Tragedy in Tucson
January 10, 2011 7 Comments
A lone shooter in Tucson, Arizona killed Judge John Roll, 63; Dorthy Murray, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Christina Greene, 9; Phyllis Scheck, 79; and Gabriel Zimmerman, 30. Several more were seriously injured.
Judge Roll began as a bailiff in the courts and worked his way to the bench. He was appointed by President Bush Senior. Gabriel Zimmerman, engaged to be married, was the director of community outreach for Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords — herself shot in the head and in critical condition. Dorwin Stoddard was a pastor at Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. Christina Greene was a student at Mesa Verde Elementary and had just been elected to the student council.
There are no words that make sense of such massive loss.
But there are words that distort and exploit that loss. Paul Krugman in the New York Times as quickly as it is possible to post one’s notions: “We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was.” Krugman, ignoring the six dead, then noted that Representative Giffords was opposed by the Tea Party, and that opposition to health care reform was like “the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.”
That is so disgusting and beyond the pale that it will likely have the opposite effect that Krugman would wish, which couldn’t happen to a nastier guy. Krugman’s unseemly eagerness to pin horrible tragedy on political opponents is precisely the cynicism that gave rise to the Tea Party. The liberal surge of finger-pointing and condemnation is the most morbid and repugnant evidence of cultural decay in the 21st century.
And had it happened the other way around — had high-profile conservatives been shot — I can fairly surmise that conservatives would have pointed to incendiary leftist rhetoric and demonized liberals, and I would then say, as well, it’s the most morbid and repugnant evidence of cultural decay in the 21st century.
There is a diabolical determination among liberals and conservatives (I am neither, consistently) to stay exactly what they are, demonize the other, and hear only what reinforces the foregoing. I am sick of it. I am sick of the cheap political scoring. I am sick of the common impulse to say horrible things about other human beings simply because they are the politically abstract other. I am sick of fighting against pathological hatred of hate. I am sick of liberals and conservatives only reading the cheerleading liberal and conservative confirmations of their biases. And I am really sick of the self-satisfaction of anger-mongers and righteous haters.
Anyone who has spent ten minutes in the public policy arena knows that no political development matters a fraction compared to our human connections and the things that bind us. When we look back at our lives from the final perch, it never matters that Obama or Nixon or Roosevelt got elected. It matters that our connections to human beings were real, that we loved well, that we were loved for good reasons, and that there was some laughter and good will.
So what do we do with the slaughter in Arizona?
Let’s start with the obvious. We make a moral judgment. He is disgusting. Not because of his politics, whatever they may be, but because of his actions. What he did is disgusting, and we can call it that because we all agree there are lines that cannot be crossed. At a fundamental level, it does not matter what motivated him, what happened to him in his childhood, what growing-up nastiness his defense lawyer will dredge up — he murdered people. So I don’t care a whit about what conjured horrors brought him to this place. He murdered people. Nothing in his background hasn’t happened to hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t murder people. So no sympathy.
Now the trickier question. Who else is responsible? Should we look to a “climate of hate” so that we can pin this murderer’s actions on someone else? Are conservatives “in denial,” as a Facebook post asserted, if they don’t take responsibility for this slaughter?
“Denial” is the province of the demonizers. And the rush to blame political opponents for tragedy is revealing. A lone lunatic — with no known connection to any political party or movement — opened fire in Arizona. Among his favorite books were Hitler’s Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto — interestingly, from the right and the left, tomes focused on power and single-minded formulas, the natural obsessions of a deranged mind. What has emerged from his internet presence indicates a deeply deranged mind.
And speaking of obsessions, has the bizarre hatred of Sarah Palin finally scored? Did her use of some martial metaphors like “lock and load” and “targeting” push the repugnant lad over the edge and cause murder? Was she arguably responsible for a climate of hate that caused violence when she said, “if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”?
Oh wait, that wasn’t Sarah, that was Barack Obama in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign. But he was just funning, being literate, using a ha-ha metaphor. Democrats don’t mean it, but Republicans, being invariably literal rather than literate, always mean, no really, “lock and load” and shoot to kill.
And Sarah certainly welcomed actual death with her chart — all the rage on the internet — “targeting” certain congressional districts with “bull’s-eyes” (i.e., the things that guns, or more specifically, rifles, shoot at). Again, Democrats did exactly the same thing, using “bull’s-eyes” for “targeted” districts — but they were just funning, using a metaphor.
I’m no apologist for Sarah Palin, or Republicans, or conservatives, or the Tea Party — I just get sick of the double standard. Liberals scold anyone who suggests murders by Muslims might be inspired by murderous Islamist ideology — let’s get the facts first (and that’s good) — but evidently take less interest in getting the facts first if conservatives can get right properly tarred with murder.
That is a sickness in our politics.
There is a myth nurtured by the left that its disgusting fringe is less disgusting than the right’s disgusting fringe. No. Both fringes are equally disgusting — except that left-wingnuts enjoy a lot more play and forgiveness than right-wingnuts. Nearly all Americans have no sympathy for either — which is exactly why the effort to pin mainstream conservatives or liberals with wingnut abomination is doomed.
One sick f*ck shot people in Tucson. Bring him to justice, without hysteria, and try not to burn hordes of “witches” in the process.
UPDATE 1-15-2011: Former Carter pollster Pat Caddell calls Krugman an “asshole.” Not a fan of the name-calling, but Krugman did crawl into a lower intestinal space.