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Political violence has evident roots, from Giffords shooting to U.S. Capitol mob
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Political violence has evident roots, from Giffords shooting to U.S. Capitol mob

  • Vandalism at U.S. Rep. Gifford’s office in March 2010.
    courtesy Gary JonesVandalism at U.S. Rep. Gifford’s office in March 2010.

We have seen the word “unprecedented” used many times to describe recent events, including Wednesday’s insurrection and riot at the U.S. Capitol, incited, according to Sen. Mitt Romney, by the president of the United States.

Given yesterday’s acts of violence and tomorrow’s 10-year anniversary of the Jan 8, 2011, attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, I would encourage all Arizonans to take a long view to understand the context.

The Tucson Sentinel and many other news organizations reported the vandalism that occurred at Rep Gifford’s office, and other offices across the country, after the Affordable Care Act vote in March 2010. I took the photo here at 3 a.m. on March 22 of that year, because my wife, Joni Jones, was office manager for Giffords and when the burglar alarm went off, she got the call. Together we went to the office. Joni would have been at the January 8th Congress on Your Corner (she had never missed one) except I took her to San Diego that weekend.

To my mind, there is a straight line connecting that “unprecedented” political violence, with the vandalism described in the Sentinel as “…never seen before in response to a vote…,” through the Sarah Palin "target" placed on Congressional District 2, through the attempted assassination that resulted in the shooting of Giffords and 17 others, resulting in the deaths of 6 Tucsonans.

I know many will say the January 8 shootings were the result of a mentally ill individual, not a political act, but who is most susceptible to misinformation or outright lies if not the mentally ill?

OK, so maybe it is a dashed straight line not a solid straight line, but apparently 120 Republican representatives in Congress and 6 U.S. senators still think the 2020 election was fraudulent in some way — despite there being no evidence of fraud to be found in some 60 court cases to date. They are complicit in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol which was carried out by the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers, QAnon adherents and the 3%ers.

They should know better. Shame on them. Shame.

They should be held accountable and voted out of office if not unseated.

It is clear that the sophistication and reach of for-profit algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media, which further dissension and delusion to get increased engagement with their platforms to sell ads, has escalated misinformation and lies into dangerous vitriol and real violence in which 4 people died at the U.S. Capitol yesterday.

And Sarah Palin, Lou Dobbs and others are falsely claiming it was Leftists who attacked the Capitol.

So what can we do? There is lots to do. We must collectively take action if we wish to stop the unleashing of political violence in our beloved USA. We must break the back of the organizations that participated in the insurrection.

It is time for true American patriots to stand up for truth and demand better from our leaders.

At the federal level, we can all call and write your senators and representatives in Washington to do the following:

1) Removing Trump from office automatically at the end of his term on January 20 is not enough. If not removed by the 25th Amendment, at a bare minimum, he should be impeached and convicted, barred from seeking further federal political office.

2) Use the Patriot Act to designate the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers and other loosely affiliated groups that participated in the insurrection as domestic terror groups and make membership in these groups illegal.

At the personal level, each of us can do the following:

1) Disengage from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter until they are either regulated to stop the propagation of dangerous lies and misinformation or they do so on their own.

2) Get our news from primary verified sources.

3) Vocally, visibly and persistently stand up for truth, using data, science and facts.

4) Organize and vote out of office at every level those who seek to undermine our democracy in the name of a false patriotism

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