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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Twitter didn't shoot Gabby Giffords, nor did the voters

The US has a long history of political violence at times of policy stress, and the shooting of Gabby Giffords is unlikely to halt it. After Lincoln's assassination in 1865, Americans went on to kill 24 of their political officials by 1877, including a senator, two congressmen, three state governors, ten state legislators and eight judges. It was only after President Garfield's assassination in 1881 that this wave of political violence began to subside. More recently from the '60s to early '80s four out of six presidents were targeted by assassins, one successfully and one almost so. And not only Robert Kennedy but George Rockwell, John Lennon, Malcolm X, Medgar Evans and Martin Luther King all met their ends at the assassin's hands. And believe it or not, not one of the assassins of the above had a Twitter account or Facebook page. 

Curiously, Congresswoman Giffords' shooting comes at the same time as Jack Straw's crude attempts to inflame racial hatred in advance of the Oldham by-election. And slightly awkwardly, on the same weekend that the Mail publishes Richard North's piece on why politicians should fear the voters. North writes:

It is my belief that the rot starts at the top. But for answers, you need to go back to the great Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. 
He saw how the people and their governments should relate, declaring: ‘When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.’ There lies my conclusion, gained from a lifetime of experience at all levels of government. Our ‘rulers’ have lost their fear.
You have only to go down to the Houses of Parliament or Downing Street to see this. Our masters have retreated behind concrete barricades, blastproof windows, policemen with machine guns, armoured limousines and riot police. The political classes are now a gated community. They feel safe. They are not afraid of us.

Richard isn't advocating assassination of course; he's making the point that the isolation of the political class from our world has resulted in not only protection from physical attack but in the impossibility of getting any of them to take the blame for anything, that they're protected not just from the assassin's bullet but from all public accountability. 

Gabby Giffords was shot by a mentalist. Nearly all US political assassinations have been carried out by mentalists. Only two that I know of - Wilkes Booth who killed Lincoln and the anarchist Czolgosz, who killed McKinley - were ideologically motivated. That mentalists are provoked by the robust political debate around them isn't a reason for stopping robust political debate, but nor is it a reason to insulate the political class from responsibility. And the fact that mentalists now have open access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube isn't a reason to blame the medium - if anything, the new media are providing an unprecedented early warning of mental instability.  Squaring the circle between protecting those in public office from mentalists whilst exposing them to the wrath of the electorate if they screw up is not going to be without problems, but we must achieve it if our democracy is to remain healthy.  


Anonymous said...

Richard North's comment is worth keeping in mind. Our Ruling class has indeed withdrawn into their keep.

I visited one of the Warsaw Pact countries just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. There too, the politicians had withdrawn into their gated communities, but with a difference - their withdrawal was not of their making - it was the populace that had built a wall of exclusion around the political class, just like a living body will make hard core around a foreign object.

Once trust was established that I was not a state spy, I was privy to their confidence. To protect their own sense of identity and sanity, the people had developed a deeply cynical and ironic sense of humour. The bitterness had entered the soul of the people.

I knew then that the downfall of the communist state was not far.

Anonymous said...


Richard North also wrote that when he was young, he could not understand the cruel way the French revolutionaries had dispatched their former rulers. He now understands.

Bill Quango MP said...

Not to fundamentally disagree with your point, you are being a bit harsh.
The USA had just completed the bloodiest civil war ever. The country was completely divided. Slaves set free, former slaves installed into the legislature of the conquered south. Families destitute, reconstruction slow.Rights and Freedoms under the old constitution not restored.
Such is civil war.

If you think back just to our recent IRA past you have the entire government attacked in Brighton. Mortar bombs aimed at Downing street. Mountbatten, Anthony Berry, Airey Neave and many others.

There doesn't seem to be any info but I'd be surprised if in a twenty five year period the UK wide political dead didn't amount to 24.

Jonathan Stuart-Brown said...

Dr Richard A E North is “The Godfather of Britain’s fifth estate” ie internet journalism and campaigning.

His work on the truth of Qanagate was magnificent...with his usual forensic detail style.

He deserves to be honoured.

A film or TV documentary should be made about Dr Richard North’s starting the lonely but noble campaign against deploying Snatch Landrovers in Iraq (at huge cost to British lives, limbs and family life) against literally billions being spent in bogus PR by The MoD with a hopeless BBC just printing the bogus PR for years…and having the courage, tenacity, stamina, persistence to win and be proved right. The unpardonable sin. They hate him as a result.

A TV documentary series should be made on his book “The Great Deception” which is the only detailed analysis of all EU treaties. People need to know it matters as this is where our laws are being made.

Moreover a documentary series should be made about his book called “Scared To Death” about the scares which have led Governments and moreover pan-Government bodies move against personal political freedoms won over centuries and move to Global Governance (which by definition has to be permanent and unelected).

His magnificent blogging on exposing the lie of global warming, the bogus science, the corruption behind it, deserves a documentary and an Oscar. Maybe they could strip Al Gore of his Oscar and give it to Dr Richard A E North ?

It is absolutely true that Government Departments, quangos and Council Leaders now routinely ignore letters from MPs and even the media.

Ironically they only fear the mob and these are now only galvanised by mob leaders or celebs…which is why they really matter.

If Simon Cowell, Susan Boyle, Cheryl Cole, Wayne Rooney, Alesha Dixon, Jordon, Robbie Williams, Take That, Lady GaGa, Jonathan Ross, Catherine Zeta Jones, Lily Allen, Liz Hurley,Peaches Geldof, Mylene Klass, soap stars and celebrity chefs, sport stars, spoke out against the global warming myth, the 1.3 million windmills the Government want to build, the threat to our electricty energy supply in an age utterly dependent on computers or Snatch Landrover type campaigns then David Cameron would jump to change policy.

They do fear celebs. Council officials and bureaucrats fear celebs who can mobilise the mob. This is also why quangos and charities and council departments spend hundreds of millions each year in paying them to hand out prizes or attend events.

Dr Richard A E North needs just one celeb to read his stuff to become a real force in the nation. He is already but his campaigns and forensic analysis get diluted by others including the Westminster bubble.

non mouse said...

Oh, well done for this h/t to Dr. North. And what Mr. Stuart-Brown says too.

I say we have a huge task if we are to participate in, or contribute to, the rehabilitation of our civilisation. Dr. North is pointing the way towards that. Surely one of our first steps is to publicize and highlight
these kinds of truth, including
such straightforward, honest analysis of them.

Well done. Thank you.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

imho you are being a bit hard on Straw.

He was brave enough to draw attention to something that's a big problem (very big if you're one of the young victims), just not quite brave enough to use the M word.

Given religion of peace's propensity to violence, one can hardly blame him; we all know what he meant.

Dead Dog Bounce said...

Mr. Yachtsman,

I too was inclined to give Mr. Straw kudos for finally acknowledging the elephant in the room.

However, since Woolas was also trying to get out the White working class vote in Oldham East when he got into trouble, perhaps we are being too kind to him.

He's never been afflicted by vision or principle before, why would he go against type now, when there is petty electoral advantage to explain his actions.

I guess the answer will come to us in the coming months. Does he repeat his comments, and actually try to solve the problem, or not?