Aftermath of the Arizona Shooting, Comment and analysis from Qatar, Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, India, Australia, Canada, and South Africa,January 12, 2011

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Al Jazeera,
Doha, Qatar, (Jan. 9): On the face of it there is nothing to link the death of the Pakistani governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, and the shooting of Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. But there is. In each case both politicians stood up for one thing: debate. Both incidents have one thing in common. Taseer and Giffords put unpopular subjects on the table. Taseer wanted a reasonable discourse on Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Giffords wanted immigration to be talked about in a reasoned manner. Taseer faced incredible criticism for his words by Pakistan's religious right wing. … Giffords was also incredibly unpopular with the right wing in the United States. Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer said that Giffords earned a place on the "hit list" of Democrats that Sarah Palin wanted to unseat and won a third term only after a close competition with a candidate sponsored by the Tea Party movement.

Haaretz, Tel Aviv, Israel, (Jan. 9): Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin removes from her website a graphic of a gun cross-hairs to urge followers to "reload" and "aim" for Giffords and other Democrats. … Jesse Kelly, Giffords opponent in the November election, urged followers to "Get on target for victory" and help "remove" Giffords from office at a June event in which participants could shoot an automatic rifle.
Daily Express, London, England, (Jan. 11): American politics has long been termed “a contact sport,” but finally the contact has turned so bloody senior politicians are looking hard at the effect that hyped-up aggression is having on the electorate, especially those with severe personality orders but also easy access to guns. … Although there is at present no firm evidence that Loughner was influenced by the language of political discourse, the national debate that his actions have engendered is overdue in a country where radio “shock-jocks” and even mainstream TV broadcasters—of both the Right and the Left—push the boundaries of acceptable debate. … Gun-toting Sarah Palin, a woman who is frankly still intellectually unqualified to hold the highest office, told supporters, “Don't retreat, reload” and notoriously used rifle cross-hairs on a map showing target constituencies, including that of Gabrielle Giffords.

France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, (Jan. 11): The shootings, which claimed the lives of six people, including a federal judge, a congressional aide and a nine-year-old girl, have prompted outrage throughout the U.S. and sparked a debate over gun control measures and whether toxic political rhetoric fueled the incident. … At the International Space Station, Giffords' brother-in-law, Scott Kelly, the commanding officer, spoke over the radio as flight controllers in Houston fell silent. “As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is not. These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words. … We're better than this,” he said. “We must do better.”
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul, Turkey, (Jan. 10): Giffords, herself, had spoken of her concerns about the U.S. political atmosphere, even before the shooting. In an interview when her office was vandalized after she voted to support President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives. Later she spoke of Sarah Palin's decision to list Giffords' seat as one of the top "targets" in the midterm elections. … "For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Giffords said in a television interview during the 2010 congressional election campaign.
The Guardian, London, England, (Jan. 10): Intolerance breeds intolerance—no matter what religion or race you are. … A nasty human trait, intolerance, especially when fundamentalism appears to be on the rise in response to the challenges of globalisation. But none of our societies can point the finger elsewhere without taking stock closer to home, can we? We do not yet know for certain what motivated 22-year old Jared Lee Loughner to run amok in Tucson. But he seems to have the profile of a suicide bomber, nerdy, and ill-educated, a slightly weird kid with simmering resentments against society in general, all whipped up by angry websites and anti-government rhetoric.
India Times, New Delhi, India, (Jan. 11): While Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords lies in induced coma in a hospital, the U.S. political arena is roiling with debate over whether Palin bears any responsibility for the attack because of her use of a crosshairs in targeting the Democratic lawmaker's constituency during the mid-term election last year. … What lent some credence to the liberal charge was the alacrity with which the Palin camp took down and disowned the "target map."
Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, (Jan. 11): So much resentment in the land of alienated patriots. … We might ponder how easily the suspect became one of the 40 percent plus of Americans who own a firearm. There is a strong correlation between the number of guns in a society and deaths resulting from them. ... It is surely not a coincidence that the U.S. has a homicide rate more than four times higher than Australia's and 12 times higher than in Britain and Japan. … Four of the five most likely contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, including Palin and Gingrich, are on the Fox payroll. Palin has become the de facto leader of the Tea Party, a movement within the Republican Party which takes its name from a pivotal moment of revolt in the American War of Independence, and calls on today's 'American patriots' to 'take back' their country. … The people these patriots are being urged to take their country back from are other Americans.
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario, (Jan. 10): Susan Bonner of CBC News said that rightly or wrongly a lot of focus in the U.S. has turned to Palin's role in inflaming the political debate in the United States. Obama has called for calm. … Nonetheless, online petitions were cropping up online Monday calling for Palin, a likely Republican presidential contender in 2012, to face federal charges for "inciting violence" against Giffords and other Democrats.

Mail & Guardian Online, Johannesburg, South Africa, (Jan. 11): Gun violence is common in the United States but political shootings are rare. The rampage in Arizona has prompted lawmakers to review their own security. … Investigators were looking at a rambling Internet manifesto left by Loughner or someone writing under that name. … In Denver, federal prosecutors charged a Colorado man on Monday with threatening gun violence and arson against U.S. Senator for Colorado Michael Bennet in the days before the Tucson shootings. [ note: Colorado was one of Sarah Palin's electoral targets.]


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