I’m sure like most of the US, this weekend I was following news from the Tucson shooting. I was born in Tucson. I just spent Christmas in Tucson, and have family that lives across the city, and as close as 7 miles from where it happened.
But really, it saddened me to see that in an age where politicians seem more interested in their careers than their constituents that a congresswoman who was meeting with constituents was attacked.
I don’t think there’ll be any quick answers. People have been eager to assume he was part of the Tea Party or even some white supremacy groups. I’m not sure we’ll ever know why he did what he did…
That said, it doesn’t mean that we can’t take this as a wake-up call. We as a nation need to reevaluate our political discourse. We’ve become a nation where the more outrageous a candidate is, the more news coverage they get. The more outrageous the political talking heads (Limbaugh and Beck) the higher their ratings.
But the downside has been clear for awhile. Tea Party rallies were filled with signs that weren’t urging people to return to whatever values the Tea Party believes in (that seems to change depending on who you’re talking to), but words from the framers of our country that were originally used to urge people to go to war.
Sarah Palin, in an effort to get people to share their displeasure with the health care plan, urged people in Red states to put pressure on the Democrats that they’d elected (Arizona included). How? By showing a map of the United States with crosshairs over the regions that the Congresspeople were from. I’m sure that she and her people thought she was just being folksy, and showing that Alaska moxie… but really, it was ill-advised.
In Arizona, the man who ran against Giffords had an event in which you could meet him and fire a gun. I’m not making this up.
Stirring up rage in people, telling them that our country is failing and that they need to fight to restore it… telling them that the government wants to rip guns from their hands…. this isn’t productive. These politicians have been whipping up climates of hate to further their political careers. They turned a blind eye when people began to use racist remarks against Barack Obama, and currently the racial climate in the nation is at the worst it’s been in years.
Arizona passed legislature to question whether or not anyone Hispanic is in the country legally. Other states want to follow suit. Meg Whitman, during a debate held on Spanish language television, mocked a college student who was in the country illegally- a move that likely cost her the election.
We’ve become so obsessed with dividing the nation, our Congress has barely passed anything. When it came down to something important, like health care reform, they didn’t do the right thing and discuss this like rational adults. The GOP decided that they would use “personal freedoms” to shield insurance corporations. Rallies were held to rile up the masses… spreading fear and disinformation.
My point is that we need to stop spreading hate. We need to remember that there are consequences for things we say- and not merely in gains in polls. No matter what the deeply disturbed man’s reasoning was, we shouldn’t just say that it had nothing to do with the Tea Party or the GOP. Things need to change, and this is the opportunity for everyone to take a step forward… not backward.
(edited to correct some spelling and poor word choices. I really shouldn’t blog before I wake up)