At a press conference following the attack (on US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords), the Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, blamed political vitriol for fuelling the attack.

"People tend to pooh-pooh this business that we hear about all the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living doing that," he said. "That may be free speech – but there are consequences."

He said Arizona had become "a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry" and that "people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol".

I can perceive no difference in type between the so-called Tea Party in the U.S. today and Hitler's National Socialist Party in Germany during the late 1920s.

The U.S.A. may be a kind of democracy but its population does not behave in the way the people of mature democracies, at least strive, to behave. Their commitment to the democratic process is tentative and what other commentators have likened to the "Law of the Wild West" still supersedes the ballot box in the minds of many Americans.

For democracy to prosper and create a peaceful, productive political environment it must be grounded in communal common cause. The main enemy of democracy is not disagreement per se, disagreement is healthy in a democracy, but tribalism. There is tribalism in the United States as much as there is in Pakistan, India, Sudan and Nigeria. Those whose "vitriol" caused the deaths in Tuscon yesterday claim to be "true" Americans in the same way Hitler's followers claimed to be "true" Germans. But they are not "true" citizens of the country they inhabit. They are a tribe of bigots who hate the American socio-political experiment that was so dear to the hearts of the founders of the Republic.

Sheriff Dupnik fears that the actions of the political right in the U.S. can encourage the "unbalanced" to acts of violence. The rest of the world fears that the political right in the U.S. is, itself, unbalanced and is a madman whose sociopathic view of anyone who is not itself is as much a danger to the peace of the world as the mindset of the fundamentalist, psychopaths who kill and maim those who are not themselves in the name of Islam.



  1. Oh, my. What a startling montage of images to log on to so early in the morning (for me, here in the Central time zone).

    Yes, I quoted that statement of Sheriff Dupnik myself last night.

    Everything you say here is, of course, utterly true.

    And it’s truly sickening.

  2. Totally true, MP. Scares me to death, which is just what the tribal ones want. They will cheer to know it.

    It scares me that one of these wingnuts, whose name I will not post here on the public blog, has gotten access to the email addresses of TEC clergy to send us a crazed message claiming to speak directly from God, threatening destruction unless we do what he says. I wish I knew how to send that email to the feds.

    Now, off to church, to preach brotherhood in the power of Christ’s baptism.

  3. Tribalism has risen with great force in our day. I am of the generation that hoped we would emerge from it. We were dewy-eyed and, well, naive. The phenomenon does not bode well, especially when politicians embrace it.

  4. In ages past, “Those Abundantly NOT Like Me” (TANLM) mostly lived far away.

    Now, TANLM are always on our screens and, even moreso, in our Hearts of Darkness.

    For those w/ a weak sense of “me”, TANLM pose an existential threat: “I may DISAPPEAR into their Not-Like-Me-ness!”

    Now, just add automatic weapons… (Lord have mercy)

  5. How many atheists do you see doing this?

    I can’t think of any examples in the US. But in the USSR, along with atheism, assassinating their political enemies was party policy.

  6. Exsqueeze me, Anon?

    MANY (not all—probably not most) atheists are “fellow believers”.

    They’re just believers in No-God. They can be as nutso fundy about their belief, as are (too many) theistic believers!

  7. MP cited the USSR.

    I’d like to add Communist China; have a look at the Cultural Revolution.

    Perhaps the Khmer Rogue too, but I’ll have to double check that one.

    And to some degree, Nazi Germany.

    I can think of one person whose orders led to the deaths of millions: Josef Stalin.

    There have been LOTS of atheist regimes and atheist leaders who have been FAR MORE deadly than the attack on Saturday.

    I live with a historian and I’m sure we can come up with a lot of examples of this. If you really want to go there, we can.

  8. He’s the historian. 🙂

    I wanted to add for Anon: there is the possibility that the gunman Saturday is a non-believer.

    Please note that all of the people in this photo montage that MP made were religious or had a religious belief, and they were all attacked by their opponnents…

    JFK was Catholic.
    MLK was evangelical Christian.
    Gabby Giffords is Jewish.
    Jesus was Jewish.

    So how is it that all of these people were religious and they were the ones who ended up being targeted?

  9. I think MP is trying to tell me to stfu.

    Joe’s a Gemini. There’s multiple personalities all wrapped up in one body. He’s all of it.

  10. There’s multiple personalities all wrapped up in one body.

    You’re just being greedy then.

    By the way, I’m a Gemini. Nuff said, really.