2011-01-11 Plea for tolerance and humanity

On March 25, the glass panel door at Gabrielle Giffords’ office in Tucson was vandalized and destroyed, apparently in anger directed at her recent vote on healthcare. When asked whether she was afraid, she said no. Nor was she afraid, on that day, of Sarah Palin.

Are you afraid? Are you fearful today?

You know, I'm not... we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve got to realize that there’s consequences to that action.” (Source)

Sarah Palin is also well-known for the violent rhetoric she uses to expound her depiction of Democrats as ‘the enemy’. Her solution: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" (Source)

Reminiscent of the same variety of hate speech is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign against the energy tax:

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.” (Source)

On March 24, 2009, Rep. Bachmann showed up outside the White House holding a shotgun. She called upon “thousands of loyal Americans to march here this morning, with whatever weapons they have on hand … anything that’s going to let the Washington Elite know that we are serious!” (Source)

The implication is that Democrats and other opponents are not merely opponents in the political arena, they’re dangerous enemies. The weapon of choice recommended for the people: Not argument, not peaceful protest, but gunfire. When Gabrielle Giffords was shot point blank in the head Saturday morning by a shooter who killed a total of six people and wounded 14, the idea of “being at war with our own people” lost its status as a metaphor. Incitements of violence appear to have become clear prescriptions for action.

Gov. Jan Brewer called the shooting “an assault on democracy” and many others are calling it a direct and natural result of the right-wing campaign of hatred and fear. Ironically, Palin told Glen Beck this weekend that she hates violence and war. "Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence." (Source)

Yet the political campaign to depict Julian Assange and his supporters as terrorists has been under way for some time now. Palin herself suggested Julian Assange be hunted down "like the Taliban."<.em> Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters insisted that Julian Assange "should be killed," adding the qualification, "but we won't do that." He then added that Mr. Assange should be on a "kill or capture list."

Similarly, Bob Beckel of FOX News has asserted that a "dead man can't leak stuff," adding:

"This guy's a traitor, he's treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States. And I'm not for the death penalty, so there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch." (Source)

Hence as an organization that aims to inform and protect the people from injustice and violence, Wikileaks calls on "U.S. authorities and others to protect the rule of law by aggressively prosecuting these and similar incitements to kill.”

And as we contemplate the causal connection between violence and demands by government and military personnel to break the law and take up arms against Julian Assange and others, Private First Class Bradley Manning deteriorates both mentally and physically in a 12 x 6 solitary confinement cell for having acted in accordance with his conscience when he exposed horrendous war crimes which themselves have not been investigated. Murder and indiscriminate killing cannot continue to be modus operandi either in war or in a democratic society that presumably aims to house opposing views and promotes a fruitful exchange of ideas.

WikiLeaks' plea to the people of the United States, and to the world, is to treat the incitement of violence seriously and to take a hard look at the current state of affairs. If ever we're left with the political dilemma of whether to grant someone The Nobel Peace prize or try him for treason, we can rest assured that something is profoundly wrong with the political discourse that gave rise to the question in the first place.

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