In the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting in 2011, which left six people dead and Giffords in critical condition, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sent out an email blaming Sarah Palin and others for inciting this violence:
“This horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate,” Sanders said in his January 2011 email, just days after the shooting. “Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred.”
Sanders noted prior incidents in Arizona, such as a pistol falling from a protester’s pocket two years before and Sarah Palin’s now famous “map” in which she placed Gifford’s district in crosshairs, indicating it was a target for Republicans.
Apparently unwilling to dismiss the Giffords’ shooting as the singular act of a crazed madman, Sanders went on to draw broader conclusions from the shooting in the fundraising email and went on to blame Republicans and “right-wing reactionaries” at large.
“In light of all of this violence – both actual and threatened – is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process?” he asked.
“Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?” he asked.
In the email, Sanders went on to praise Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for his statement in the wake of the shooting. But it was not enough for Sanders, who called on McCain to denounce “violent rhetoric” from the right.
“But I believe Senator McCain and other Arizona Republicans need to do more. As the elder statesman of Arizona politics McCain needs to stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing and exert his influence to create a civil political environment in his state.”