Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tucson in the Crosshairs

 Unless there is a dramatic change in the news I am posting my last thoughts on the massacre in my adopted home.  So much has been written about the carnage and the reasons for it, that I cannot add much to the subject.  However, there are still a few things that I want to say.

Nearly the entire front section of today's local paper, The Arizona Daily Star is devoted to the ongoing story of Tucson's grief.  They are rightly featuring stories of the victims as well as keeping the city informed of all news. There are three memorial places where the citizens of Tucson are placing flowers, stuffed animals, candles, photos and notes of personal wishes.  This is a caring city and one that has the feel of a small town, although in reality  it is a sprawling large city.

First, the good news.  Gabby Giffords is still amazing her doctors with her recovery.  Although she is still listed as 'critical' she is moving both sides of her body and is following people with her eyes.  She is reported to be a fighter and it is obvious that this is true.  She is now undergoing extensive physical therapy.

Now the bad news:  Our governor and Republican legislators have learned nothing from this tragedy.   Governor Jan Brewer claims that the fault lies entirely with the shooter.  Her rationale  is that one insane individual is an isolated bump in the road and the fact that he didn't get the mental evaluation he needed is irrelevant. The prevailing gun culture and lax gun laws have nothing to do with the shooting, according to her twisted thinking.  In spite of statistics proving the fact that strict gun laws have cut gun murder rates by a large margin  in states and countries that have enacted them, that's her story and she's sticking with it.

The head of our' leggie' (ALA the late and great Molly Ivins) joins Brewer in the misbegotten thinking that more guns in the hands of more people makes them safer.  Just how does this work?  In one article there is the story that has not made national news.  A man was in the Safeway store buying cigarettes when he heard the pop pop pop of gun fire and someone yelling, "Shooter, shooter.  Get down".  He had a 9 mm pistol and he took the safety off and ran outside.  He saw a man with a gun standing over a man struggling on the ground.  He made a split second decision to not shoot the man and, if he had, he would have shot the man holding the gun.  The man holding a gun over a man on the gound was the man who took Loughner down and the man on the ground was Loughner.  He almost shot the wrong man.  This should be a lesson in what can go wrong when ordinary people are allowed to carry guns.  

The OK Corral is about to be reenacted over and over in Arizona.  The legislators have absolutely no plans to change our gun laws, no matter what the evidence is that more guns in more hands do not make you safer; the contrary is true. Ideology, the powerful NRA and money will defeat any efforts to change.

Tucson's  sheriff was reviled for stating the truth about Arizona.  We are one of 3 states where any adult can carry a concealed weapon without a permit.  (Alaska and Vermont being the other two). 

Most of you have probably read the Frank Rich article, but I am posting excerpts from it.  He is so sensible and, of course, I agree with his points 100%


Frank Rich Op-Ed piece from the New York Times:

Did Loughner see Palin’s own most notorious contribution to the rancorous tone — her March 2010 Web graphic targeting Congressional districts? We have no idea — nor does it matter. But Giffords did. Her reaction to it — captured in an interview she did back then with Chuck Todd of MSNBC — was the most recycled, if least understood, video of last week. 

The week of that interview began with the House passing the health care bill on Sunday. Within hours, on Monday morning, vandals smashed the front door of Giffords’s office in Tucson. The Palin “target” map (and the accompanying Twitter dictum to “RELOAD”) went up on Tuesday, just one day after that vandalism — timing that was at best tone-deaf and at worst nastily provocative. Not just Giffords, but at least three other of the 20 members of Congress on the Palin map were also hit with vandalism or death threats.
In her MSNBC interview that Wednesday, Giffords said that Palin had put the “crosshairs of a gun sight over our district,” adding that “when people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.” Chuck Todd then asked Giffords if “in fairness, campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric have been interchangeable for years.” She responded that colleagues who had been in the House “20, 30 years” had never seen vitriol this bad. But Todd moved on, and so did the Beltway. What’s the big deal about a little broken glass? Few wanted to see what Giffords saw — that the vandalism and death threats were the latest consequences of a tide of ugly insurrectionism that had been rising since the final weeks of the 2008 campaign and that had threatened to turn violent from the start. 

Giffords’s first brush with that reality had occurred some seven months before her office was vandalized — in the red-hot health care fever of August 2009. She had held another “Congress on Your Corner” meeting, at a Safeway in the town of Douglas. There the crowd’s rage and the dropping of a gun by one attendee prompted aides worried about her safety to summon the police. The Tucson Tea Party co-founder, Trent Humphries, told The Arizona Daily Star afterward that this was a lie, that “nobody was threatening Gabby.” After Loughner’s massacre, Humphries was still faulting her — this time for holding “an event in full view of the public with no security whatsoever.” 

Others on the right spent last week loudly protesting the politicization of tragedy. What was most revealing was how often they tried to rewrite the history of previous incidents having nothing to do with Loughner. A Palin aide claimed that her target map was only invoking a “surveyor’s symbol,” not gun sights. A Tucson Tea Party leader announced that the attack on Giffords’s office (never solved by the police) was probably caused by skateboarding kids. Mike Pence, a potential G.O.P. “values” candidate for president, told the C-Span audience that those bearing firearms at Congressional town hall meetings and Obama events (including one in Arizona that August of 2009) were no different from anti-Bush demonstrators “waving placards.” 

For macabre absurdity, it would seem hard to top Newt Gingrich, who wailed about leftists linking Loughner to the right as if he had not famously blamed a psychotic double-murder of 1994, Susan Smith’s drowning of her two sons in South Carolina, on “Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.” But Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, did top Newt. On “Meet the Press” last Sunday he implored us to “treat each other as fellow children of God” without acknowledging (or being questioned about) his 2009 diatribe branding Obama as “an enemy of humanity.” 

As the president said in Tucson, we lack not just civil discourse, but honest discourse. Much of last week’s televised bloviation was dishonest, dedicated to the pious, feel-good sentiment that both sides are equally culpable for the rage of the past two years. To construct this false equivalency, every left-leaning Web site and Democratic politician’s record was dutifully culled for incendiary invective. If that’s the standard, then both sides are equally at fault — rhetoric can indeed be as violent on the left as on the right. 

But that sidesteps the issue. This isn’t about angry blog posts or verbal fisticuffs. Since Obama’s ascension, we’ve seen repeated incidents of political violence. Just a short list would include the 2009 killing of three Pittsburgh police officers by a neo-Nazi Obama-hater; last year’s murder-suicide kamikaze attack on an I.R.S. office in Austin, Tex.; and the California police shootout with an assailant plotting to attack an obscure liberal foundation obsessively vilified by Beck

That Loughner was likely insane, with no coherent ideological agenda, does not mean that a climate of antigovernment hysteria has no effect on him or other crazed loners out there. Nor does Loughner’s insanity mitigate the surge in unhinged political zealots acting out over the last two years. That’s why so many — on both the finger-pointing left and the hyper-defensive right — automatically assumed he must be another of them. 

A few unexpected voices have expressed alarm. After an antigovernment gunman struck at Washington’s Holocaust museum in June 2009, Shepard Smith of Fox News noted the rising vitriol in his e-mail traffic and warned on air that more “amped up” Americans could be “getting the gun out.” The former Bush administration speechwriter David Frum took on the “reckless right” that August, citing the incident at the Giffords Safeway event. But when a Department of Homeland Security report warned of far-right extremism and attacks by “lone wolves” that same summer, Gingrich called it a smear and John Boehner demanded an apology

Unless and until they (Republican politicians - my insertion) can match her (Gabby's) courage and speak out too, it’s hard to see what will change. 

Monday update:
Yeah !!!!  Gabby's condition has been upgraded to Serious and she is no longer considered critical. 


Looking to the Stars said...

This country is never going to learn. I feel for Gabby and her family. It just makes me sick.

take care

Darlene said...

*Looking to the Stars - Me too.

Paula Behnken said...

Wow, thanks for posting Frank Rich's column. "we lack not just civil discourse, but honest discourse" -- well said!

Joy Des Jardins said...

I just don't know what it will makes me sick too Darlene. And...don't even get me started about Sarah Palin. She's an utter train wreck...and she's taking a lot of others along on her ridiculour ride. People...wake up....get OFF that LOCOmotive.

I'm so very happy to hear of Gabby's progress...I pray it continues.

Kay Dennison said...

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings." -- Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

Those words popped into my head as I read your post. I didn't realize it was still hiding in the back alleys of my mind. I had to memorize them when I was a sophomore in high school. I'm glad they came out because they are quite germane to my personal and political thoughts these days.

Somehow I think we have failed to be viligent in our choice of leaders, in our education and in our morality. How do we fix it? I don't know other than to stand stong those who would undermine or freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and commit ourselves to electing smart people who will do what is needed to restore our country's honor and integrity and rid it of the clowns who are passing themselves as leaders.

joared said...

You've really recapped the Tucson tragedy and all the issues well. Am glad you weren't attending the event. We can be thankful there weren't more deaths or injuries. Difficult to understand the reasoning of others in Arizona and other States who oppose weaponry limitations. Am glad the Congresswoman is having so much early recovery. I would anticipate she will benefit from Rehab for many years.

Tabor said...

I remember the interview with the young man who heard the gunfire and had a gun and ALSO had training and knew that one had to carefully assess the situation before taking action. HOw many people who own guns have had that training?

Darlene said...

*Paula Behnken - I really like Frank Rich. He always speaks for me.

*Joy Des Jardins - I guess the pendulum will have to swing all the way to the right before going the correct direction. It has done so in the past and that gives me hope.

*Kay Dennison- As usual, your thinking is 'right on' and the quote is apt. Or as Pogo said, "We have seen the enemy and he is us." (Or something like that.)

*Joared - Thank you. I shudder when I think that I would have been there if I had been physically able.

*Tabor - Thank you for adding a point I missed; that the man had training. It is very important to add that to the story.

Sylvia K said...

Thank you so much for your visits/comments the past couple of days. I reached a point some time ago where I realized that while I still agonize over the politics in this country -- the world, I was letting that plus a difficult situation with me here in Seattle really tear me apart. Consequently, I felt I needed to focus on photography -- I'm taking a course at a local university starting Saturday -- and my blog. I had been invited to be a team member of three blogs and they do keep me busy and it's fun. I don't mean to sound shallow, but I had some decisions to make and I did what I felt worked best. I will always feel exactly as you do and I'm glad you're still giving them "hell"!!! I always love to hear from you and I do hope you're doing well and that your new year is off to a good start.



Darlene said...

*Sylvia - Thank you for your visit, also. It's always good to hear from you.

I fully understand why you are concentrating on photography. I was getting so upset I avoided politics over the holidays because I didn't want to spoil my trip. It's hard to know what's going on and still be able to function.

I hope your difficult situation (whatever it is) is resolving itself and that you are okay.

Good luck with your photography course.

Friko said...

It is really hard for a European to understand that guns are part of daily lifestyle. It is equally hard to understand that people don't see them for what they are, a really dangerous weapon in the hands of the deranged.

Although it is true that it is the shooter who kills, not the gun on its own, it is also true that without a gun he wouldn't be a shooter.

Darlene said...

*Friko - I am sure the most Europeans think we are a violent nation and crazy as loons. Sadly, we are.

Vagabonde said...

I think violence is in the culture of this country. People think that westerns are entertainment but when I was growing up in France and watching them at the movies I always thought that they used their guns too freely on the Indians. I also thought it was just the movies until I came to this country – people love guns here. You cannot change an attitude that took centuries to grow.
I live between three towns here in Georgia, one of them passed a law a few years ago, in Kennesaw, that says each home has to have a gun – it’s the law.

Darlene said...

*Vagabonde - That is really shocking. I think it's unconstitutional to force someone to buy a gun. These are the same people who claim forcing someone to carry insurance is unconstitutional. Go figure !!!!

Nance said...

Darlene, I am NOT finished with this incident, because I am not finished bitching about our national penchant for guns and our refusal even admit it, much less to take responsibility for it. I know you agree.

We can't shut up. Who says gun control is a dead issue?! It's not unless we let them bury it.