Thursday, January 13, 2011

After the Attack: Can We Change? Will We Change?

When I saw this, I was frustrated... Yet again. Why don't they get it?

Tom Danehy at Tucson Weekly makes a really good point.

I would never say that the Tea Party wanted somebody to put a bullet in Gabrielle Giffords' head, but at the same time, you can't tell me that everybody in that movement feels bad that it happened.

I would never claim that talk-show lemmings—who leapfrog each other in a desperate attempt to be the one who is most out there—are giving secret orders to listeners to go out and shoot members of Congress, but at the same time, you can't tell me that the ratcheting up of the vile content by some of these creeps isn't enough to push some Travis Bickle-wannabe over the edge.

And I don't believe that Sarah Palin wanted Gabby Giffords to get shot, but damn you if you try to claim that putting a bulls-eye over the district of a United States congresswoman is all just good, clean fun.

This all goes way past disingenuous. You can't build a bonfire in a clearing and then deny any culpability when the embers get caught in the breeze and ignite dry tinder somewhere downwind. You don't have to ascribe to chaos theory to make that connection. You do, however, have to practice self-delusion on a grand scale to claim that the connection doesn't exist.

As Rush Limbaugh himself loves to say, words mean things; words are important. Messages tend to morph and degrade as they are passed along from one person to the next, even if they are done so on a word-for-word basis. It should surprise no one that hate speech that is spewed as self-congratulatory cleverness can, after a few iterations, become an insistent whisper in some nut-job's head.

Many Tucsonans understand this. After all, they've been living this nightmare for the last week. And they saw firsthand the build-up of anger from all the diatribes of the last two years.

Words matter. People matter. Actions matter. That's why it's critical for all of us to lead by example.

Gabby Giffords understands that. I'm reminded again of her victory speech last November.

And I'm reminded of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's speech last night. Yes, you heard me right. I've had plenty of policy disagreements with her before, but that's just it. Those disagreements over policy should not negate someone's human value and should not prevent us from finding common ground.

I appreciate what Governor Brewer is doing there, as well as President Obama's words yesterday. Hopefully, we can all continue to learn from their example.

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Gabby Giffords is healing and recovering... And perhaps our democracy can, too. I guess some on the extreme right, a few on the far left, and others will continue slinging mud and hurling dung until the cows come home, but that doesn't mean our government has to plagued with vitriol and reduced to paralysis just because the "tea party" demands its pound of flesh and no one wants to negotiate in good faith.

We need to learn from this. Danehy concludes his essay with this.

I'm actually proud to live in a community that reacted the way it did, from the woman who grabbed a spare magazine away from the shooter, to the emergency-response teams and medical personnel who all did their jobs heroically. I'm especially proud of Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who spoke his mind and did his job while wearing his emotions on his sleeve. He focused in with laser-like precision and told all the Tree of Liberty jackasses what they could do with their cooler heads.

I don't want to hear about "senseless tragedy." This was a calculated act with a cause and an effect. Let's just hope that part of that effect is to admit that the cause exists—and to take peaceful steps to deal with it.

Perhaps we can all learn from the good people of Tucson.

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