"Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity." --Frank Herbert
There are no words adequate to describe the horror of Tucson last weekend. I am thankful that Cong. Gabrielle Giffords seems to be on the road to recovery; I pray for the others wounded, and for the dead. All sane people decry the actions of a seemingly-deranged individual, a killer seemingly without political motivation--in short, just another nut.
However, the possibility that our hyper-emotional, overcharged political climate, with its language of hatred and violence, helped to spur Jared Lee Loughner's rage is undeniable. For the same reasons that shouting fire in a crowded theater is a bad idea, our nation, chock-full of angry nuts with guns and internet access, the use of violent images and words in political discourse is making our nation a dangerous place. Such remarks by conservative pundits may be interpreted by ordinary individuals as mere rhetoric, but I believe that they also serve as a dog whistle to the ultra-right fringe, and a call to action to the insane.
"As we sort out what happened in Tucson, we must resist the temptation to merely cast blame, and we all must be more aware of the weakness of the idea that we do not somehow contribute to the vitriolic atmosphere. Everyone must be alert," wrote the Rev. Al Sharpton in the Washington Post. And as I find myself sometimes overcome by anger at the greed and stubbornness of the right, I too have had to watch my words; hence my overlong absence from this site. Sometime my capacity to endure avarice, stupidity, and malice exceeds my ability to temper my words, and at those times I take a break from both the blog and the news. That way, I avoid writing something intemperate that I might regret later.
Would that some of our public figures had the same concerns, and similar self-control. Unfortunately, the Rude Pundit, once again, was right:
We are not, though, a nation of the goodhearted people...We have become a nation where there's so much noise that only the screams get heard. We fall into a couple of camps: in one, the vast majority of the country, the apathetic who have decided that it's all white noise and just want to be left alone while they try to get or keep a job, pay the bills, and live a life that doesn't suck; in the other, that small tincture bottle's worth of Americans who engage, who understand that democracy is a responsibility and not just a term that you might learn for a high school social studies test. And in that bottle, there's the drops of poison, the people who do not seek to better the nation at large, who see only individuals rather than a society, who, in essence, hate the concept of a more perfect union.
I thank the President for an inspiring, compassionate speech last night, and I wish all the people of Tucson peace.