I wrote a blog entry recently about Sarah Palin’s “bulleye” image with crosshairs over districts of Democratic members of Congress that Palin & Co. wanted voted out of office… In it, I found myself in the unusual position of defending Mrs. Palin, who is often the topic of scathing entries on GatorUptown.com instead. But I really do feel like she’s being unfairly blamed for the shooting this weekend.
Having said that, I’m starting to get cranky about Team Palin insisting that there was nothing violent in the imagery used in their campaign efforts.
SarahPAC staffer Rebecca Mansour has been defending Mrs. Palin since the news scandal broke about the shooting and its implied connection to the figurative gun sights on “targeted” Democrats.
“We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights. … It was simply crosshairs like you’d see on maps.”
Now, here’s where my cautious defense of them breaks down. I totally agree that it’s going to far to say that Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on Representative Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords in Arizona because of Mrs. Palin’s political urgings. And I think it’s clear that the “Take Back the 20” campaign was about coordinated efforts to vote out politicians with whom Palin’s crew disagree, not about actually advocating gun violence. But they can defend against an overreaching accusation without trying to change the plain reality of the situation.
Obviously the metaphor is intended to be militant, evoking the image of guns and attacking your “enemy.” Politicians and political activists on both sides of the aisle use this kind of language regularly, unfortunately. Trying to back-pedal now and insist that you were just using symbols from a map? That’s ridiculous.
C’mon, Team Palin… You can’t possibly expect to rewrite history and take back inappropriate language, any more than the rest of the political world that uses similar phrasing and imagery. (Yes, I’m including Democrats too — this isn’t a partisan issue, it’s unfortunately very common.)
Own up to the poor choice of words, commit to being more mindful, and set an example to your followers. Remind the public that we are all Americans, and we all want the best for this country and its citizens, even if we disagree on exactly what that is.
Emphasize that we can be political opponents without being enemy combatants against one another, and that we should all choose our words with that principle in mind. But don’t try to convince us that you didn’t have a gun metaphor in mind when you put crosshairs on opponents’ districts.