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Thursday, January 20,2011

Op-Ed: Guns and rhetoric

The Greater Lansing Network against War and Injustice’s (GLNAWI) position on the Tucson shootings

by GLNAWI
Thursday, Jan. 20 — In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we ask everyone to be tolerant and compassionate towards fellow human beings and speak out against hatred and bigotry.

The shootings in Arizona pose questions that cannot be separated from political issues. Unlike many conservative commentators, we believe that political climate, rhetoric and issues concerning gun ownership have a bearing on the political impact surrounding these shootings.

Gun control
GLNAWI subscribes to a philosophy of non-violent protest. We oppose resorting to violence in all events, especially as a political act. We believe that gun ownership should be subject to restrictions and limits; there should be legal restraints on the purchase of weapons; there should be better enforcement of gun laws and adequate funding for enforcement; and there should be more effective background checks.

Hate speech and its link to immigration
GLNAWI subscribes to political actions grounded in non-violent speech acts, including rhetoric concerning immigrants. We oppose the xenophobic discourses that have targeted immigrants, especially as this is a country built on immigrants and their children. We oppose laws like those in Arizona that target non-white people in ways that demean them and limit their rights. We believe there is a clear link between the violent treatment often accorded these populations or those who support their rights, like Congresswoman Giffords, and the extremist rhetoric deployed in the immigration debate.

Vitriolic political rhetoric
We deplore the politically vitriolic rhetoric of commentators like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin, which has generated a climate of fear beyond what is reasonable. Even if we cannot assert that their rhetoric was a motivating factor in this event, we are concerned that it is a factor in the larger political climate, thus enabling politics of violence and repression. Further, we deplore the jingoist political rhetoric that made tolerable the posting of images like gun sight targets directed at those with whom some might disagree. There is nothing patriotic about the rhetoric of ultra-nationalism and fear.

— Greater Lansing Network against War and Injustice

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