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Did Giffords Politicize Violent Rhetoric?

By The Reverend Published: January 11, 2011

This video, which you may have seen already, is essential to the current debate.....

March 25, 2010....

The topic of the segment was the smashing of Ms. Giffords office door after the health care reform vote. Ms. Giffords voted for what the right has labeled ObamaCare. In the middle of the same night that the health care reform bill was voted upon in the House, Ms. Giffords Tucson office (as well as several other Democratic offices) was vandalized. Notice the tagline that ran below the video......"AZ Tea Party Leader: Giffords is Toast"

Asked by Chuck Todd if she was afraid, Ms. Giffords said no....then added....

"We've had hundreds and hundreds of protestors over the course of the last few months. My office is on a corner where the Tea Party movement congregates. The rhetoric is incredibly heated. Not just the calls but the e-mails, the slurs. Our democracy is a beacon to the world because we effect change at the ballot box and not because of these outbursts of violence in certain cases and the yelling."

Asked by Savannah Guthrie whether Republican leaders should have spoken up more forcefully to denounce this violence, Ms. Giffords responded that it was important for not only political leaders to speak out but community leaders as well, saying,.....

"Look, we can't stand for this. The rhetoric, and firing people up,...things for example like, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list. The thing is, the way she has it depicted is with the crosshairs of a gunsight over my district. When people do've got to understand, when people do that, there's consequences to that action."

Todd's response...."In fairness, campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric have been interchangeable for years....I understand that in the moment it may look bad..."

I wonder how "the moment" seems to Chuck Todd right now.

Ms. Giffords: "What I can say is that in the years that some of my colleagues have served, 20, 30 years....they've never seen it like this."

Then Guthrie asks the same question that Tea Partiers and conservative apologists are asking right now....

"Some on the other side of the aisle are suggesing that in some ways Democrats are reaching out to highlight these instances of violence because they want to make it seem like that's who the Republican Party is...this crazy, violent wing of the Republican Party represents the norm. Are you concerned that Democrats may be using this as a political opportunity?"

Ms. Giffords:

"Well, I don't think about it that way. That's certainly not what we're doing....The reality is, when you look at these examples around the country, which really tried to incite people and inflame emotions...then, chances are, you're going to have a couple people, extremes on both sides, not just Republicans, there's extremes on both sides......That's why all of us have to come together and say, Okay, there's a fine line here."

Now the questions for my conservative friends....

When Ms. Giffords talked about inflaming emotions and inciting people, when she talked of Tea Party congregants outside her office using "incredibly heated rhetoric", when Ms. Giffords refers to Sarah Palin's "crosshair" map, when she states that her Democratic colleagues haven't seen it this bad in 20 or 30 years...when she says there's "consequences" to those kinds of suggests of violence......

Do you think she was attempting to politicize the actions of the Tea Party?

Was Ms. Giffords politicizing the violent actions and heated rhetoric of Arizona Tea Partiers in her district, and in other Democratic districts? Or was she trying to be reasonable in pointing out the obvious?

Was Ms. Giffords trying to nullify the rights of Americans to exercise free speech? Was she trying to silence her political opponents?

Are not some Tea Partiers....are not some conservatives and Republicans accusing anyone, right now, who has complained about rightwing rhetoric and threats of violence, of politicizing the act of violence in Tucson on Saturday?

Are calls from both Republicans and Democrats to tone it down, chill down the violent symbolic language and the heated, over the top, threats.....a concerted effort to take away the right of conservatives to exercise free speech?

Is Chuck Todd's question in March suggesting equivalencies of heated rhetoric and threats of violence on both sides.....not the same question we've been hearing from the Village media ever since Saturday's Tucson massacre?

Given the Tea Party Nation founder's response yesterday that he still doesn't see anything wrong with bringing loaded guns to political rallies....given the Tea Party's rejection out of hand of suggestions that they should "tone down the rhetoric".....

Do you think that anything is really going to change?



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