At Catholic Online
Hatred is in the air this week. Everyone’s talking about it. Some are capitalizing on it. Words and pictures are being denounced. Laws are hastily being written in response to an unthinkable tragedy, out of a desperate need to prevent another unthinkable tragedy. As though we can prevent all unthinkable tragedies with enough laws and prohibitions… but we cannot legislate the end of hatred and violence.
A deeply disturbed man walked into a shopping center parking lot, took out a gun and killed six people, including a 9 year-old child. His apparent target, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is fighting for her life. Nothing about what Jared Loughner did will ever make any sense. There will never be a satisfactory “why.”
The answer is certainly not political, nor is the blame to be laid there. Sarah Palin is not responsible for this madman’s actions. President Obama is not responsible. Rush Limbaugh is not responsible. Neither the Left nor the Right is responsible for the violence that erupted first in Jared Loughner’s heart and finally in a Safeway parking lot.
But now we find ourselves in the middle of a shouting match over who is to blame, and whose words and actions motivated this man to go on a killing spree. “Tone down the rhetoric!” some say. “Shut down Talk Radio!” others demand. “From now on no one is allowed to carry a gun within 1000 feet of a public official!” says one politician.
Now, I haven’t yet lived even a half century, but it seems to me there’s nothing new about lunatics shooting people in public. Many public officials have been the victims of such heinous attacks, going back at least to Abraham Lincoln. Was “vitriol” to blame for Lee Harvey Oswald shooting President Kennedy? Was John Hinckley, Jr.’s attempt on President Reagan’s life the result of “heated rhetoric?”
I make no defense of Palin’s crosshairs graphic nor do I blame her for the shooting in Tucson. I find it amazingly disingenuous that so many are rushing to condemn the “vitriol” of the Right, blaming every visible conservative for the escalation of hatred in American politics while very conveniently forgetting things like:
Comedian Sandra Bernhard saying that if Sarah Palin came to New York she would be “gang-raped by my big black brothers.”
The graphic art image of Sarah Palin being punched in the face by a man’s fist under the heading, M.I.L.P. (Mothers I’d Like to Punch).
The numerous images of President Bush with a gun to his temple, or the T-shirt image of blood running down over the words, “Kill Bush.”
The protest signs with Bush’s cut-off head dripping blood, and the sign that said, “Bush, the only Dope worth shooting.”
And let’s not forget the bloody, violent, environmental “green” ads of last year that featured children being blown up in the classroom, or shown with a noose around their necks.
That’s only a small sampling of the disgusting garbage that’s been spewed in recent memory. All of it should be condemned. That’s not political discourse; it’s just childish, mean-spirited, shameful vomit.
Those so eager this week to blame Palin and any other conservative who voices their anger over the current state of our government seem more like ambulance-chasing lawyers, just trying to turn a senseless tragedy into a political opportunity.
Crosshairs on a map are not to blame here. Remember, it was Barack Obama, back in 2008, who said of Republicans, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”
Was he suggesting that Democrats in America start shooting Republicans? Of course not! It was hyperbole, an analogy to signify his intent to defeat the enemy. (And yes, he did call Republicans “the enemy” not the opposition.)
There are scathing words being carelessly thrown around by everyone. But the underlying problem is more than a lack of civility. The real trouble is spiritual, not political.
The fact is we have constructed a society whose laws do not value human life, whose entertainment teaches even the very young to glorify violence, worship at the altar of sexual pleasure, and live for immediate self-gratification while shunning responsibility. We have purposefully, systemically evicted God from our homes, our businesses, our laws and our lives. We’re paying the price. We may arrogantly think we can thrive without Him, but we will perish in flames as we thumb our noses at Him.
We’re sick with hatred, all right – hatred of sacrifice, of self-denial, of obligations, of morality, maturity, honesty, patience, humility, and love. We spurn all these things because they require we put others first. Mostly, we have grown to detest these things because they come from God and we’ve decided we are tired of Him and His demands. In rejecting God, we are given over to anger, selfishness and violence. Without Him, we are emptied of love.
There will be a memorial service on Thursday for Christina Green, the little girl who was murdered in that parking lot last week. And perhaps the most distressing thing I’ve heard so far is that this poor grieving family may have to contend with true hatred once again while they gather to mourn their beautiful child.
There are Angels who will be present to intervene to protect the family from the hate-mongers of the Westboro Baptist Church, who just may show up to picket this little girl’s memorial. Why would these people do such a thing to the Green family? Again, there is no sane explanation for hate. There is no logical explanation for lunacy and evil.
But anyone looking for perpetrators of raw hate and vitriol need look no further than the members of the WBC. To every rational and decent person, they are anathema and should be eschewed. Cruelty is their creed. They are a disgrace to our nation. Let’s hope they stay away.
My prayers go out in a special way to the Green family because their parish in Tucson was my childhood parish. I grew up in that church. I pray the Green’s will have nothing but calm, solemn peace as they remember their daughter on Thursday. May the Lord protect them, keep them and give them His healing.
The political blame-game must cease. No elected official from either party sanctions the shooting of our public leaders, nor encourages violence to be carried out against another American. Let’s stop the ridiculous opportunism and yield to honesty and mature reasoning.
I know we all pray the Lord’s comfort and peace will be with each of the families who grieve their loved ones, and His healing power will be with those recovering from injury, especially Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Have mercy on us, Lord. Turn our hearts back to You and bring us peace.