Saturday, January 15, 2011

Multi-layered tragedy of Tucson

The Right Word
By Kelly Sloan
I spent an inordinate amount of time last Saturday like many in America, watching painfully repetitive news coverage surrounding the awful business in Tucson, which left 6 dead (including a 9-year-old girl and a Federal judge) and 13 wounded, most conspicuous of whom is Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the presumed target of the attack.

The shooting was a tragedy on several levels; on an individual and personal level, the lives that came to an untimely end – especially the life of young Christina Taylor-Green, the little girl whose life was bracketed by tragedy, having been born on 9-11-01. It may be so that her life was of no more or less value than any of the others killed that day, but as the father of a daughter roughly the same age as young Christina, it is difficult for me not to internalize the particular horror associated with such a life being so cruelly stripped from its young host.

On a larger level, the shooting in Tucson is a tragedy in a more collective way. It is an affront to our shared base morality, our sacredly held concept of the rule of law, to the benefits which civilized man justly expects from western society, and to the very system that has been built over the centuries and secured by the blood of generations. That a classic exercise in American self-government was so violently interrupted at all, is a tragedy in and of itself.

Serving as an additional affront, and adding another, entirely unnecessary level of tragedy, is the choice by some on the left to politicize this horrible event, and exploit the crime for political purposes.

The echoes of the gunshots had scarcely faded before a select, repugnant few in the liberal media – chief among them Paul Krugman, and Keith Olberman – had began blaming the tea party movement, the Republican party, talk radio, Sarah Palin – anyone who’s ideology runs counter to theirs.

As a mild example, a New York Times editorial brazenly admitted on Monday that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner was by all accounts eccentric, unstable, and “well beyond usual ideological categories” (an understatement of epic proportions). The erstwhile newspaper of record then goes on, however, to shamelessly suggest that this guy represents a “squall of fear, anger and intolerance”, a very thinly veiled reference to the tea party movement and general voter anger. The NYT followed that up by suggesting (who did not see this coming?) that the gun used was the real problem, and calling for stricter anti-gun legislation. One hopes that the NYT editorial board is not insinuating that it would have felt much better about the whole episode had Loughner plowed a Prius into the crowd instead of shooting into it.

All available evidence points to the shooter as being a severely mentally disturbed madman. This did not stop political opportunists like Krugman and others from rushing with venomous abandon towards the prefabricated conclusion that this was a politically motivated act, spurred by the symbolism and rhetoric employed by their political opponents. This disturbing tactic is designed to silence, or at least handcuff opposition by equating it with the worst man has to offer.

Rather than standing with the overwhelming majority of Americans – including an overwhelming majority of Republicans and tea partiers – in offering comfort for the families of the slain, and praying for a full and speedy recovery for Rep. Giffords, these political vultures, to use Victor Davis Hanson’s apt term, choose to use the horror of the day to eke out political points. I am confident that this is most emphatically not what Rahm Emmanual had in mind when he spoke of not letting a crisis go to waste.

As of my writing this, President Obama’s reaction to this terrible incident has been honorable and appropriate, offering condolences to the victims, and the assistance of the federal government to the State of Arizona, as needed. He has refrained from shifting blame off of the perpetrator and onto his political enemies. Let’s hope he does not fall to the depths that some in his ideological corner have been inhabiting of late.

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