Last night, Rebecca Mansour, one of Sarah Palin’s top aides, had this to say about her boss’ role in yesterday’s tragic shooting in Tucson:
I don’t understand how anyone can be held responsible for someone who is completely mentally unstable like this,” Ms. Mansour said. “Where I come from the person who is actually shooting is culpable. We had nothing whatsoever to do with this. (source)
As Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote in Breakfast of Champions: “Bad chemicals and bad ideas are the Yin and Yang of madness.” Yes, the shooter was probably mentally unstable, which may account for “bad chemicals” in his brain, but where do you think the bad ideas came from?
The social context in which this horrific event took place was one of hatred and intolerance, promulgated by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sharon Angle and so many supposed leaders who irresponsibly and subtly (sometimes, not so subtly) fanned the flames of violence.
Then, Ms. Mansour, went a step further with this unbelievable quote about the shooter:
She added: “People who knew him said that he is left wing and very liberal. But that is not to say that I am blaming the left for him either.”
Instead of taking this time to rethink the wisdom of gunsight maps and quotes like “don’t retreat, reload”, Sarah Palin’s focus is on deflecting blame.
Words have power. They can galvanize people to work together for a better future, as they did when so many of us rallied around the words “Yes we can”. But they can also be used to tear us apart. Yesterday, we all received a frightfully vivid demonstration of the destructive power of words.
It’s true, Sarah Palin didn’t pull the trigger. And yes, the shooter was probably a very disturbed individual. But to all of those people who promoted, with a wink and a nod, target maps and “second amendment remedies”: today you have blood on your hands.