Using tragedy to create a political advantage.

Jared Lee Loughner in March 2010. This was someone's little boy - where and how did he go wrong? Photograph: Mamta Popat/AP/Arizona Daily Star

After the Fort Hood shooting, the liberal media went out of it’s way to avoid any mention of Islamic motivations for the shooting. The murderer Hasan was characterized as being troubled, mentally unstable, in an effort to downplay the clear Islamic motive behind the killings.

Anyone who made that connection was labeled as Islamophobic, xenophobic or bigoted. Americans had to dig to find out that Nidal Malik Hasan, as he was shooting, was shouting, “Allahu Akbar” a clear link to jihadist motivation for his attack. This was not fully investigated or reported by the liberal press.

Contrast that with the recent shooting in Arizona.

Immediately, the media began either implying that “The Tea Party” or “Conservatives” were to blame because they used language and graphic symbols that implied gun use, with many accusing their opponents of “inflaming the American public”. They used this tragedy to place blame on their political opponents and ironically contributed to the “political vitriol” that they claim to abhor.

“At a press conference following the attack, the Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, blamed political vitriol for fueling the attack.

“People tend to pooh-pooh this business that we hear about all the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living doing that,” he said. “That may be free speech – but there are consequences.”

Never let a crisis go to waste?

While the reaction of immediately condemning this violent attack is appropriate, to also immediately use it as an excuse to criticize a political opponent is despicable.

Two people in particular were targets of this kind of attack: Palin and Kelly. This is not to voice support or endorsement of either of these politicians, but to criticize the cheap ploy of instantly using a tragedy to gain political ground. It is reprehensible, whichever side is doing it. Here’s a synopsis, from the article on the substance of those attacks:

“Palin had published a “target map” on her website using images of gunsights to identify 20 House Democrats, including Giffords, backing the new healthcare law. Gifford won by a narrow margin, seeing off opposition from a Tea Party-backed Republican candidate.

Palin issued a statement via her Facebook page offering her “sincere condolences” to Giffords and her family.

Giffords was also the target of a campaign advert for her election opponent, Jesse Kelly, which invited supporters to fire a gun with the candidate. It read: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

John Ellinwood, Kelly’s spokesman, said he did “not see the connection” between fundraisers featuring weapons and the shooting. He added: “I don’t know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way … Arizona is a state where people are firearms owners. This was just a deranged individual.”

That is what this boils down to: from what we know now, this was a case of a deranged young man lashing out. Gun control advocates will make the point that a deranged individual with a semiautomatic pistol can do much more harm than a deranged individual with a stick. In their minds, the way to make citizens safer is to make it more difficult for anyone to have a gun.

On the other hand, the point could be made that if a responsible citizen carrying a gun had been at this rally, they would not have had to wait until the shooter ran out of ammunition before tackling him, and the death toll could have been much lower. Pure speculation, of course, but a reasonable scenario.

As a society, if we are truly interested in preventing this kind of tragedy from occurring again, the solution is not to take away everyone’s guns, but to do the hard work of first analyzing what went wrong with this young man and secondly find ways to identify and treat this kind of dangerous mental illness when it first crops up, before it bears deadly fruit.

Personal Responsibility

The responsibility for this shooting lies with Jared Lee Loughner. It was his choices, his actions. Responsibility also lies with those in his life who saw the warning signs and either ignored them or did not take appropriate action. This was true in the Fort Hood shooting as well. Hasan bears ultimate responsibility, those who could have stopped him but did not also bear responsibility.

Free speech did not cause this.
Political vitriol did not cause this.

It baffles me why the media refuses to hold Imams responsible for inciting hatred after one shooting but then, after another shooting, are quick to accuse the liberal media’s political rivals. Where was the call for imams to be held accountable for what imams teach in mosques, inflaming Muslims from the Koran, fomenting religious vitriol? Where are the cautions about the “consequences” of freedom of religion that intentionally ignores violent, hateful, bigoted teaching?

America needs True Journalists

On second thought, it doesn’t surprise me at all, because the liberal media has had a track record of ignoring anything that has a negative impact on their pet topics, but has a pattern of spinning stories to the advantage of their favored politicians. They do this at the expense of pursuing true journalism and serving the American people by making a sincere effort to report the truth, or at least present an objective story that provides as much evidence as possible.

Comments are closed.