Progressive firebrand and former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) recently declared that he held Sarah Palin responsible for stoking a dangerous political climate that led to the tragic shootings of twenty people in Arizona.
“There has been a stream of violence and threats of violence by the right wing against Democrats,” Grayson said Wednesday in an email to supporters. “Gabby warned against it, and then became a terrible victim of it.”
The shooting rampage, which killed six and critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and others, sparked off a debate in which Palin and other conservative figures were denounced for ostensibly poisoning the national dialogue with dog-whistles to violence.
“Palin has instigated it, and then tried to pretend that it doesn’t exist. What do I think? I think that Gabby said it best: ‘We can’t stand for this.’ We have to stand against it,” Grayson said.
Though it’s unclear what exactly motivated 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, the former Alaska governor was criticized for touting a map of the United States with crosshairs drawn on several Democratic districts — including Giffords’ — in the lead-up to the midterm elections.
Grayson has had his own tussles with Palin. He reminded supporters that before the elections, “Palin came to my district, and told her people to ‘take me out.’ Palin told people again and again, ‘don’t retreat, reload.'”
Pundits have urged political leaders to tame the vitriol that has long been a regular facet of US political life, but spiked significantly ahead of President Obama’s election and push for health care reform. The FBI found a 300 percent jump in death threats against lawmakers last year, Politico reported.
Unusually for a one-term congressman, Grayson became a hero of many progressives for fiercely combating Republican attacks on Democratic measures, most notably health care.
The Florida Democrat, elected in 2008, was ousted in November by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) by a large margin.