Update, 1/11, 5:00pm: see below for updates on story including debunking a Daily Kos myth and how NE GOP Chair Fahleson is reacting instead of leading.
The tragedy in Arizona has everyone in politics pausing, reflecting, and hoping that this horror just might serve as a moment that begins to take our country down a different path.
Unfortunately, it seems the Nebraska Republican Party’s leadership did not get the same memo.
I have to admit, I truly thought that Governor Heineman would have decided to discontinue his 3-day inaugural schedule of parties. And I similarly thought that the Republican Party would have chosen not to continue to hold their regular meeting on Saturday just to come out with such partisan plans for our state’s “officially non-partisan” state legislature.
Alas, I was wrong.
But, what is most shocking is the fact that the Nebraska Republican Party Chair, Mark Fahleson, has two blog posts with a picture of Senator Nelson sitting square in a bull’s eye on a target.
Just like Sarah Palin’s poor taste in her a graphic targeting of several Democratic seats with cross hairs, Mr. Fahleson clearly decided it would be okay to put a picture of Senator Nelson right in the middle of a gun target.
Sadly, Republican Chair Fahleson has yet to apologize for his decision or to take it down.
I just found out about this image Sunday night, thanks to blogger Kyle over at the New Nebraska Network. Once we heard about it we put up a message on Twitter and Facebook.
I can just hear Mr. Fahleson and several others on Twitter or on Leavenworth Street accusing me of politicizing the tragedy.
Let me be clear. I am not. You can not equate keeping elected officials accountable with using violent images.
We, as a society, cannot just turn the other way when a party official puts one of our elected leaders’ face on a bull’s eye.
It is wrong…pure and simple. And to her credit, even Gov. Palin was willing to offer her prayers and condolences to all the victims of yesterday’s tragedy. Palin also removed some other images and tweets, but we have yet to see an apology from her.
Given yesterday’s tragedy, an elected official cannot and should not just hold a series of parties without commenting on the scars or at least deep retrospection that the shooting of an elected official should have for each of us.
A glance at Governor Heineman’s website shows that our flag’s status is full staff, which is surprising given our own state’s tragic school shooting. Heineman also does not have a word about the Arizona attempted assassination.
As Speaker Boehner said today, “an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.”
I only wish the Nebraska Republican Party and Governor Heinman had articulated the same concern for our democracy.
All weekend I have questioned why I am in politics and will the partisan divide ever get better? Will we ever get to a place where we talk about ideas without accusing one another of being “evil” or “un-American” simply because we may share a different opinion or point of view, a society where we keep each other accountable while we lead with shared values not hatred or fear?
I hope we will get there, and am confidant we can.
But first, and in order to do so, I hope Mr. Fahleson can apologize to Senator Nelson and to all Nebraskans for the damaging and dangerous image on his website.
I hope he will…and I will continue to hope so until he does.
Action: If you want to take action, Rep. Giffords’ husband released a statement asking people to give to the food bank in their community. We suggest giving, in Rep. Gifford’s name, to one of Nebraska’s food banks which you can find at Food Bank for the Heartland or the Mid-Nebraska Food Bank. Let us know on Facebook if you take action.
Update, 1/10, 7:40am: Politico reports that NE GOP Mark Fahleson has taken the image down from his website. He has yet to apologize to Senator Nelson and Nebraskans for using this type of image. We hope he will go beyond moving the image from his website and apologize.
Update, 1/10, 10am: Governor Heineman updates the state’s website to respect putting our flags at half-staff. Thank you Governor Heineman.
Update, 1/11, 4pm: On Twitter, we invite some conservative and progressive groups to join us in planning a meeting on how we can all improve civil political discourse in our state.
Update, 1/11, 5pm: The Omaha World Herald covered the story in today’s paper. We have asked OWH to correct how they describe me, since I run a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group that has nothing to do with Democratic politics. Our complaint and call to NE GOP Chair Fahleson was to take the bullseye down, apologize to Senator Nelson and Nebraskans and vow to not use imagery like that again. Instead, Fahleson has not accepted responsibility and blames us and blames partisan politics. Both convenient talking points but do not get to the heart of the matter. Additionally, the OWH states a similar image was used on Daily Kos, however Media Matters just published a story de-bunking that myth.