At about 10 AM this morning, January 8th, alleged shooter, or perhaps more accurately, domestic terrorist, Jared Lee Loughner burst into a townhall-esque event “Congress on Your Corner” hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona and opened fire on the crowd. There are rumors that he did not act alone, but regardless of whether this “second shooter” theory is accurate, when the smoke cleared, more than a dozen people were wounded, including the Congresswoman who was shot in the head and currently is listed as being in critical condition. Reportedly, six people were killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old child.
The alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, who is reportedly in custody, has been described as an “unstable” young man with a criminal record and documented mental issues. Loughner posted a series of bizarre, deranged videos on his Youtube channel which manifested the inner workings of his insane mind (http://www.youtube.com/user/Classitup10#p/a/u/2/PnNx0WThoF0). He described the invention of a new US currency and ranted against “mind control” and “brainwashing.” Loughner’s final video was titled “My Final Thoughts,” and hours before the shooting, messages reading “goodbye” and “please don’t be mad at me” appeared on his myspace page which has since been shut down. Additionally, on his youtube profile, Loughner listed all of his interests and history in past tense, as if he was writing his own memoir, or perhaps, eulogy. It does not take a genius to realize that Jared Loughner is not mentally stable and his deranged obsessions are most likely the source of his deadly rampage.
Since the shooting, national leaders from virtually every state and espousing every political affiliation have made statements expressing their grief and horror over what occurred in Arizona this morning. Leaders from Sarah Palin to Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner have all given their condolences. Even the President himself offered his support and said those affected are in he and Michelle’s “thoughts and prayers.” Seemingly, this should serve as an example of national solidarity, when horrific events force us to rise above petty politics and unite on a common sense of grief over such a terrible tragedy. Or perhaps not. Some have chosen to use the reported death of 6 people and the injury of others, including Representative Giffords, to make their own political statement or blame Jared Loughner’s actions on a political figure. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman blamed Loughner’s actions on a “climate of hate” he says is created by conservative commentators like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Keith Olbermann put in his two cents by calling for Beck to “apologize” for his rhetoric. Additionally, Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has called his state the “Mecca for prejudice and bigotry” and blamed the same sort of “hateful climate” Krugman referenced for the shooting, instead of blaming the man who actually pulled the trigger. Perhaps the most insidious accusation, espoused by leftists such as Jane Fonda, is that Sarah Palin somehow caused the shooting because several months ago, she “targeted” Giffords’ district as one that could be won by Republicans in the midterm elections. I could debunk each of these claims individually, but that’s not what this blog is about. I do not want to make any sort of political point; I simply want to show how making this tragedy political belittles a terrible situation. Instead, I’ll ask, is this really what we have come to? What kind of country do we live in where politics is somehow to blame for every tragedy? These accusations are an insult to the people affected by tragic events like the Arizona shooting because they demean such horrific situations. Honestly, I think using an act of terror which resulted in multiple deaths to make a political point is downright disgusting. The only person who should be blamed for the shooting is the shooter himself, Jared Lee Loughner. Neither a “hateful” political climate nor the words of a political figure forced his hand. He is obviously a very unstable individual who acted out on his own delusions in a very violent way. Trying to claim that one’s political opponents are somehow responsible for his actions is cowardly and low.
On dark days such as this, the best thing we can do is turn to God and keep Gabrielle Giffords and the others affected in our prayers. If we can do so, this will prove to be a tragedy that binds us together as Americans, not drive us apart as liberals and conservatives. This is not about politics at all. I support and agree with the kind thoughts and words from public figures from all parts of the political spectrum. Likewise, I agree with President Obama’s sentiments and Nancy Pelosi’s moment of silence, despite the fact that they hold different political views than I do. Additionally, I condemn everyone, liberal or conservative, who uses this tragedy as a political tool. For those of you who are trying to make this situation about politics, get over yourself. This is a time for prayer, not politics.