As I have said for years now, such hateful words have consequences. As Giffords presciently warned less than a year ago, so does the violent imagery that has infected our politics.
This feedback loop of hate speech has created an angry environment that inspires the most troubled.
In that loop lives a talk show host who called this president a racist, another who called the last president a fascist, a congresswoman who urges her constituents to be armed and dangerous and a national figure who told her followers to “reload” against her political enemies.
Too many dismiss these extreme eruptions as crass commercial calculations. Saturday taught us that we have to hold bad political actors accountable. It is a shared responsibility. Those with the loudest megaphones have to understand the audience and the actions they risk provoking. Those on the listening end have to know that in America, philosophical differences and personal violence can never overlap.