Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gabby Giffords: "We Must Draw a Bright Red Line Between Political Speech and Suggestions of Violence"

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 3:19 PM

You've undoubtedly heard that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump yesterday alluded to the power of "Second Amendment people" to put a stop to Hillary Clinton and her Supreme Court appointees, should they try to confiscate all of the guns. Y'know, if Obama doesn't manage to get that long-planned job done by the end of the year.

Trump's comments sounded to many like a call to assassinate his political opponent and some of Trump's apologists—like House Speaker Paul Ryan—have suggested Trump made a bad joke. Team Trump insists their man , but Team Trump insists he was serious but didn't mean he wanted Clinton shot, merely that he hoped that those who love the Second Amendment would put pressure on the U.S. Senate to block a gun-grabbing justice. And now we've learned that the Secret Service has talked with Trump about the comment.

Tucsonan Gabby Giffords, the survivor of an 2011 assassination attempt, and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, condemned Trump's language:
Donald Trump might astound Americans on a routine basis, but we must draw a bright red line between political speech and suggestions of violence. Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed.

It must be the responsibility of all Americans — from Donald Trump himself, to his supporters, to those who remain silent or oppose him — to unambiguously condemn these remarks and the violence they insinuate. The integrity of our democracy and the decency of our nation is at stake.
Trump may or may not have been alluding to a desire to see Clinton shot, but here's the thing: His willingness to blow that kind of dog whistle is yet another sign that he is far too reckless to serve in the Oval Office. As Jonathan Chait notes at New York Mag:

One fact that has grown bracingly clear over the course of the presidential campaign is that the campaign is not about any of the normal issues in American politics, but about democracy. The other elections we all remember have pitted two small-d democrats against each other. This one pits a small-d democrat against a candidate who has repeatedly stated that strong leaders crush their enemies, who warns without evidence that Antonin Scalia was murdered and that the election will be “rigged,” who threatens retaliatory policy crackdowns on owners of newspapers whose coverage displeases him, who has asked Russia’s autocrat to conduct a cyberattack on his opponent, and who, today, exhorted his audience to violent insurrection.

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