How could we doubt it? Why did we forget?
You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations –- to try and pose some order on the chaos and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -– at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do -– it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.
As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.
We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we're doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.
We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved -- (applause)-- and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better. (Applause.)
For those who were harmed, those who were killed –- they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. (Applause.) We may not have known them personally, but surely we see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis –- she’s our mom or our grandma; Gabe our brother or son. (Applause.) In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. (Applause.)
And in Gabby -- in Gabby, we see a reflection of our public-spiritedness; that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.
In this section Obama did something remarkable. He managed to pull up the dreaded spirit of "collectivism" and make it personal and individual. He made it clear that what made all the persons involved in this tragedy wasn't their fame, their riches, their power or their status - but their essential humanity, charity, grace and willingness to give of themselves - up to and including their life essence, without hesitation - to each other.
A group of various back grounds, various religions, various ages, various political parties and various wealth all shared in this tragedy - and now share in the triumph of heroism and survival.
These are Christian ideals, Jewish ideals, Muslim Ideals, Buddist ideals, Progressive Ideals - American Ideals.
Obama has called to us, as individuals, to dig deep within ourselves to become better Americans, because that is precisely what is required to accomplish that often used, but rarely understood goal - "To form a more perfect Union".
It's not all about what laws we pass, or which pet provisions were or weren't included. It's not about what government does - it's about what we do. how we turn away from spending our energy damaging each other, but instead lifting each other up - rather than moving in a circle - we move forward.
Like the closing scene from "Saving Private Ryan" - we must ask ourselves, have we lived up to the sacrifices of those who come before us, and the hopes of those who follow us?
Can we strive not to be petty? Not to be selfish?
Not to be like Palin.
The first 90 seconds of this statement is actually pretty good and uplifting, but after that it starts to fall off the rails.
Palin: After the shocking tragedy I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.
Here's the thing. Sherrif Dupnik is absolutely entitled to his opinion - but he didn't say definitively that the "toxic atmosphere" was to blame for the actions of Jared Loughner. Neither did Paul Krugman. In fact, the only person who actually brought Sarah Palin's name into this thing - was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords: The rhetoric is incredibly heated, the calls, the emails, the slurs.
People need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up, even things for example we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list the way she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun over our district. when people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.
So really, the person the Palin is calling "irresponsible" - the person who she says has perpetrated a "Blood Libel" = is Jewish representative Giffords.
The other problem with Palin says is her attempt to make individualism an all of nothing option.
Palin: President Reagan said we must reject the idea that every time a law is broken society is guilty rather than the law breaker. it is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions, acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own, they begin and end with the criminals who commit them. Not collectively with all the citizens of a state. Not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their first amendment rights at campaign rallies. Not with those who voted in the last election.
No one is saying that "society is guilty", and the perpetrators are "innocent".
Here Palin lays out a very different vision of American than Obama's vision. An America where each man and woman is an island, with no connection or responsibility to their fellow man. Yes, it is true that the primary person responsible for someones actions - is themselves. But people don't live in a hermetically sealed vacuum. The actions of one are not completely divorced from the actions of others. This is often how Conservatives would like to view the world. They see the success or failure of any particular individual as being an act of singular will, or singular failure. In the nature vs nurture debate, they repeated place all emphasis on nature. Everything is choice, nothing is environment, but the truth is that is simply not the case.
Individuals can choose to overcome tragic circumstances, as well as fail when given every possible advantage. But we do, as all part of a community - as part of an American family - have connections to one another, and do have the ability either to increase each others chances for success or diminish them.
Not every madman acts entirely without outside influence. Timothy McVeigh did not act completely randomly. He was directly inspired by the Racist, Anti-government writings of William Pearce in The Turner Diaries - so much so that his attack on the Murrah Federal Building
in Oklahoma City was planned and lifted Directly From the Books depiction of the Truck Bombing of FBI Headquarters. Byron William's did not act randomly when he attempted to attack the ACLU and Tides Foundation in San Francisco. James Adkisson did not randomly when he killed two people and wounded five in Knoxville, inspired by the writings of Bernard Goldberg to "Kill every Liberal".
When it comes to madman, there can sometimes be no telling exactly what set the off and no explaining it. Mark David Chapman's inspiration was Catcher in the Rye for his Assassination of John Lennon, while John Hinkley wanted to emulated Taxi Driver when he fired on Ronald Reagan, and Charles Manson's insane plot was apparently hatches between the grooves of Beatles Records and a twisted interpretation of the Bible.
Additionally clinical psychologist, who make it their business to study what influences the mad, disagree with Palin
Dr. Swartz cautioned that there's still much we don't know about Loughner or more generally about the impact of the political climate on the mentally ill. But he asserted that asking how our politics might have impacted Loughner's behavior was an entirely natural line of questioning.
"We know the manifestation of mental illness is affected by cultural factors," Dr. Swartz said. "One's cultural context does effect people's thinking and particularly their delusions. It gives some content and shape to their delusions. While we don't know whether there was a specific relationship between the political climate that he was exposed to and his thinking, it's a reasonable line of inquiry to explore."
There may have been any number of things that finally pushed Jared Loughner to snap. I may have been entirely personal, related more to his own loss of employment and being kicked out of school - or it may not. We don't yet know truly.
What doesn't make sense though, is Palin simultaneous argument that anything she's done or said couldn't possibly have had an impact but somehow every one whose merely talked about what she's said - have been "irresponsible".
That's selfish, narcissistic hogwash.
Rush Limbuagh: I tell people don't kill all the Liberals leave enough so we can have two on every campus so we never forget what those people stood for
Conservatives can't simultaneous claim with any credibility that's it's unfair to apportion blame over what Jared Loughner did - and then blame Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. You can't seriously expect to have your cake and eat it too. You can't whine that's it unfair to blame Conservative Hate Speech, while proudly saying - "He was the Liberal of Liberals".
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) says political rhetoric doesn't really incite violent behavior at all -- but not before describing Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner as a "communist" and "the liberal of liberals."
"This guy appears to be a communist," Foxx told the Winston-Salem Journal. "His beliefs are the liberal of the liberals [sic]. There is no evidence whatsoever that this man was influenced by Sarah Palin or anybody in the Republican Party. This man is not a conservative; he's a fan of communism - that's the opposite of conservatism."
There's frankly no evidence that his being a fan of the Communist Manifest, had any more to do with his actions than his being a fan of Ayn Rand or The Wizard of Oz.
These dueling visions of America - one the greatest that Americans can do is to help better the lives of their family, friends and fellows, and one where each America stands isolated and alone without connection or support from those around him, where all responsibilities are individual and none public - are exactly what America must choose from.
Does is matter what we say, and how we treat each other or doesn't it? Are we our brothers keeper, or are we all just islands alone in the stream?
I don't know about everyone else, but I find Obama's vision of America far more compelling, more welcoming, more quintessentially AMERICAN than that of those who primary instinct and primary goal is to Put themselves and their own petty partisan concerns first - and to hell with everyone else.
I rather live in the brighter hopeful world of Obama's America, than the dark, dismal, petty world of Palin.