Reject Violence as the Weapon of Choice
On January 8 in Tucson, Arizona, six people were killed and thirteen injured in a violent crime directed against elected representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords was re-elected in 2010 as representative for the Tucson area in the House of Representatives. The young man involved, Jared Lee Loughner, came to a public outdoor meeting Giffords was holding with constituents. He attempted to kill her and then opened fire on the crowd. Loughner is apparently mentally ill.
In the aftermath of the shooting a discourse has unfolded on who to blame and how to respond. President Barack Obama, speaking January 8 said, “We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.” John Boehner, new Republican Speaker of the House said, “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Such acts of violence have no place in our society.” He said “This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling to represent our constituents and to fulfill our oaths of office. No act, no matter how heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duty.”
Sarah Palin, leader of the Tea Party and potential 2012 presidential candidate, initially offered condolences but otherwise remained silent. However, much was written about her use of crosshairs on a map targeting 20 Democratic candidates during the last Congressional elections, including Congresswoman Giffords, as well as her calls of “Don’t retreat, reload.” Similar use of metaphors and violent content by advocates and various talk show hosts have been blamed for instigating a climate for the shooting. Various Republicans and talk show hosts countered with Obama’s campaign statement saying “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Few have forgotten Obama’s comments at the White House Correspondents' Dinner concerning use of predator drones. Speaking to the three Jonas Brothers in the audience, a teen pop band popularized by the Disney Channel, Obama, referring to his daughters said, “Sasha and Malia are huge fans. But boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.” This shows the extent to which violent metaphors are used even in a social context.
Several things stand out in the discourse, mainly by their absence. There appears to be general consensus that this was a “senseless” and “inhuman” act of violence that “has no place in a free society.” That it was the act of a “deranged madman,” or as radio talk show host and Palin backer Glenn Beck put it, “there are nut jobs on all sides.”
But how is it that when an individual uses such violence against civilians it is because they are a “deranged madman” or a terrorist, but when the U.S. commits such acts of violence abroad, it is not considered in the same terms? How is it that the targeted assassinations, drone massacres, bombings of wedding parties, torture and aggressive wars carried out by the U.S. state are not considered inhuman acts of violence and terrorism with no place in a free society? Are we to dismiss these acts by concluding the perpetrator is also seriously mentally ill, as in the case of the Arizona shooter? How will drawing such a conclusion provide a solution? Certainly, in the case of the Arizona shooter, one would not argue that he is fit to govern or that he should be made a head of state. Why would we think that those who seek to justify and authorize such violent acts abroad are fit to govern? The U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization thinks this is a serious question worthy of discussion.
Clearly those in power have abandoned political solutions and are using violence as the weapon of choice to avoid providing economic, political, cultural and social problems with solutions that serve the polity. In our opinion that is what is to blame for the Arizona shooting and it is unacceptable. We say No to the Use of Violence to Sort Out Conflicts at Home and Abroad!