Karela Fry

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Power comes from the barrel of a gun

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ABC reported, along with many others the shooting of a centrist politician in the state of Arizona:

The shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona has raised questions about the incendiary tone of political debate in the United States and the role it may have played in inciting violence.

A lone gunman walked up to congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she was conducting a public meeting at a Tucson supermarket on Saturday (local time). He shot her at point-blank range in the head.

Bloody mayhem followed as 19 people were shot in a matter of minutes. Six people were killed, including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge.

Eyewitness Dr Steven Rayle, who helped restrain the suspect, said the gunman looked focused as he fired indiscriminately into the crowd.

“He looked determined and somewhat detached from what he was doing, which was just spreading mayhem and carnage,” he said.

The shooting has sparked national soul-searching about the inflammatory tone of recent political debate, a discussion set off by comments made by the sheriff investigating the case, Clarence W Dupnik.

“The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital,” he said.

The immigration debate has been especially heated in the state which is close to the Mexican border.

More broadly, political candidates, especially those aligned with the grassroots Tea Party movement, have increasingly invoked violent imagery.

A campaign website by former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin put gun targets across several congressional districts, including congresswoman Giffords’s and urged voters to “reload”.

There are uncanny parallels to the killing of Salman Taseer. Of course the victims are radically different: the political systems of the US and Pakistan are widely different; Gabrielle Giffords is a popular elected politician, whereas Salman Taseer held his post by appointment; the US is a working democracy with institutionalized support for dissent, something missing in Pakistan. The parallels are not in the lives and careers of the victims; they are in the ideology of their political opponents. About the Taseer assassination, HT reported:

Pakistani authorities have detained two suspects for their alleged role in influencing guard Mumtaz Qadri to assassinate Punjab governor Salman Taseer, a media report said on Saturday. One was picked up from Lahore and the other from Rawalpindi, sources close to the investigation told Dawn News on Friday.

Scrutiny by investigators of the killer’s mobile record led to their arrest, the sources said, adding that a few days before the crime Qadri had met one of them in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.

Taseer was shot dead on Tuesday by Qadri, who was member of the governor’s special security squad. He fired nine bullets from close range as the governor was coming out of a coffee shop towards his vehicle in Islamabad.

The sources said that during the interrogation, Qadri had stood by his earlier statement that he was not under any influence and killed the governor for his remarks on the blasphemy law.

Half the world away from each other, the assassins subscribe to extreme right-wing views which lead them to kill their political opponents.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

January 10, 2011 at 4:47 am

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