Two days ago, twenty-two year old Jared Lee Lougher reportedly walked up to Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, pulled out a pistol and fired into her head point-blank before opening fire on bystanders attending a public political event outside a grocery store in Tuscon, Arizona. As of press time, six people including a federal judge, one of Gifford’s aides and a nine-year-old girl are reported dead, while Gifford miraculously survived the attack.
At a time like this, we should not be thinking about ideology or political strategy, but about Gabrielle Gifford and the health of the other victims.
But this unwarranted attack grates against the very essence of a free, safe society, so naturally, people search for larger evils to blame for the massacre.
Media outlets across the nation started throwing out theories and allegations — ‘surely there’s a bigger issue at hand,’ they said — ‘it’s all Sarah Palin’s fault.’
This type of hyped-up, panicked response is wrong and unproductive.
While questioning events for the sake of understanding and closure is a wise and often inescapable human tendency, Americans tend to overreact in the wrong ways during times of intense political, social and/or cultural tension.
It’s possible that this tragedy was simply a senseless act committed by a deranged individual acting outside of rationality or reason.
Then again, it’s also true that the wicked shooting of a trusted delegate of the United States House of Representatives and her constituents does beg the question: Have the ideologies of our political parties, in wielding increasingly heated rhetoric, created a political environment of fear and violence?
It’s fair to question the extent to which our individual, daily political discussions have negatively affected the culture in which we live.
You may claim that political firebrands like Sarah Palin, in drawing up maps of representatives to “target” in the midterm elections, subtly encouraged Gifford’s attacker.
On a broader level, the common theme being broadcast by news outlets across the nation seems an effort to absolve ourselves from Lougher’s horrific actions. Their questions stab at the nation with accusatory fingers — can any of us take some responsibility for this atrocity?
Unlike most of us, Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford took an oath and decided to serve our nation, the people of her district. For her selfless efforts, she and her constituents unnecessarily suffered. And so we all suffer as a people, by declining into a state where this tragedy turns into bickering and blame-casting.
The first step to mending our nation is to ask questions of ourselves and about the system we live in. The opinion pages of the Nexus are open for all to do that — just keep a level head as you do so, for all of our sakes.
Our hearts and hopes go out to the victims of this national tragedy.