A Tragedy of American Proportions

“Self-anointed “journalists” should keep such opinions to themselves until we know more.” Ken Rudin, NPR

We all know that the political climate is ugly and fear-based and power-centric, but no one knows the mind of this man with a gun. The anti-Right/Tea Party/etc. speculating- even if it should turn out remotely true- is irresponsible on the part of any media and does nothing but fuel the hateful fire.

What we know:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head.
Giffords in in critical condition.
At least 17  people were injured.
Six, including a 9-year old child and a federal judge are dead.
The shooting suspect in custody, identified as Jared Loughner.
The state of Arizona, as well as the rest of the United States, is horrified.

By now, everyone has re-familiarized themselves with the intelligent, thoughtful, and “brilliant” handiwork of that Palin-approved  “crosshairs map”  which identified and ‘targeted’ legislators who voted for President Obama’s healthcare bill with a bullseye. I’m not sure where to go with this; the angry and emotional side sees that map and recoils with the absolute RETARDEDNESS of its creator. That infamous “cling to their guns” line from President Obama and “Don’t retreat, reload!” courtesy of Palin rise to the surface and almost choke this act of violence even though, as of this moment, we have no idea what Loughner’s motivation was.

But with honesty, I have to admit that  I almost hope that Loughner had some deep-seeded, extreme right-wing foundation that fueled his violence and I say that because it should put a glaring light back on the hazards of the rhetoric. The tone that we hear from today’s politicians makes the atmosphere feel more like a literal battleground where blood must be drawn than a figurative one where laws should be passed. They may only be words but pair the words with politics and anger and supposed standards of patriotism and firearms- like many Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Partiers do- in addition to a potentially damaged mind, and the possibilites can be combustible. Dangerous. Deadly.

But that kind of thinking on my part is as detrimental, maybe even petty, as is taking sides.

And what irony is this when you examine the positions that Ms. Giffords has taken in her political career: a former Republican, now Democrat; a gun owner and supporter of 2nd Amendment rights, pro-immigration reform, supporter of states’ rights,….as moderate as they come. It may not even be a question of whether Loughner was anti-Left or anti-Right; his disaffection may have simply been broadly based  to the point where no one was safe. I’d wager that his 9-year old victim had no political affiliations that warranted his wrath.

Today’s loss of life and injuries are a wound on this country, a wound to me, particularly painful when I take into account its absolute senselessness; there’s just no way to rationalize that a Saturday trip to a Safeway ended in six people dead, and a bullet through the brain. This could have happened to any person in America…and it did.


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