanks to Joe Christmas for this thought-provoking guest post.
I am sure that you will agree that the above cover by "The Stranger" is very thought provoking as well.
Our reader disqusux left a brilliant comment earlier today, regarding Sarah's unwavering fans, the infamous Palinbots, who will stand by their leader until the very end. I am sure that disqusux won't mind if I repeat it here:
Dispatches from the PeeZone
They're exhausted from "having the Guv's back'; they barely have have the energy to hate even two or three people on their rapidly-growing list. I suspect some of them are faking it.
Even their nuttiness sounds weary ...
God didn’t give her the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. [If God gave her a sound mind, I want to know who took it away.]
Let the rats come out of their holes. We’ll see who we can trust and who we can’t. I’ll bet Sarah is busy making a list right now. [You betcha she is. She'll need a toilet roll.]
SarahPac needs our help, now, more than ever. Think about donating this week if you can! [Because a big wad of money always makes her feel better. It's such a help.]
Am I the only one who wish they wouldn’t air the Judge Pirro episode until Sarah had a chance to speak about the tragedy in person? I know it’s not fair for Pirro, and if she did air the episode this Saturday she’ll hopefully make a note in the opening that it was taped before the tragedy. But still, I’d much rather it not aired just yet. From what I have read, they have some light moments and joke about camping with the Obamas. [And Sarah being 'light-hearted' has you so worried because ......?]
People are asking why Sarah isn't out talking about this or why she is hiding behind electronics. Does no one understand Sarah or Alaskans or the mind of a good human being. [That's right, Alaskans are well-known for hiding behind electronics.]
I’ve heard comments about how Palin has stayed silent through all these attacks and whether or not that was the right move. I was reading The Bible earlier today and saw this ..... [Thou shalt hideth behind electronics .... for a long time]
Christians are called to follow Christ in his actions. Sarah Palin is a Christian. Hence following His example is par for the course. [Is she playing golf with him?]
I don’t know if I am articulating myself very well. [Why is that, honey? Are you double-jointed?]
Sarah Palin has a lot to answer for. However, she won't. She will keep silent, just like she never gave an answer to the sincere concerns of Andrea Friedman. A good leader would step out in the open and defend his or her position, or make at least a meaningful and thoughtful statement. Sarah Palin, however, won't. She is angry. She is angry that it's her who is being called out. She is angry that her hateful, reckless rhetoric found a "wall" of dissent, which at least temporarily stopped her from continuing to gamble with minds, emotions and symbols. She "hides behind electronics" because cannot face the criticism in person. She is not a leader. She is a small and angry and thoughtless person who would have never been in this position, hadn't another reckless politician, John McCain, thrown her into the spotlight.
At the end, a cartoon:
Regina was creative - the result is pretty impressive - don't miss it!
Here are links to the MSNBC takedown Sarah Palin programmes that have been discussed in the comments. Thanks to madam deal for collecting them: