Human tragedy has illuminated a new stage of political protest in America. While the Tea Party does not promote violence, it most certainly creates an unstable environment that endorses fear and paranoia, two factors capable of motivating aggressive acts. Perhaps these factors have done that in Tucson, Arizona.
President Obama has called the shootings in Tucson an “unspeakable tragedy,” while he called for a more civilized public discourse on national issues. Six people were killed in Saturday’s shootings, including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge. The target for the attack was Democratic Representative, Gabrielle Giffords.
The event that unfolded on Jan. 8 was disastrous, committed by a mentally ill individual. Yet that does not make the event unworthy as a reflection of the political climate in the U.S.
Discontent with our seemingly ever-growing government has brought many to political radicalism. The murderer in Tucson is not a model of the political activism taking hold in America but a representation of anti-government action. This hatred is not a new phenomenon and may be associated specifically with the Tea Party.
Let’s be clear, the Tea Party is not a terrorist organization, but according to Dr. Dipak Gupta, professor of World Peace at San Diego State University, “it’s a very amorphous movement.” Since the Tea Party has not clearly defined its goals, it has been able to attract anyone dissatisfied with the state of our union.
This allows political extremists and even conspiracy theorists to become active members within the Tea Party.
Dr. Gupta writes, “If they move where they not only talk about what the problem is but also point out who the culprits are, who the enemies are, that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Their signs at rallies send a clear message: “Wake Up Dems, it’s ‘We The People,’ Not You the Dictators” and “Obama and His Marxist Buddies Are After Your Freedom.” Both of these signs display the paranoia that has taken over the Tea Party’s logical reasoning.
The channeling of this anger is vivid throughout U.S. history. As Dr. Gupta points out, when cotton prices dropped during the South, lynchings increased dramatically, and those who were identified as enemies of the state felt the wrath of its people. Paranoid commentators, like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, point outraged citizens in Obama’s direction.
I doubt Loughner was part of the Tea Party, or even approved of the party system we use in the United States; however, the violence stems from the political climate we have seen recently. If one strays away from the conservative values the Tea Party preaches, they immediately identify you as an enemy of the party.
They call themselves true patriots, but it has never been the American way to be indifferent to alternative ideologies. They blame the Democrats as American dictators without introspecting their own ruthless reign.
We can apply this perspective to the shootings in Arizona, because Jared Loughner, the gunman, was concerned the current government had disregarded essential parts of the Constitution. His own paranoia, exaggerated by the violent and hateful rhetoric used by the Tea Party, motivated him to become violent.