Sunday, 9 January 2011

Beyond Blighty: Violence and politics

It's often said that the US is a politically divided country. There is a clear split between the progressive left and the ultra-conservative right, but today both sides are united in their condemnation of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and seventeen others, six of which were killed.

It was especially shocking for me as I briefly met Congresswoman Giffords in Texas, eight years ago when she was a State Senator.

In many ways, there has always been some form of divide in US politics. It has been intense in the last few years but there has been little violence compared to the past. In the 1960s, often relating to the issue of segregation, there were many political assassinations in the US, most notably President Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King.

Hopefully Congresswoman Giffords, a rising star in the Democratic party, will recover and the shooting will be a tragic but isolated attack. However, as was seen in the UK after the attack on Stephen Timms last year, it does endanger a fundamental part of a democratic society, which is the right of the people to have access to their elected representatives.

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