I wonder how Sarah Palin slept last night?
I wonder if she prayed for guidance for her role in a nation where violent rhetoric has become endemic?
I wonder what sermon she heard at her church.
I am haunted -- literally haunted -- by the video of Rep. Gabby Giffords -- appearing on MSNBC in March of 2010 after her offices were vandalized and death threats received. Here is what she said:
"Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action."
Was the killer motivated by Sarah Palin? I do not know. Did the killer know, admire, or even loathe Sarah Palin?
You see, yesterday's shooter was not the first to put Rep. Giffords in the crosshairs. Sarah Palin did that. Sarah Palin identified twenty members of Congress -- on a map with crosshairs of a gun sights as the visual device -- as deserving being removed from Congress because they voted for health care reform.
After the election, 18 of those 20 "targets" were gone, bragged Sarah Palin. Only Representatives Giffords and Rahall of West Virginia remain.
Sarah did not buy the gun or pull the trigger. At this point, she is not in the role of Glenn Beck, who inspired a heavily armed gun man to plan the assassination of leaders of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU. Indeed, she may have had nothing to do with this killer.
But she has an opportunity because she is the one who put the cross hairs on Rep. Giffords -- nobody else did that.
Political change should not come from the barrel of a gun -- actual or metaphorical. Those who imply that it should -- using target shooting imagery -- deserve no place at the table of democracy. Those who speak proudly of second amendment remedies should be called out immediately as the enemies of democracy and not lauded as the defenders of rights.
So far, Sarah Palin has offered up prayers for the victims on Facebook. Her official spokesperson has denied that the crosshairs were just that -- which is laughable at best and obscene at worst. Palin had earlier bragged of the bulls eye of this political work and urged her supports not to retreat but to reload.
Yes, the victims of yesterday's political shootings deserve our prayers. But those who helped create the toxic soup of our relentless 24 hour a day rhetoric where opponents deserve the firing line (as RNC Chair Steele recently said of Nancy Pelosi) deserve a very different sort of prayer.
I pray that Sarah Palin's heart be transformed -- that the hate that so clearly underlies her rhetoric be replaced with love for those she opposes. That she ponders the message of the one she worships -- Jesus would not have put cross hairs on anyone. I hope that in the privacy of her own soul she prays for forgiveness for the rhetoric she has used to win votes, drive ratings, sell books and promote their Facebook pages. I hope that she receives strength to change her path.
Imagine what might happen if Sarah Palin appeared tomorrow and renounced violent rhetoric? What if she said that she would no longer use imagery of guns and targets for those she disagrees with? What if she were to call on all those who admire her to do the same, and promised to call out those by name who continue with violent rhetoric?
That would be a brave Sarah Palin. Any other action is just another cheap politician making bucks off the creation and manipulation of fear.
If you share this hope for Sarah Palin, I hope you will join me in signing this petition: