The Deadly Danger of America’s Demagogues

I know you don’t need to read this blog. What I am about to say goes without saying. But I will say it anyway – if only to add my voice to the chorus of “Shame!” that must surely be following the vicious attack yesterday on Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (above). Perhaps if enough voices are raised, if the outcry is loud enough, the cancer of demagoguery that afflicts American society may begin to abate.

I know, I know, I have no proof – so far – that the obviously disturbed young man who gunned down a score of innocent people in Tucson acted as a result of incitement by anyone else. But I do know that a Sarah Palin ad  put 20 House members, including Giffords, in the crosshairs of a rifle scope for supporting healthcare reform. And I do know that Giffords’ Tea Party challenger, Jesse Kelly, urged supporters to “shoot a fully automatic M16” to “get on target for victory” and “remove Gabrielle Giffords from office.”

And I do know that the rhetoric of the right is replete with incitement to violence against anyone who disagrees with them.

Who would want to assassinate an irreproachable public servant like Gabrielle Giffords? In her Salon column today, Joan Walsh, points to a statement her father made to the New York Post when asked if she had any enemies:

Yeah, the whole Tea Party.

Walsh adds:

Maybe in the days to come conservatives will listen to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who denounced “the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about the government” at a Saturday night press conference. The 50-year law enforcement veteran, who courageously bucked his state’s anti-immigrant racial profiling law last year, declared that “the bigotry that goes on in this country is outrageous, and unfortunately…Arizona has become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” Dupnik noted that Giffords had a meeting disrupted in 2009 when “someone dropped a weapon out of their pants,” that a door was shattered at her headquarters after she voted for healthcare reform last March, and also revealed that “a suspicious package” had been delivered to her Tuscon office and is still being investigated.

But Walsh obviously isn’t optimistic about conservatives listening to the sheriff. She notes that:

Sadly, to my knowledge, no conservative leader has yet called for dialing back the rage on the right in the wake of the Giffords shooting.

I doubt that any “conservative leader” will. But the rest of us can do something to stem the bloodshed.

We can cry “Shame!”

And if we cry loudly enough, perhaps the public conscience will be aroused. Perhaps the decent people of America will unite to silence these deadly demagogues.

In the meantime, we can only grieve for the six innocent people who were murdered and pray for the five – including Congresswoman Giffords who was shot in the head –  left fighting for their lives.

God help them. God help America. God help us.