Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Former Rep. Ron Barber: "Political Rhetoric and Harsh Vitriol Which Creates This Environment Just Has To Stop"

Former Arizona Congressman Ron Barber has a unique perspective - and many thoughts - on today's shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others at the Republican baseball practice in Virginia. The bottom line is that he is amplifying his call for civility, and for an end to the "harsh vitriol" that dominated the 2016 campaign and since.

"We need to have the kind of political leadership from the White House on down, and the political rhetoric and harsh vitriol which creates this environment just has to stop," Barber told Arizona's Politics this afternoon.

Barber was the District Director for Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when both were shot at close range in January, 2011. Six people were killed and 16 others were hit in the last mass shooting targeting a U.S. Congressperson.  He then replaced Giffords in Congress for 2 1/2 years.

As a result, he knows both Scalise and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (witness/action-taker), and he urges people to join him in being "especially mindful of the families, in addition to the witnesses, the police and those who are personally affected." In keeping with his emphasis on mental health before and after his political experience, Barber urged Scalise and the others to seek out counseling services to deal with today's events. "I did, and I hope they do, too."

Barber notes that he knew Flake well and spoke with him many times - both because Flake and Giffords were friends and because they were part of Arizona's Congressional delegation. Noting how Flake immediately drove to Tucson and spent that January Saturday at University Medical Center during Giffords' struggle to survive being shot in the head, Barber says "I know (the 2011 mass shooting) had to effect him. He has a big heart and is a good person. (But) this may effect him more today because he witnessed it."

"My call then and my call today: more civility in public discourse," Barber concluded.

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