Better than the Blame Game?

With barely time to process the terrible tragedy in Arizona, we witness yet another tragedy in our inclination to take advantage of the situation politically in the impetuous citations of a causal link between the “climate of hate” or the “Rage of the Right” to the senseless act of violence in Tucson this weekend. Now, usually I’m all in favor of utilizing alliteration in our rhetoric to drive home an emphatic message, but aren’t we committing the very sin we’ve purported to be so dangerous?

In an op-ed for the NYT, Steven F. Hayward, a scholar for the American Enterprise Institute–admittedly a conservative, yet non-partisan think tank–agrees and says he sees this inclination for finger-pointing as “potentially more divisive than the spirited rhetoric that is their target.” It seems contemptible, even impossible, to blame Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or any other “impassioned” Right-Winger for the heinous acts propelled by Jared Loughner’s seriously depraved mental imbalance.

Let’s not confuse correlation with causation in this situation, but rather elevate the discussion beyond divisive political attacks. Why is it that we have become so caught up with this climate of hate, rather than Congresswoman Giffords’s road to recovery? Yes, 6 lives were lost. Yes, it was an unspeakable tragedy. But, seven people, including Congresswoman Giffords, remain hospitalized and potentially able to survive. Shouldn’t the hope to triumph in the face of tremendous adversity be our focus?

More of my “unsolicited opinions” (Margo Tercek ’13), complete with a Sarah Palin video, after the jump.

In the hope of overcoming such a divisive political climate, where we blame peripheral media moguls and political pundits for a terrifying calamity, I thought I might also post this video from Sarah Palin. A video, which has already been picked apart for Palin’s insensitive use of the historically and religously charged phrase, “blood libel”. A video, which has already been condemned as a tactic for Palin to advance her political agenda and create an advantage for herself in the 2012 Presidential Race. Regardless of the critics and Palin’s missteps, I found Palin refreshingly articulate for perhaps the first time.

And as Steven Mintz, a history professor for Columbia University, poignantly highlights in his own op-ed for the NYT:

“Foreigners view the United States as a nation prone to political violence. Nine presidents have been the targets of assassination, along with one president-elect and three presidential candidates. In addition, some eight governors, seven U.S. Senators, 10 Representatives, 11 mayors and 17 state legislators have been violently attacked. No other Western country with a population over 50 million has as high a number.

What does history tell us about political violence? First, political assassinations have tended to occur during periods of civil strife and intense partisanship.”

So, for perhaps the first time in our nation’s history, let’s move beyond such “intense partisanship” and instead be “the light to the rest of the world” that Sarah Palin suggests our “exceptional country” represents. Though, maybe I’m just too naïve, too optimistic. You decide. Or just figure out who you’re going to start blaming.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Pundits Lay Blame for Senseless Arizona Attack
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6 thoughts on “Better than the Blame Game?

  1. Anonymous

    For the record, I posted the comment above accidentally. I meant to leave a more detailed comment but apparently only posted the first sentence. I’m not going to rewrite the whole thing, but I’m not a fan of leaving nasty comments without engaging in the piece more substantively, so I apologize for only leaving the above sentence.

  2. Harold

    naive. right wing pundits choose to employ extremely violent and poisonous rhetoric, now – thanks to a coincidence – they’ve fallen on their own sword. that’s life. their flailing attempts to pin the blame for this on the liberals are just painful to watch; they’re not defending themselves, they’re actually going on the attack, and their attacks are designed to win them political capital. witness sarah palin’s “let’s just have peace and love” conversation with glenn beck, and her repugnant attempts to pretend that SHE is now a potential target of violence. this is an expansion of political objectives: not just defensive measures. and they are failing, intensely. in sum, the pundits got screwed by a coicidence, they exacerbated their initial disadvatages by the vulgarity of their response, and now, hopefully, their hold on mainstream politics will suffer correspondingly.

    1. Obama

      are her “let’s have peace and love” comments so different from obama’s “use words that heal, not wound”? also, “thanks to a coincidence”? you’re describing the tucson shooting as merely an opportune coincidence to allow the right wing to fall on its own sword. kinda messed up.

  3. johnwesley

    Watching the Tea Party movement pivot from the tragic events in Tucson will be very interesting, to say the least. Are they a symptom or a solution? Americans have a legitimate right to ask that question.

  4. Anonymous

    The idea that spirited, divisive, politically motivated rhetoric is the same ‘sin’ as violent rhetoric is, at best, naïve.

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