After the recent shooting in Arizona that wounded 12 people and killed six, Sarah Palin received criticism for running television advertisements that featured crosshairs over the district where the shooting occurred. Specifically, an Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, who was outspoken against Palin and the Tea party was injured. Associate Professor of Politics Dennis Plane discusses the topic further:
What was the purpose of Sarah Palin’s use of crosshairs in her ad campaign?
She used crosshairs to highlight districts the Tea Party could potentially win. For example, a district where a Democrat held office but there was a greater number of Republican voters. When trying to gain seats, you go for the low-hanging fruit.
Do you think she was rightly criticized for putting crosshairs over Giffords’ district?
I think that it was inevitable for criticism to arise around a touchy, high profile event such as this. Was it fair? I’m not sure, but it wasn’t quite unfair. Palin and the Tea Party has received a lot of criticism lately for their questionable tactics and rhetoric.
Do you think that there might possibly be a link between the ads and the shooting?
There is no evidence to think so.
What do you think of Palin’s response that the criticism was “blood libel”?
She has a way of saying questionable things. To me, the statement was certainly not anti-Semitic, but clearly not well-disciplined either. It was not well thought out: why use an obscure, confusing term like “blood libel” when “false accusation” is so much simpler? To some the Confederate flag is racist, to others it is not, but you would not use it in politics claiming that it is not. Palin has a history of doing things like that. As an effective response it was disastrous: it made her seem more of a loose cannon.
What do you think of the use of guns/ gun references in advertisements in general?
Politics is filled with military rhetoric. A politician’s run for office is called a “campaign”. Back-and-forth TV ads are referred to as the “air war,” canvassing and telephone polling is sometimes referred to as the “ground war.” “Targeted districts” is the term for an area of particular political interest that Palin represented with actual targets. This language is usually kept more behind-the-scenes and it may have been a little indiscreet for her to bring it into the open, but it was not unusual. What makes this situation a little more unusual is that Giffords had previously spoken out against Palin’s target campaign.
-Joe Aultman-Moore ’14, Juniata Online Journalist