This is the map Sarah Palin published on her site in 2010. Less than a week ago, someone reached one of those targets. Is Sarah to blame? She certainly doesn’t think so and she isn’t alone. What’s interesting about this situation though, is while a number of media outlets are speculating that Palin’s poor use of crosshairs should own some of the responsbility from last week’s rampage in Arizona, a number of politicians are cautioning the citizens of America to remember her first amendment rights. That speaking outwardly about a topic doesn’t guarantee that someone will act on anything and that we should be careful not to call for the censoring of voices. Hmmm….really?
Didn’t the government of Arizona just pass a law squelching the use of ethnic studies in schools because it somehow taught Hispanic students they had been wronged? The consumption of particular words and rhetoric can lead to galvanized minorities thus we should end all classes that could incite revolution. Of course, when the audience isn’t necessarily minority, when say, they are majority white Republicans then there is no need to be cautious about the lessons being taught. It seems, the very basis for the hatred in Arizona is that unemployed whites were being taught lessons about how they were wronged by illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, those who offend and incite violence are sometimes kicked from their mainstream radio channels and are quickly picked up by other supporting stations. Laws aren’t enacted to quell their speech or to stem the mis-education of thousands of eager listeners.
The news has been quick to tell us that the shooter had no political affiliation and that he was just a mentally unstable young adult. While there have been calls to quiet political vitriol there has been little acceptance that Arizona, with its racially charged rhetoric, its specially crafted anti-immigration laws, and it’s attack on education created an environment for such a tragedy to take place. The Sarah Palin’s and the Jan Brewer’s of the world should take some responsibility for their wanton political attacks. The very presence of cultural studies for all members of society, from Hispanic to Jews to blacks aren’t meant to incite acts of violence against anyone but to provide healthy places for spirited debate and to explain the inequities present in this nation with care. Random police searches on “suspicious” Latinos, crosshairs over politician’s states, and hate speech from elected official certainly doesn’t push debate along in an orderly way. If anything it serves to make people like last week’s shooter, hyper-vigilant, mentally-ill or not.