On the tragic shooting in Tuscon
I realize that the temptation is to instantly politicize the tragic shootings for political gain. Dave Weigel at Slate tried to actually make such politicization acceptable:
Nobody wants to talk politics right now. But this was an assassination or an attempted assassination; it’s inherently political. Last year, some Republican politicians used Second Amendment references (remember Sharron Angle and “second Amendment remedies” if Harry Reid didn’t lose) and revolutionary talk to express how angry they were about the state of their country. They strongly and vehemently rejected the charge, from Democrats, that they were encouraging an atmosphere of violence — especially in the week after the health care vote. When Giffords’s opponent held a fundraiser and pitched it as “help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office, shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly,” Democrats saw the specter of violence, and Republicans saw political posturing.
And we can run through the list of national and local blogs on the left that seized the opportunity to attack Sarah Palin, the Tea Party movement, Republicans, bloggers, and anyone else on the political right.
I understand that many on the left they have a hard time believing that any of them could ever commit a horrible violent political act. They are pure as the driven snow, so long as we ignore the anarchist that killed William McKinley, the anarchist that attempted to kill Theodore Roosevelt, other anarchist terrorism, the Weather Underground, the SLA, The Black Panthers, the many 60s radicals that rioted and burned cities and college campus buildings, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Unabomber, the Earth Liberation Front, Greenpeace, the Seattle rioters, and others.
As it turns out, the shooter, Jared Loughner, probably has more in common with the Sterling Hall bombers than anyone on the right. He was described by someone who knew him as a bit of a pot head, a political lefty, disruptive in school, and “oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.” Oh yeah, he like Ayn Rand (her first novel), but he also liked the Communist Manifesto and did a YouTube video of a burning American flag. From what we can see online, he appears to be a really mentally disturbed individual and certainly not a Tea Party member.
The truth is, we have no clue yet about Loughner’s motives. There may even be a second suspect. It’s going to be some time before we have any idea why Loughner and possibly somebody else committed these acts of murder. Even then, I doubt that we will have any sense of a coherent political identity, if for no other reason than he has not demonstrated any coherent political identity so far.
I would challenge the political left to back away from some of the terrible rhetoric today accusing individuals on the right of inciting this violence, especially when it’s probably not the case.
I would also ask that all of us pray for the victims of this terrible crime today. At least nineteen people are reported shot, and six are reported dead. The target, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D), is alive but in critical condition with a head wound.
Included among the dead is a nine-year-old girl. As a parent of two small children who often accompany me to political events, the idea that someone would fire on so many bystanders just sickens me.
Also included among the dead is at least one political staffer. I’ve obviously met and talked with a number of political staffers over the years, many of them much younger than myself. I can’t imagine that any of them would ever imagine something like this happening. I also don’t think that today’s tragedy will deter them (although it may make a few mothers encourage their children to attend business school instead).
Federal Judge John Roll also was killed in the shooting. Roll was appointed President George H. W. Bush on the recommendation of Senator John McCain. Roll was apparently friends with Giffords, a lesson somewhere in this terrible tragedy that despite political differences we should keep the battle to ideas, not people.
President Barack Obama said today, “what Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other so at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers.”
Far better to come together than to try to score political points in today’s tragedy, I think. I would challenge the President’s supporters to live up to the President’s words.