The Unfortunate Politicizing of a Tragedy
Shocking as the attack in Tuscon, Arizona was this past weekend, the unfortunate politicizing of this tragedy has also been shocking. The number of news organizations, editorial writers, and other pundits who have sought to establish blame for this tragedy for political reasons has been unfounded and inappropriate. This is not a time to score political points, but to unite with one voice against violence, and for our elected officials to stand in defiance to the terror waged against one of their own.
I was impressed by one of Speaker Boehner’s first acts as the new Speaker by suspending their repeal efforts and showing leadership by stating, “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all that serve”. I thought this showed unity at a time when we needed it and was an example of appropriate leadership during this difficult time. Unfortunately, some in the media, and others associated with this tragedy, have done the opposite.
Almost immediately some were stating that this was due to language used by the far right, Rush Limbaugh (Pima County Sherrif blamed his rhetoric), Sarah Palin using a target graphic in one of her PAC publications, and the Tea Party (see Paul Krugman’s weekend article from the NYT). What is not disputed is that the person responsible is clearly crazy and motivated by hate. A pundits comments, or a political graphic don’t make people hate others, or cause them to commit violent acts alone. We now have evidence that this murderer was a far-left extremist (favorite books including Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto), described by a former classmate as a “left-wing pothead”. Certainly not someone who would fit into the Tea Party mold. Clearly this was a disturbed individual with a long history (police called to his campus 5 times) of strange and disturbing acts, warning of an eminent act of violence. He should have been put in a mental health hospital, he should have received help, and he should have been addressed well before this act took place. Certainly, there is no reason to assign this terrible act of violence to the political speech of one person, party, or group.
We should all watch what we say and keep our political discourse as civil as possible. But now, in this time of turmoil and mourning, no one should be looking to exploit it for political gain by assigning blame, especially when there is no evidence of the shooters motivation.
Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of this horrible attack, and we pray for a fast recovery for Congresswoman Giffords so she may continue to serve her district.