Gabrielle Giffords and the Tea Party Religion of Peace


With regard to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, it’s very important to remember one thing: the Tea Party movement is a Religion of Peace. Its jihadi-style rhetoric against liberal Christ scorning secularists, and its persistent references to guns, gun sites, targeting, and locking-and-loading are metaphors.

And what are they metaphors of?

Every Tea Party believer’s inner spiritual mastery over his or her own liberal and secular impulses, of course. And the ceaseless Machiavellian war that life really is. Here’s Sarah Palin exemplifying the Tea Party spirit, talking about sports (yes, sports):

To the teams that desire making it this far next year: Gear up! In the battle, set your sights on next season’s targets! From the shot across the bow – the first second’s tip-off – your leaders will be in the enemy’s crosshairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics. You won’t win only playing defense, so get on offense!

The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons – your Big Guns – to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win. Focus on the goal and fight for it.

If the gate is closed, go over the fence. If the fence is too high, pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, parachute in. If the other side tries to push back, your attitude should be “go for it.” Get in their faces and argue with them. (Sound familiar?!) Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!

In other words, life is jihad with attorneys. Deal with it. Gabrielle Gifford’s opponent in last November’s election, like Sarah Palin, represents what public-spirited democratic politics should look like in the U. S. of A.:


And here’s how the Movement of Peace attracts people to an anti-Giffords rally:


And Sarah Palin shows everybody how to get out the vote in Gifford’s district. Right on, Sarah!:


No regrets expressed by Sarah over that ad. Not before the shooting of Giffords. Not after. Why should there ever be? And here’s how to do a conservative tweet to reload the conservative spirit. Amen!:


Remember, this is all metaphor. Generating a climate of intimidation around movement resisters is the furthest thing from any Tea Partier’s mind. No Tea Partier would ever really want an unstable person to decipher Tea Party messages literally and snap. Tea Partiers promote the possession of semi-automatic weapons for hunting purposes only. The Tea Party movement is a Religion of Peace.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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17 Responses to Gabrielle Giffords and the Tea Party Religion of Peace

  1. andrewclunn says:

    Wow Santi. You just crossed a line. When we say that Islamic terrorists commit violent acts in the name of Islam, one of the biggest reasons for this is because if you ask them (one’s who’ve been thwarted and detained, or in their pre-suicide mission videos) they say that they do it for Allah. When ALF members commit terrorist acts, they are up front about why they are doing it. Where is the note here saying that this guy was a Tea Party member? You want to see his YouTube channel?

    What the hell can you take away form that? How are you in any way associating his actions with the Tea Party? Because the target was a Democrat? Shame on you for trying to score cheap political points with no good evidence for your accusations.

    • I have a question, stolen from another forum. What do you think would be the response from the right if a Muslim, somewhere in America, had put up this exact same material (no calls for actual murder, etc) and had some Republican officials on their target list with crosshairs and all the same crap? Except they used Islam as their foundation, and all their rhetoric was skewed that direction? Do you think you would feel the same way? Do you think these same righties, who are the target of this Palin material, might be coming out of the woodwork for the head of the guy making the site?

      • andrewclunn says:

        The problem with hypotheticals is that they require the person to fill in several blanks with their own imagination. So in my mind, no if someone said, “The Republicans hate Islam! We need to make sure that the Democrats win these contested elections! Vote, because you’re very right to practice your religion is under attack! here are the contested elections!” And then they put up a simmilar graphic, then months later a Republican politician were killed by gunman, but there wasn’t anything to suggest that he was Islamic, I would certainly not assume that he killed in the name of Islam.

        Now if he said “Allahu Akbar!” as he did it, then I’d say it was Islam. Just as if this gunman (Jared Loughner) said he did so because he, “hates the evil socialist Democrats” or something liek that, THEN you’d have a case that this was Tea Party inspired. As it stands he’s said nothing, his videos and myspace page scream, “I’m fuckign crazy!” not “I’m a proud member of the Tea Party!” and there has been NO evidence that connects him to the Tea Party. That’s why saying as much constitutes a reprehensible politically motivated attack.

    • You are right that it is quite possible this guy has no link at all to the teaparty or their crazy rhetoric.

  2. Paradigm says:

    I think this critique is legit. The Tea Party movement has a rhetoric of violence and it would be naive to assume that some may be influenced to commit act out this rhetoric in actual violence. And Andrew: why would he need to be a member to be inspired by their rhetoric? Doesn’t make sense.

    The line not to be crossed is rather that regarding freedom of speech. If someone says the Tea Party people must be banned from speaking this way, that’s when you have a problem.

  3. santitafarella says:


    When Tea Partier politicians show how “hard” and “radical” they are by brandishing weapons, using gun metaphors in politics (a gun is not an argument, as Rand used to say), and by making sane gun laws in the United States political kryptonite to even advocate . . . and then a crazy person shoots a Jewish congresswoman in the head with a semi-automatic pistol he bought at some local depot store, it’s silly to claim the Tea Party climate is not a contributing factor. Is any individual member of the Tea Party subculture responsible for this person’s behavior? No. Does the general ethos of the Tea Party make such acts more likely. Yes. Vastly so.

    When a Muslim kills in the name of Allah, it’s no other Muslim’s fault, but it is the Quran’s fault. The book contributes to a climate of aggression for cranks. The Tea Party’s ethos is also a channel for the crank ethos, and the leaders of the movement cultivate that ethos, and send messages out that signal to that ethos.

    This doesn’t mean at all that I would ban speech, even hate speech. It’s informative. It tells me who not to vote for.


    • andrewclunn says:

      But you have yet to show that the shooter here was a member of the Tea Party. That all makes complete since IF he’s a Tea Party activists / supporter. But there is no evidence suggesting that he is. Also, this is an article probably worth seeing:

      • santitafarella says:

        Yes, some on the Left have put some horrible things on the Internet. No denying it. A crazy person could see that stuff and seek to harm conservatives with violence in response.

        Here’s the difference: none of these people who put that stuff on the Internet are elected Democratic officials, or people running for office in the midst of a campaign.

        Sarah Palin was the VP nominee of the Republican Party. Jesse Kelly was running for Congress. I’m sorry, but there’s a difference. The ethos of Manichean hate and intimidation is being actively ginned up by the Republican Party and its base media outlets (radio and Fox). It’s pure thuggery. And a congresswoman has been shot in the head as a result. And a judge and nine year old girl has been killed, along with others.

        The reason these things are more likely is because Republicans have made a deal with the devil: they are willing to play with the margins of fringe Birchite and militia craziness because it stirs their voters. But it sets a tone for the culture that is ultimately bad for democratic civility. It makes such incidents more probable (even as you can have plausible deniability regarding each new incident). It’s a cynical game Republicans are playing. The Holocaust museum shooter got the same treatment. As did the abortion doctor assassin. The cultural link can always be denied. If Obama gets assassinated it will be the same routine: nobody’s fault but the shooter. But no expressions of regret by those who ginned up persistant Obama hatred and hysteria.


  4. santitafarella says:

    Another issue here is motive and opportunity. A crazy person’s motive could be his breakfast cereal talking to him, but here is what is undeniable: if you are motivated to treat American elected officials as traitors or conspirators, the Tea Party sends out persistant messages that you are sane to do so. And if you are looking for opportunity, the Tea Party assures that no American politician will touch your “right” to purchase a semi-automatic weapon.


  5. TomH says:

    “Kill Bush! Put a noose around Sarah Palin’s neck on Halloween!” From your moderate liberals.

    Funny, I don’t recall Santi ever complaining about leftist bombastic rhetoric. (I never had any problem with it since I realized that it was purely metaphorical. But if you can score cheap political points with dimwits….)

    I also don’t recall Santi ever railing against instances where union thugs beat up conservatives/libertarians in the last election…. Do I smell selective criticism?

  6. Pingback: OMG ! These People (the Tea Party) are Arocious ! | lurking chihuahua

  7. Wow. I’d seen some of these, but not the images collected together like this.

    I really like how you’ve characterised the tea party as a “religion of peace”

    If I may, I’d like to share my own response, as an outsider which has had a fair bit of comment on my blog

    thanks Santi

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