Monday, January 10, 2011

After Giffords Shooting, Tea Party Under Siege

Under siege from politicians, activists, and commentators' attacks on their members' rhetoric, Tea Party and conservative activists now face the frustrating task of defending their movement even as they grieve with the rest of the nation. Almost immediately after news broke of the Arizona shooting, which claimed six lives and left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for survival, liberal commenters on Twitter began circulating links to a campaign map from Sarah Palin's Facebook page featuring crosshairs over Giffords' district. A spokeswoman for Palin, Rebecca Mansour, told talk-radio host Tammy Bruce on Saturday that the map had nothing to do with violence and it has since been removed from Palin's website. In the wake of the shooting, Giffords' father identified "the whole Tea Party" as enemies of her daughter and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik warned that Arizona has become a "Mecca for prejudice and bigotry" and that anti-government "vitriol" may have played a role in the attack. A number of Democratic lawmakers called on politicians to tone down their rhetoric in response to the tragedy, including civil-rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who cited an "atmosphere and climate that makes it almost impossible for us as Americans to reason together."For Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, it's been a trying 24 hours. Audibly shaken over the phone, she said her first instinct throughout has been to keep the victims in her thoughts and prayers, saying that as a mother of 7-year-old twins she was particularly horrified by the death of a 9-year-old girl, Christina Tayloro Green...more

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