By any non-American standards, with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia, Gabrielle Giffords was quite rightwing. However, she did support the minimal state healthcare plan Obama managed to get enacted.
This, to Sarah Palin, meant that Giffords and her allies were liberal-communist-fascist-Stalinist-Nazis, and this delightful image appeared on Sarah Palin's website during the recent elections, alongside the slogan 'don't retreat, reload'.
Now of course, the image has been deleted and Palin's spinners are out and about.
A Palin aide, Rebecca Mansour, speaking on the Tammy Bruce radio talkshow, denied the symbol represented crosshairs. "We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights," Mansour said.And if you believe that, I have the Eiffel Tower, London Bridge and a perpetual motion device on my Ebay page ready for your purchase.
Instead, this is tucked away at the bottom of the front page, and rather unconvincing it is too:
"On The Tragedy in Arizona"
My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona.
On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.
American politics has become disgusting. There doesn't seem to be any space on the conservative side for opposing the Democrats while respecting their beliefs. Liberalism's main weakness is that it - by definition - respects the opinions of others and tries to understand all points of view. Conservatism assumes that everybody else is fundamentally wrong and perhaps evil. It was striking when Obama won that the right immediately started to act as though he'd staged a coup: blocking most of his legislation, questioning his citizenship, making thinly disguised racist remarks, distributing pictures of him as Hitler and Stalin.
Polls last year revealed that a majority of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim and a socialist who "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government" while two-thirds of Republicans either believe or are not sure that the president is "a racist who hates white people", and more than half believe or are not sure that "he was not born in the US" and that he "wants the terrorists to win".
Gun sales rose 50% in the week Obama was elected: that isn't the sign of a healthy political sphere, to put it mildly. There must be ordinary decent conservatives out there who disagree with the Democrats without waving guns and talking about communist fascists, but they certainly don't get on the airwaves. Instead, the discourse tacks further and further right, and violence becomes more and more acceptable.
I'm not a weak liberal. I'd put quite a few of you in camps, quite frankly. But much as I despise people like Paul Uppal (my dishonest and untrustworthy MP), I don't think he's a threat to my way of life. The truth, served in a rich stew of sarcasm, should be enough to expose him. For all its faults, European muddle-headed liberalism has produced political systems in which the guns are largely kept hidden and the Palins are laughed out of the public sphere. Let's mourn Gabrielle Giffords, and the six people killed, and be thankful for that, at least.