Monday, January 10, 2011

The Arizona - Islamabad Axis of Evil

Paul Krugman
Marc Thiessen
Fareed Zakaria
"When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?" - Paul Krugman
"What is really outrageous is how quickly so many jumped at the opportunity to politicize this tragic shooting - blaming the Tea Party and conservative political rhetoric without a shred of evidence to back those claims." - Marc Thiessen

On Saturday morning my brother-in-law told me to turn on the tv, that an Arizona Congresswoman had been shot. We both agrees that this incident signaled the end of the tea party. It's also a good thing that our nuclear arsenal isn't stored in Arizona...

The Congresswoman had been shot in the head by a 22 year old man. He killed several people and wounded 19 more, after having gone into a Safeway store to make change to pay for the taxi that brought him, then walked over the the meet and greet that was going on and hosted by the Congresswoman. It was a political attempt at murder, in the sense that she was a Democrat and represented the authority of the government to the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner. I have links to Paul Krugman's column and Marc Thiessen's answering column for hugely divergent views on the reactions. Liberal finger-pointing at the Republicans, saying it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen. Again. Finger pointing right back by Republicans saying one lone nut-case of a gunman doesn't prove any kind of connection...

I mostly agree with Paul, that we have allowed a culture to rise based on hateful rhetoric, people's venting of anger and frustration. And this is currently going on all over the world, not just the US. Extreme political or social views create an unbalanced psyche, that person become angry and frustrated, ends up emotionally unstable and more easily influenced by even more radical solutions. Extreme right wing conservatism creates mental illness, and mentally ill people, even those who are not very political, are still attracted to those ideals.

Jared Lougher is a loner, in the process of being rejected by society, ie getting expelled from school, and peripherally picking up other extreme viewpoints from the Internet. He won't have joined any group, but his agitation made him plan to kill someone, someone who represented the source of his pain, whom he felt was oppressing him and telling him he was mentally ill. If we hadn't this climate of negativity, expressed by the Congressional Republicans, expressed by Rush Limbaugh, expressed by all of the tea party groups who have tried to institutionalize anger and made it socially acceptable to be rude, and yell hateful things, or racist things, at political rallies. It got scary and the dialogues getting more heated during the last presidential campaign, until the GOP stepped in and had folks back off and cool down a bit.

What we can't predict is when a mentally ill person takes it upon themselves to act out. If we hadn't had this negative political climate like some primeval fog floating throughout our country, then maybe Jared would have only have killed himself. Sarah Palin isn't responsible for this attempted murder because she produced a map with targeted gun-sights in 20 different Congressional districts last March, but she does show a lack of self-responsibility for using targeted images and the phrase "Time to re-load!" in the context of her political campaigning. Each negative instance adds to the fog so that a man disconnected from society and reality feels that it is OK to enact his own dark fantasies. threats against our Congressmen have gone up over 300%, higher for threats against President Barack Obama. In this context, Jan Brewer, Rick Perry, John Kyl, Dick Armey, Karl Rove, John Bolton, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and his minions on am radio, and Newt Gingrich are all contributors to this climate of nattering nabobs of negativity.

In Pakistan, a moderately liberal regional governor was assassinated by an extreme conservative member of his own bodyguard. None of his fellow bodyguards did anything to stop him. Later, when he made a brief public appearance for an interview, the assassin was adorned with rose petals by the crowd. Similarities between these two events are the rising sentiments of extreme religious conservatism, a planned assassination of a minor official who represents the government, and the outraged backlash from conservatives saying how dare you accuse us of any wrongdoing.

The danger here is that both Pakistan and the US have nuclear weapons, and in the wrong, conservative, religious fanatic, hawkish hands, we could start WW111 and end the world as we know it, welcome to Armageddon... Or, if someone more ignorant became in charge, I shudder to think how many more wars Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann would lead us into before we impeached them. Thank God that steps are already being taken to eliminate the religious fanatic out of the succession in the Saudi Royal Family, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may soon be impeached, and the successor to Kim Jong-Ill is his impotent grandson who can be kept away from the nuclear button.

What Pakistan and the US needs to do, of course, is fight against the religious terrorism among us, not let it take root and transform our countries into a twisted version of their real selves. We support our Democratic institutions and the representatives of those institutions. Difference of opinions are the core of our institutions, but not the promotion through violent rhetoric and images. The current right-wing anti government movement is just as dangerous to the fabric of our nation as the al-Qaeda jihadists are to Pakistan. It's time to stop this axis of evil, now...

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