Adam Graham
January 9, 2011
As the vultures swoop down
By Adam Graham

There's a familiar pattern to the crime in Tucson and its aftermath. The same pattern could be seen in acts of violence in Oklahoma City, Jonesboro, Columbine, and Virginia Tech

A crime has been committed. People are dead. For political activists on both the left and right, there's one pertinent question.

How are we going to spin this?

At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were roundly condemned for their suggestion that the ACLU, NOW, and People for the American Way were partly responsible for the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This was most likely because America was attacked by a foreign enemy, but Falwell and Robertson were doing nothing more than continuing the same politics that had been practiced since Bill Clinton placed the blame on Rush Limbaugh and talk radio for the Oklahoma City Bombing.

If there is a major tragedy, political personalities will rush to Cable TV. The left has blamed the availability of guns as a cause of school shooting and called for tougher gun laws or has blamed the rhetoric of political leaders or talk show hosts for creating hatred towards the government. Conservatives have tended to blame restrictions on access to guns and concealed carry and also brought home the decline of moral values as a cause of tragedies.

These arguments are completely inappropriate, particularly at a time when the bodies of the slain are still warm, when families are grieving, and people are hurting and in shock. The last thing people want, deserve, or need to hear is a hectoring lecture from self-righteous politicos ready to solve the world's problems.

This also lessens personal culpability for those directly responsible for the acts, and places the blame on a larger group of "others." When that happens, we're only deepening a culture of irresponsibility where someone else is always to blame, and individuals are never accountable for their own actions.

In addition, if no one in the political mainstream ever said anything controversial, there's enough fuel for the sick minds of a thousand madmen in works like Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, the works of Henry David Thoreau, and a hundred more.

The greatest consequence is that it makes our political discourse even coarser. When someone on the left says that the Tea Party movement is responsible for the shooting in Tucson, they are leveling the political equivalent of a blood libel that blames an entire political movement for the actions of a person who in all likelihood had no connection to the movement.

Many untold hours and pages of print will be spend responding to irresponsible charges and inferences made by people on the left who were so eager to score political points that they couldn't even bother to wait for the facts. The result of this is that many will respond to this tragedy not as human beings, but as political partisans.

If we want to restore a sense of decency and civility to our political life, we should stop using dead bodies as political props. Rather than trying to score points, it'd be far more appropriate for our political spinners to stop the game.

A time of loss and an act of violence that all reasonable people find abhorrent should bring Americans together, as it did on 9/11. It can do so now, but only if we approach what happened as grieving Americans rather than finger-pointing partisans.

© Adam Graham

 

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Adam Graham

Adam Graham was Montana State Coordinator for the Alan Keyes campaign in 2000, and in 2004 was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Idaho State House... (more)

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