As police continue their investigation into what prompted a man to walk into a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood and start shooting people, the nation is left in that unsettling gray zone between being able to call this tragedy what it is and pretending — some more desperately than others — that it could be anything else.
While most politicians hedge their bets and refuse to call this act of terrorism an act of terrorism, Bernie Sanders just pointed out the elephant in the room. His refusal to pretend the elephant is not there means the rest of us can’t do so either. So let’s face it: Right-wing hate speech bears some responsibility for what happened in Colorado Springs. To think that Republicans could continously slander Planned Parenthood with lies comparing them to “baby killers” and murderers and not provoke a violent response from some of their least stable supporters is lunacy. Words have consequences.
On Twitter, Sanders made that concept abundantly clear. While standing up for Planned Parenthood, he blasted Republicans for their ugly rhetoric.
I strongly support Planned Parenthood and its work and hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 28, 2015
He simultaneously released a statement that explicitly called out the lies propagated by Republicans this summer stemming from fraudulent videos released by a pro-life activist group.
“While we still do not know the shooter’s motive, what is clear is that Planned Parenthood has been the subject of vicious and unsubstantiated statements attacking an organization that provides critical health care for millions of Americans. I strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work it is doing and hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.”
Republicans who had hoped they could score cheap political points by spreading lies about Planned Parenthood (We’re looking at you Mike Huckabee) have been put on notice. You need to OWN this tragedy. Pro-life? Not when it comes to spreading dangerous ideas about a group of doctors and nurses whom you happen to disagree with.
It’s nice to see that there is at least one politician out there who isn’t afraid to call out the Republican hate machine that peddles in this sort of thinly-disguised violent rhetoric.
As if to demonstrate their guilt, the entire Republican presidential field has been uncomfortably silent in the wake of the shooting spree. No calls for prayer. No condolences to the victims. Just deadening silence. It’s almost as if their consciences are feeling an unsettling twinge deep inside their chests and they don’t know what to make of it. Guilt will do that.
Feature image via Bernie Sanders