“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized ... it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking in a way that heals, not wounds.”
With a nation still reeling from the senseless murders that recently occurred in Tucson, President Obama cited incivility as a nagging reminder that words, not just sticks and stone, can hurt. And sometimes words inspire the mentally unbalanced to commit horrific, senseless acts of horror.
And once again the good citizens of our nation and around the globe gather in mass support of the fallen, the wounded and the heroes who helped prevent an even deadlier catastrophe. This time it happened in Tucson, home of the cowboy and cowboy-wannabe. It’s a modestly sized city resplendent in gorgeous desert scenery with wildlife that can be found literally under any rock in the Catalinas or other mountain ranges there.
Unfortunately, some creatures that belong safely under a rock find ways to emerge and cast their devilishly evil shadow on good people. With glocks.
Did the murderer find inspiration in right-wing vitriol and rhetoric, as some pundits are claiming? Or is he just another Lee Harvey Oswald lunatic, acting out his inner torment and hatred of all things democracy holds dear? Of course conspiracy theorists will argue that statement until the Blue Dogs come home, but never mind. This Southwest miscreant (who does not deserve to be named) whose mug shot resembles a deranged fourth Stooge, is evil pure and simple.
Whatever inspiration he may have gleaned from the Tea Party faithful, Fox News bully sessions or twisted right-wing “literature” merely twisted his pathetic thinking until it culminated into a full-out demented massacre in a sleepy little shopping center in North West Tucson. About a mile away from where I lived not too long ago.
That shopping center may well have been your own local strip mall in a bustling suburban corner. It isn’t a fancy, high-end tourist trap, either, just your basic, high-traffic, middle-of-the-road shops. Nothing out of the ordinary, but important to the locals and popular among the local politicos who like to schmooze their constituency and play pass-and-kiss-the-baby.
I shudder to think of how those innocent souls were mowed down like ducks in a shooting gallery during an event I may have well attended if I still lived in Tucson. Tucson has long prided itself on being open to all political comers, encouraging citizenry to participate in these meet-and-greet events. So how do we rationalize or make any kind of sense of this insane horror?
Not even Jon Stewart could explain this latest tragedy, and he’s known for expertly explaining or at least delineating the Right’s talking points. During his show earlier this week he mentioned that dangerous rhetoric is on parade now once again, threatening our freedom by tempting the deranged among us to take a stand.
Stewart implored viewers to make sure the world we’re creating now is better than the one we lost. Because so far, it seems like the rabid rhetoric of the right-wing is drowning out reasonable, logical and non-violent debate.
In a way, Tucson is a perfect place for ordinary citizenry to take a stand against intolerant, violent acts of murder and mayhem. After all, it is in a state that allows citizens to walk around armed in public places, including bars. And of course, shopping centers.
President Obama also eloquently implored citizens (especially public officials) to speak responsibly and take the high road whenever possible, when it comes to public debate of serious issues.
A good, clean debate won’t bring back those innocent souls whose lives were snuffed out. But if we can urge politicians or television poseurs to take it down a notch, maybe there will be fewer children sacrificed before they turn double-digits.