Imagine this scenario (it shouldn’t be hard): a moderate politician hated by conservatives who comes from a party despised by religious fundamentalists. This politician supports a progressive policy that inflames right-wing leaders who call for violent reprisals. Then, one day, the official is gunned down by a lone nut inspired by hateful and paranoid political rhetoric.

No, I am not talking about the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson over the weekend. I’m talking about Salman Taseer, the moderate governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province who was shot 26 times by his own bodyguard. Because, you know, 25 times would not have been enough and 27 would have been over the top.

Taseer was targeted by Pakistan’s conservative elements for being too moderate. Granted, in Pakistan, being moderate means that you still think blasphemy should be a crime. It just shouldn’t involve the death penalty. His bodyguard disagreed.

“Analysts say the assassination is significant not simply because of the person targeted and the reason behind it, but because of the broader societal implications.

“[It points to] the presence of radical elements inside the Pakistani state apparatus,” Cyril Almeida, an Islamabad-based analyst and columnist, says.

He says that the fact that Taseer’s own bodyguard shot him is not just worrying because it indicates a failure of the vetting process, but because it points to “the extent to which this poison has affected the Pakistani state. The investment in jihad has come home to roost”.

Preliminary investigations point to [the bodyguard] acting as a lone assassin, and Almeida says he likely picked up his religious ideas not from secretive radical groups, but from public discourse.

“He was probably just an average man, who would pick something from the mosque, from TV, from a newspaper, and then one day decides that ‘this’ guy is against Islam and that he must die,” Almeida said.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst, believes that it is an atmosphere of religious intolerance that allows such attacks to happen.

“In the public sphere you will find statements by religious leaders, and in this case religious leaders had specifically pointed to the governor as a person who was engaged in ‘un-Islamic’ activities, and they accused him of many things,” Rizvi told Al Jazeera.

“I think those statements definitely played a role [in the assassination].” – AL JAZEERA

You know things are getting weird when Al Jazeera is worried about extremism. And although America hasn’t turned into Pakistan yet, I’m starting to worry that we’re going down that road. Religion plays a much more direct role in Pakistani politics than it does here (I know, that’s hard to imagine but it’s the case).

In Pakistan, the state is powerless against the conservative political elements which inspired Taseer’s killer. So much so that conservative and religious leaders there aren’t even bothering to try and deflect responsibility. To the contrary, most of them are openly celebrating it.

Here, politicians and other public figures on the right are out in force today too. Yes, they are making the obligatory statements of grief and shock about the Giffords shooting. But they are clearly more concerned with the political fallout this will have on their party and their politics.

The Republican Party loves to blame rap music for urban violence. They also love blaming Marilyn Manson for every school shooting that takes place. And they can’t stop blaming Hollywood for everything from teen pregnancy to gay marriage… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But when a right wing jackass with a handgun guns down a Democratic congresswoman, ranting and raving about health care and government overreach, well you can’t blame them for that. No, no, no. Bad apples and such.

Lost in all of this is the youngest and perhaps most tragic victim of the shooting Saturday. She was a nine-year-old girl named Christina-Taylor Green.

Murdering elected officials is obscene. And the tragedy of what happened cannot be downplayed. But politicians and judges, here or in Pakistan, are grown adults who understand that public life comes with a certain risk. Christina-Taylor Green was not a political official. She was not even political. She was a child with her entire life ahead of her.

Last year I too lost a child. My ten-month-old son died from a viral infection which entered his bloodstream and attacked his brain. And while I won’t claim that my own situation is identical to that of Christina-Taylor Green’s parents, I can attest to how such a senseless tragedy can profoundly affect your life and put all of this into a different perspective.

His passing ultimately forced me to confront my own mortality and the reality that we are all going to die one day. You. Me. Bill Clinton. Oprah Winfrey. The guy down the street. All of us. For that reason I have no patience for the kind of bullshit being spewed by Republicans this morning.

Hey, this is a free society. If you want to walk around with a rifle over your shoulder and use paramilitary jingo then so be it. If running around wearing fatigues pretending to be George Washington makes you feel like a man then go for it. If you want to crack jokes about assassinating The President of the United States or Nancy Pelosi then be my guest.

If you can’t make a coherent argument and need to rely on trying to frighten people with violent rhetoric, well, it’s not my place to say you’re wrong. But grow a fucking spine and stick to your convictions. That’s what they do in Pakistan. Killing a child doesn’t bother you. Not when political gain is involved. Just say it.

And yes, the Republican Party killed Christina-Taylor Green as surely as that little fart with the Glock did.

Yes, Sharron Angle, you killed Christina-Taylor Green when you told your supporters to seek “second amendment remedies” should they fail at the polls.

Yes, Sarah Palin, you killed Christina-Taylor Green when you told your supporters to “reload” if they lose their elections and put crosshairs over their congressional districts.

Yes, Michael Steele, you killed Christina-Taylor Green when you approved a TV ad showing armed revolutionaries saying “gather your armies” during the health care debates.

Yes, Mike Huckabee, you killed Christina-Taylor Green when you urged NRA members to bring weapons to political rallies and then joked that President Obama should shoot himself before someone else did.

Yes, Pat Robertson, you killed Christina-Taylor Green when you suggested bombing the U.S. State Department because diplomacy was getting in the way of whatever psychotic Armageddon fantasy you believe in.

But don’t expect any of these clowns to take responsibility for their words like grown adults. This isn’t Pakistan, you know.

Not yet.



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: