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Don’t point the finger at Palin when it comes to Ariz. shooting

A gunman opened fire, killing six and wounding 14 outside a supermarket northwest of Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday. But rather than expressing concern and extending prayers for the victims, including the recently re-elected U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, many have diverted their attention to a political advertisement former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin released several months ago.

The ad consists of a U.S. map with crosshairs labeling 20 Democratic representatives who voted for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul last March. Giffords was among those targeted in the ad.

Links to Palin’s map and comments blaming her for the tragic attack immediately inundated my Twitter and Facebook feeds Saturday after news media reported the incident.

“Coss-hairs (sic) on a map!!! Come on!!! … how can you even sleep at night?” Ara Talaslian commented Sunday afternoon on Palin’s Facebook post, in which Palin expressed condolences for the shooting victims and their families. “God be with you and your family for the burden you will now bear for a logn (sic) time.”

I wonder if Talaslian — or any of the others loosely tossing around accusations against Palin — actually knows anything about the shooter or his motives, besides that he “was a deranged crazy person.”

My guess is that they don’t, considering the authorities investigating the attack have limited information on the suspected shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner.

“The authorities have not asserted any specific political motivation to the shootings other than to say that Ms. Giffords was clearly the intended target,” The New York Times reported Sunday.

Loughner had exhibited abnormal, disruptive behavior in recent months, prompting administrators of Pima Community College, where Loughner was enrolled, to suspend him until he received a psychological evaluation. Loughner instead withdrew in October.

While Loughner’s mental state is unknown, his actions and online posts “are consistent with the delusions produced by a psychotic illness like schizophrenia,” The Times reported.

I find it sickening that people have the audacity to assert a connection between Palin’s map and Saturday’s heartbreaking attack. I don’t care if you disagree with Palin’s politics; accusing her of wishing for, and in fact promoting, such an act is callous and offensive. Fabricating such an association is rash, misguided and narrow-minded.

Please, grow up and stop exploiting every situation to bash Palin. I firmly believe she only wants this to be a better world for everyone to live in — even if she expresses it in a way some might find unfavorable. I know Palin would not have wanted Giffords to be hurt, and I know the intent of her map was not to put out hits on those 20 political figures. It clearly was meant to urge Americans to vote the listed Democrats out of office, not to assassinate them.

“Let’s take back the 20, together!” the ad says in red writing of the 20 districts Republicans controlled in 2008.

Palin has acted professionally and abstained from responding to the recent wave of conjecture that she was somehow connected to this young man’s aggression. She displayed class, posting nothing more than her condolences and prayers for the victims.

“On behalf of Todd and my family,” Palin posted on her public Facebook page, “we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”

I urge everyone to follow suit and pray for Giffords and the other victims of this violence. What will help these people and their families are your prayers. What will not help them are half-witted attacks against Palin and the politicization of an otherwise apolitical incident.

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