“Don’t Retreat, Instead RELOAD”
Tell that to Christina Taylor-Green, she was shot and killed along with 5 others last Saturday in Tuscon, AZ. The nine year old student council member aspired to serve her country one day.
The now infamous words tweeted by Sarah Palin, “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” now hold more significance for anyone trying to make sense of the shooting. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, one the of victims, was also listed on the now infamous “Take Back the 20” target list on Sarah Palin’s official Political Action Committee website. The final third in this trinity of hate is a map charting the targets using gunsights, with the words “We’ve diagnosed the problem…Help us prescribe the solution,” reeks of Third Reich propaganda. This trinity may not incriminate any one individual, they do successfully incriminate the propaganda machine operating by the political right and conservatives throughout the country. The violent political rhetoric in America has reared itself in a traumatic and deadly form.
While Palin did not shoot the 9mm handgun; her rhetoric and the rhetoric of those spewing the same hateful messages (ex. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh) play a major role in todays violent political climate. The use of fear, hate and violence to move forward a political agenda is not alien to the United States. Whether we explore the history of the Ku Klux Klan or the bombing of a Oklahoma Federal building, terrorism is no stranger in the United States. What does this mean for our democracy? What does the reality of the shooting in Arizona mean to our country?
Jared Loughner’s alleged (innocent until proven guilty, right?) shooting rampage at a public event hosted by a U.S. Congresswoman represents a distinct reality in America. These events expose a tangible truth about our country. Loughner fired off at least 31 shots on Saturday using a high capacity ammunition magazine. He is now charged with an attempted assassination. This charge confirms much of the speculation behind what motivated Loughner to open fire at a public event, shoot a Congresswoman in the head at close range, wound 13 people and kill 6 individuals. The whole picture of the 22 year olds politics is not clear, I along with many others are waiting with anticipation to learn more.
Violence, hate and fear are as American as apple pie. We just tend to keep it locked away like a damaging family secret. This secret, like many of the incidents and occurrences shrouded in revisionism and plain untruths, puts the potential of our democracy in danger. The very fabric of our country is like a constantly growing patchwork quilt. Every piece adds to the prosperity, narrative and strength of America.
What can we learn from this? When you know better you are SUPPOSED to do better. Just as violence, hate and fear exist in America; hope, change and progress endure the same. Which side will we choose to stand on? What values will we choose to possess? The challenge is clear, so is the choice. I beg you not to retreat from the heavy task to build a freer, more loving and just society. I beg you to instead reload your minds with the knowledge and values needed to move everyone forward. Don’t retreat in fear, reload with hope. The time is ripe with immediacy, begging for a choice to be made.