We have now all heard the tragic and infuriating news that Arizona Congresswoman (D) Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head during a domestic terrorist attack. As of this writing, there are 5 dead including one child, a federal judge and one of Giffords’ aids. There are many wounded and some that are in critical condition.
There has been a little news about the terrorist, who some reports indicate was not working alone. As of right now, the apprehended suspect is one Jared Loughner. Googling his name, finding and reading his various social media accounts paints a picture of a mentally disturbed, angry, anti-government, hateful, human being. On his youtube page (triggering material), his favorite video begins with the whisper, “let the bodies hit the floor,” while the screen shows an American Flag fluttering amongst the brush in a desert.
Gabrielle Giffords was born in Tuscon, Arizona and is married to US Navy Captain and Astronaut, Mark Kelly. She is educated, has been a small business owner, and has served Arizona and the United States for 20 years. She is Arizona’s first Jewish Congressional representative. Furthermore, although she’s a member of the Blue Dogs caucus, she receives a 100% rating from NARAL for being pro-choice.
She was featured on a page of SarahPAC website that had a gun target over her district and her name listed as representatives to be targeted in the 2010 election. Sarah Palin’s infamous tweet is also cached, “don’t retreat, RELOAD” on that page. Giffords’ opponent had an event during that campaign to shoot semi-automatic guns with him as a symbol of removing Giffords from office. Chilling stuff, indeed.
During the health care reform battle (it seems that now there are some who feel we are at war), many Democratic Congressional members were victims of terrorism and had their homes and offices targeted and vandalized. We knew then that the violent rhetoric surrounding that particular debate was no doubt part of the reason so many acts of violent terrorism were being perpetrated against people that supported health care reform.
Fast forward to now, Representative Giffords lies fighting for her life in an Arizona hospital and 5 people are dead. This morning she had been meeting with her constituents at a grocery store when the terrorist attack occurred. The response from the right wingers has been swift and tragically, pathetically predictable. The theme of RedState.com piece, “Unfortunately, the left uses tragedy to score political points,” proves it.
Never mind that this claim of Redstate.com is not true, there is an undeniable connection to be made between the violent, “don’t retreat, RELOAD” rhetoric and the acts of terrorism targeting people who’s names sit under a gun target. There is no way that the connection cannot be made. The violent rhetoric preys upon the most mentally unstable in our society, perpetuating a hate for progress and equal rights, leading to tragedies such as what happened today.
Today’s terrorist attack has brought back a lot of really sad and scary feelings. Indeed, the entire thing is very triggering. In the wake of today’s events, I can’t help but remember Dr. Tiller’s assassination. The feelings of shock and dread came tumbling through me, from my head to my feet, I was shaking. “How could someone do this?” I asked to myself. Scrambling to my phone and twitter, I see emails and @ replies from everyone, and I read that a 9 year old child has died. It was like going through May 31, 2009 all over again. A strange feeling of deja-vu came over me. Perhaps I was still groggy from sleep, but there I was, laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, in shock and feeling dreadful once again.
At that time, there wasn’t any official word about whether Gifford would actually make it. The description of her injuries were gruesome and seemed ominous. I am still in shock. Reading through the descriptions of the terrorist shooter (perhaps, shooters), the victims, Giffords herself, the quotes from her father, the mourning and scared citizens filling my feed on twitter and facebook, I was stuck with disbelief. But that will fade, and the sadness will creep in, as the full depth of this tragedy is realized.
What can we do now that this has happened? In the future, how can we prevent these targeted murders? How can we change this? Move forward? Can this country do it? Or are we stuck in this rut; one side against the other — one working for equal rights, the other trying, literally, to kill us. I have so many other questions I will probably never figure out. It saddens me right now that I am forced to consider these questions, after this country has supposedly made so much “progress.”
Yet we here are in a unique position to do something–anything–even if it’s such a small impact that many won’t notice, and even if it’s under appreciated. We, the activists, the people who still mourn and fret for their safety after Dr. Tillers assassination, have to do something about it, starting now.
We are going to continue to call out, reject, and condemn those who carelessly throw around violent words. Not only is the work we do for women’s rights about abortion and a woman’s right to chose, it’s about equal rights for every American citizen. Now, more than ever, we cannot allow the media to pretend that there is not a correlation, at the very least, between the violent rhetoric and subsequent domestic terrorism. This is terrorism, there are people in this country who are at war with us for wanting progress and equal rights. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Just as blowing up abortion clinics is an act of terrorism, so too are today’s events. I cannot say it more clearly: do not let anyone talk of these things without making it clear that this is terrorism.
In the coming days and weeks, there are sure to be so many more posts from our community on today’s tragedy. For now, I join every person that prays, meditates, sends positive thoughts, and hopes for a measure of progress or goodness in an electronic moment of silence for those who lost their lives and for the Congresswoman and her family.