Of course I don’t know why Jared Loughner mowed down a U.S. congresswoman, a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and several others in Saturday’s Tucson rampage. Nobody knows, not even the president of the United States.
But I am not prepared to agree with President Obama’s conclusion that the tragedy had nothing to do with political trash talking.
Loughner had kept a letter from the congresswoman, and had scrawled “Die Bitch” on the envelope. Obviously, Gabrielle Giffords was not a random target. Something made Loughner angry enough to want to kill her.
She was the subject of a lot of incendiary imagery and verbiage during the recently concluded campaign. I doubt the assassin would even have heard of Gabrielle Giffords without all that “campaign rhetoric.”
So when the president takes part in a football-style rally (photo above) apparently designed to gloss over the venom seething beneath the surface of American society, I will not join the chorus of approval. I think the cheering, tearing, hugging orgy was actually an insult to the memory of the victims. It looked to me like a public relations exercise – complete with “heroes” and beguiling fantasies about the dreams of little girls – cooked up to deflect attention from the real issues.
Look, I don’t care how many rallies they hold in Tucson, and I don’t care how eloquently the president waxes about his “one America” vision.
America today is sick, sick, sick.
I’m not thinking only of the political rhetoric that poisons the press, the airwaves and the internet.
Would that it were only rhetoric!
Far too many of the toxic trash talkers are deadly serious. They mean every word they say. When they call for violence, they are not being rhetorical. They want to see political opponents lying dead, amid the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air.
What’s more revolting is that there are so many in politics, public relations and the media who are prepared to exploit this sickness for their own gain. Even in the land of the free, something must eventually be done to keep these monsters in check.
If the leaders of the country refuse to acknowledge this daunting duty, the sickness will only grow worse.