The American Taliban Strikes: Assassination Attempt of Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)
Gabrielle Giffords was the target of an assassination attempt today in Tucson, Arizona. The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 22 approached from behind and shot her in the back of the head before gunning down many others before getting wrestled to the ground. This act of terrorism is the culmination of a long campaign of fear mongering and hate by right wing leaders, and is not an isolated incident.
The American Krystallnacht
Town Hall Protests
Sarah Palin’s Instigation
Incitement to Violence
Congresswoman Giffords was hosting her first Congress On Your Corner event outside a Safeway grocery store in the northwest section of Tucson. She tweeted the event from her account at @Rep_Giffords, stating: “My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.” This was her final tweet.
Giffords is married to astronaut Mark Kelly, a veteran of Desert Storm, and the commander of an upcoming shuttle mission. They have two children. The event had other attendees, many of whom were also shot by the assassin including John Roll, a federal judge. The surgeon stated that Rep. Giffords wound was ‘through and through’. Reports indicate 6 are dead, including a nine year old girl and 19 others are injured. The weapon used was an unidentified semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine.
In an emotional and powerful commentary, Tucson Sheriff Dupnik condemned right wing incitement and hatred, saying Arizona has become the mecca for prejudice & bigotry.
Gabrielle Giffords Talks To MSNBC In 2010 About Threats Against Her:
Giffords had an eclectic position base. She was rated 100% by NARAL for standing up for a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. She was also known for strong stands on education and green energy (the latter being a source of hate from conservatives). She also supported gun rights and tougher stances on immigration. She voted in favor or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus bill) and health care reform.
The November midterms that yielded tough results for Democrats in the US House spared Gabrielle Giffords, who won her seat in a very close election by only 1.46% (4,156 votes). She defeated Republican Jesse Kelly and Libertarian Steven Stolz. This was one of the last races called.
Democratic Gabrielle Giffords 138,280 48.76%
Republican Jesse Kelly 134,124 47.30%
Libertarian Steven Stoltz 11,174 3.94%
The would-be assassin is Jared Lee Loughner. He is 22 years old, and there is a decent compilation of evidence on who he is at the Huffington Post. Despite his appearance in his high school graduation photo above, “Loughner was described by eyewitnesses at the Arizona shooting as a young white man who looked like a “fringe character,” in his mid-to-late 20s, clean-shaven with short hair and wearing dark clothing.” Below are selected excerpts from the last video he posted on Youtube titled, “My Final Thoughts.”
You don’t allow the government to control your grammar, listener?
Terrorist. If I define terrorist as a terrorist then a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon. I define terrorist. Thus, a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon. If you call me a terrorist, then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad Hominem. You call me a terrorist. Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad Hominem.
Jared Loughner is a United States Military recruit at MEPS in Phoenix. Therefore, Jared Loughner is receiving one mini bible before the tests.
You don’t have to accept the federalist laws. Nonetheless, read the United States of America’s Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.
If the property owners and government officials are no longer in the ownership of their land and laws from a revolution then the revolutionary’s from the revolution are in control of the land and laws. The property owners and government officials are no longer in ownership of their land and laws from a revolution. Thus, the revolutionary’s from the revolution are in control of the land and laws.
In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I cant trust the current government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!
The American Krystallnacht
This was not the first time Giffords was threatened, she was a regular target of right wing hate. As I reported on 24 March, 2010, Giffords was one of many victims of the deliberate window smashing campaign orchestrated by conservatives online following the passage of the Affordable Health Care For America Act (AHCA), more commonly referred to as the Health Care Reform bill.
ThinkProgress reported: “Vandals have struck the Tuscon office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters in upstate New York, Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) Niagara Falls office, the Knox County Democratic headquarters in Ohio, and the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, KS.”
One note attached to brick thrown through a window in New York quoted the former presidential candidate and conservative Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) which read “Exremism in defense of liberty is no vice”. In typical Tea Party fashion, there was a glaring spelling error.
One organizer of this attempt to terrorize supporters of health care reform wrote, “I’m advocating broken windows. I’m advocating vandalism. We can break their windows.Break them NOW. Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight. Break them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience. Break them with rocks. Break them with slingshots. Break them with baseball bats.”
Another conservative activist named @solly_forell tweeted the following message: “ASSASSINATION! America, we survived the #Assassinations of #Lincoln & #Kennedy. We’ll surely get over a bullet 2 #BarackObama’s head! #tlot.”
Sarah Palin tweeted, “Don’t retreat. Instead – RELOAD.”
Representatives Louise Slaughter and Bart Stupak received death threats at this time as well. Politico reported, “A tea party participant published what he thought was Rep. Thomas Perriello’s home address and urged disgruntled voters to “drop by” for a “good face-to-face chat.” The article continued, “Rep. Driehaus (D-OH) faults Republicans for providing encouragement to the most extreme opponents of reform. Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned that anti-abortion Democrats would suffer politically if they voted for the health care bill; he singled out Driehaus, saying he “may be a dead man”
Orange County, California Pastor Wiley Drake called for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for the bill, through the power of imprecatory (death) prayer. This is nothing new to this conservative Christian, as he has prayed for and encouraged prayers for the death of Obama in the past.
In other words, there is a clear pattern of behavior here that started with incitement by conservative leaders, and led to violent or threatening action by right wing extremists.
Town Hall Protests
During the Summer recess of Congress in 2009, Gabrielle Giffords was holding a meeting to discuss the health care reform bill. Someone brought in a loaded gun, which fell out of his clothing, causing the event to get canceled for security concerns.
The Arizona Daily Star reported: “Yelling and screaming is counterproductive,” she told the Sierra Vista Herald at a Congress on Your Corner event last week. There, one visitor dropped a gun at the meet n’ greet held in a Douglas Safeway, her staff says. That has aides, who called police to the event, concerned for her safety. “We have never felt the need before to notify law enforcement when we hold these events,” said spokesman C.J. Karamargin.”
This was not an isolated incident during the health care town hall discussions either, and there were other incidents involving firearms. Union members also received death threats and violence broke out at one event in Tampa Bay.
This was all an orchestrated and planned disruption by conservative leaders in the Tea Party movement. Astroturfing instructions from FreedomWorks to disrupt town hall meetings hosted by Democratic congressmen were leaked in a memo was exposed on Talking Points Memo, and included such excerpts as:
– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
The mobs, intimidation, and deceit at these Town Hall health care reform discussions could easily be likened to brownshirt tactics, as they were intended to shut down legitimate discussion, and like the window smashing campaign, were incited and orchestrated by conservative leaders.
Tea Party protesters seemed to revel in their extremism while protesting Rep. Giffords. During one rally, signs read such things as “cap-n-traitor” and one man proudly showed off his ‘right wing extremist’ card. Participants could be heard saying: look at the extremists everybody!, look at all the terrorists, and whose not happy that they’re extremists?!
Giffords haters even tried to spread the rumor that she asked Gen. David Petraeus what he was “doing to reduce carbon emissions in the war on terror”. This false allegation that was later debunked by snopes but not until it had made the rounds in the conservative blogosphere. It is still sometimes cited by right wing internet activists, demonstrating the nature of their desperation and disinformation.
There were numerous death threats against her since she was first elected in 2006, part of a larger recent pattern. Although death threats have not been isolated to Democrats, every one of them appears to be coming from conservatives, reflecting a serious increase in fear mongering by right wing media sources.
In April 2010, Gabrielle Giffords released a statement after fellow U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and leader of the Progressive Caucus in the House was forced to close his Tucson and Yuma offices because of threats which came after calling for a boycott of Arizona in response to SB1070 (the “papers please” bill written by a racist organization). She stated:
I am deeply troubled about reports that Congressman Grijalva and members of his staff have been subjected to death threats. This is not how we, as Americans, express our political differences.
I know from the recent act of vandalism at my Tucson office that intimidation has no place in our representative democracy. Such acts only make it more difficult for us to resolve our differences.
I have said that I strongly disagree with Congressman Grijalva’s call for a boycott of Arizona businesses. I believe that a boycott would hurt Arizona’s families and businesses at a time when our state’s economy is taking the first steps toward recovery after a devastating recession.
However, resorting to vandalism and threats to express political viewpoints is unacceptable. We must work together as a nation to enforce federal immigration laws and strengthen border security.
Despite calls for calm, in October 2010 toxic powder and swastikas were sent to Rep. Grijalva’s office.
Sarah Palin’s Instigation
In a similar way to how the venom spewed by Bill O’Reilly may have contributed to the slaying of Dr. George Tiller in his church, it could be argued that Sarah Palin has contributed towards instigating violence against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Although Palin’s ‘Don’t retreat, reload’ tweet did not target Giffords directly, a posting on SarahPAC literally put her in the crosshairs.
The USAToday reported last fall, “In a website launched on Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the health care law, Palin puts a bull’s-eye on 20 House districts under a headline that reads, “We’ve diagnosed the problem…Help us prescribe the solution.”
Incitement to Violence
Catherine Crabill, a Republican Tea Party candidate for political office in Virginia in essence stated that if conservatives lose elections, they still have guns: “We have the chance to fight this battle at the ballot box before we have to resort to the bullet box… But that’s the beauty of our Second Amendment right. I am glad for all of us who enjoy the use of firearms for hunting, but make no mistake, that was not the intent of the Founding Fathers. Our Second Amendment right was to guard against tyranny.”
Sharron Angle who lost the Senate race to Harry Reid in Nevada last fall stated something similar: “Well it’s to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.”
All of this deliberate fear mongering has had a measurable effect. There has been a chilling rise in right wing hate around the country. President Obama receives an average of 30 death threats per day, a 400% increase over Bush. Conservative websites have called for a Honduran style military coup, offered a list of Democratic Senators to assassinate, and sold merchandise about Obama featuring Psalm 109:8 which reads: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Pastor Steven Anderson (also of Arizona) virtually issued a fatwa on Obama, and members of his flock arrived at a Phoenix rally with loaded assault rifles. Many have compared the current atmosphere to that which existed prior to the assassination of JFK. Others say it feels eerily similar to the way things were before Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building, killing 168 people.
In another event related to right wing hate, a string of incendiary packages have been delivered recently on the East Coast, including one to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today.
Conservative Christian extremists are targeting Obama with a vengeance, and by default any type of rational progress for the nation. They are joined by and increasingly merging with corporate astroturfed legions in the Tea Parties.
This is all part of the plan by corporations and their conservative politicians to rile up fear of change and anger as a political tool, specifically Step 2 in the 2010 Republican Playbook: to Increase Negativity. I predicted this unfortunate spike in violence over a year ago, and allow me to repeat that warning here today: as long as the right wing continues it’s deliberate campaign of fear and hate, the violence will continue. The assassination attempt of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is just the start.
This is the American Taliban in action.
Editor’s Note: For more coverage on News Junkie Post about the Tucson’s tragedy, please read Liam Fox’s article.
Note from the author – upon subsequent information becoming available, my wording (particularly of the title) is regrettable. It was done in an emotional time, and there are no clear connections between Loughner and the the far right groups that have been called “the American Taliban” by many pundits. That said, I still believe that the culture of right wing hate has to accept a certain amount of responsibility for this, because Loughner’s main points of grievance were the government and the lack of a gold standard, and his cryptic speech patterns clearly resemble a notorious member of the right wing Sovereign Citizens movement. Regardless, I apologize for any confusion the strongly worded title as certain parts of the post, any offense was unintentional. I do not believe in self-censoring my work after it has been published however, so details within the article have not been changed.