On Saturday, with a semi-automatic handgun, he shot and he shot. And when he finished shooting (and was wrestled to the ground), there were six dead and 14 wounded. A federal judge – dead. A nine year old girl – dead. A congresswoman – Gabrielle Giffords – in critical condition but alive, her doctors optimistic about recovery.
The shooter himself? The usual expectations. Loner. Pot smoker. Unbalanced. Previous trouble. Worried classmates.
In the face of all this tragedy and barrage of information, what did I also notice as I attempted to make sense of the hopelessly senseless?
One of the things that frustrates me on a daily basis.
It took about 15 minutes (or more likely less) from the last pull of that trigger for finger pointing to start, and it has yet to stop beyond multiple calls for it (including a brilliant one by CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen).
The “left” blamed the “right” which in turn blamed the “left.” He was a tea partier. . . no, he was a liberal and a democrat. . . no, he read the communist manifesto. . .no, he was influenced by Palin. . .no, it is your fault. . . no, it is yours. . .
The fact is a very crazed man (yes, I used the word crazed) who was disturbed for reasons beyond our current knowledge of him, went on a killing rampage. Was it politically motivated? Possibly. But not in the way you would imagine (one friend pointed out it was a politician who was targeted, not anyone else – and recent findings in the shooter’s house support that clearly he went after Giffords). Was it an organized and agenda driven attack? Not likely – read the man’s writings and you will know there was not much coherence there.
Yet now we have new media sound bites to chew over. “Vitriolic Rhetoric”. “Toxic Political Environment” (Gergen’s phrase and one I like).
And while the direct and only blame that is deserved in this particular tragedy must be foisted on the shoulders of Loughner himself, we do have to ask ourselves: when did this savage vitriol start, and does it indeed set out an environment whereby a mentally disturbed man such as this may finally take the tragic action we are all now shocked by.
Every day we see the rhetoric in our papers, on our talk shows, blaring out of our radios and in blogs and our own conversations — from both sides of the political fence. Just last night I was appalled at the horrifying posts being made on Facebook. One – which I had to confess I was not sure was even real, it was so parody-like – involved the effusive use of the words “Right Wing Nuts …. Nazi Propaganda ….” And of course there was the obligatory and oh so charming “Go f__k yourselves.”
As you see, the hate comes from all sides, not just one. Finger point. Finger point.
So how does it stop? None of it is beneficial. Some say “But it is political debate.” No, it is not. It is political division. It exists merely to divide.
Politics certainly contains high passions of both the intellectual and emotional kind. But when exactly did the hatred start? When did the vitriol become commonplace and even expected? When did finger pointing become a national pastime? How and why did we let these individuals who flourish in this come into the equation, and why do we still listen? When did we become so divided? And how do we stop it and return to a useful national political dialogue? And most importantly – why do we always think the “other” side is the one to blame?
What do you think? Looking for your in-cite.
But remember, no finger pointing. If you decide to point the finger at the “other” side, (whichever “other” that might be), consider that a finger may be squarely pointed right back.
And remember the events of Saturday how dangerous that might be. Sometimes a finger pointing can be as dangerous as a gun.
Let us prove here on In-Cite that we do not have to fall into this dangerous trap and can have a non-partisan, intelligent, and constructive dialogue.
Enjoy the conversation.