In Tucson, Arizona yesterday, a wanton violent outburst from a depraved individual shattered the calm of a beautiful desert morning. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was taking part in a “meet your congresswoman” event at a local supermarket when a gunman suddenly opened fire, wounding as many as twenty people, killing six including a federal judge, and critically wounding Ms. Giffords.The motive is unclear, as would be expected with entirely senseless violence. Over time I am sure we will find the typically convoluted thinking process of a sociopath, who finding he does not fit in anywhere in society, strikes out randomly at those who do. The deterioration from disturbed, harbored thoughts to violent actions is unfortunately all too common and nothing new. From Lee Harvey Oswald to Timothy McVey to this current assailant, Jared Loughner, the perceived wrongs endured, regardless of how ludicrous, explode into a horrific moment of rage, and the loss of life of innocents. Try as all might to attach an underlying pattern of influences to the madness, there is never any legitimate philosophic structure that ties the slights to the event, as they are fundamentally random outbursts and the human target incidental.
Ohhh, but how they try. Within days of the 1995 Oklahoma City tragedy, President Clinton tied the extremist perpetrator committing the murder of the 168 innocents in the Murrah Federal Building bombing directly to the influence of “right wing” radio :
“We hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable.”
The political advantage was obvious. The random crime is heinous and irrational. Your political enemies are heinous and irrational. Tie your political enemies to the random crime, and those looking for any connection will have their paranoias confirmed. President Clinton’s action was premeditated, unfair, baseless, corrupt – and effective. The success President Clinton achieved in recklessly melding the real victim status with those killed or injured in the bombing with his own “victimhood” was classic Clinton, and proved a powerful weapon against those who would disagree with him. Disagree with President Clinton , and you were supporting the thinking process of those who would bomb buildings. Absurd on its face but by making the connection the President became just another victim of the bombing.
The hyenas are out again with the tragedy in Tucson. Knowing nothing of the circumstances of Loughner’s random active, political elements were quick to try to attach blame to the Tea Party, Sara Palin, or any other political opponent to whom the thinnest thread could be connected to Congresswoman Giffords and the massacre. It is a foul reflex that has developed in political discourse, and thankfully some more credible reporters such as Howard Kurtz see through it for its callousness.
I am reminded that President Bush despite multiple vicious attacks by political opponents never permitted the connection to be made of the attackers’ verbiage and an accusation of lack of patriotism. Despite the direct connection of the 9/11 participants to Islamic extremism, he never permitted the connection of extremists to the practice of the religion itself. I used to think he was allowing himself to be a punching bag. Sometimes it is just difficult at first to see how individuals with class react to classless attacks. I am beginning to miss President Bush more and more every day.
Ms. Giffords and all the victims are in our prayers. Maybe the chattering self absorbed idiots looking for some advantage from the madness can take a moment to think about a family’s pain, and not their worthless agendas.