Monday, January 10, 2011


It's been a few days since the awful shooting in Arizona. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is still in a medically induced coma and people of all political persuasions are praying for her recovery.

There is a lot being made of this shooting. People are saying it's the Republicans' fault. It's the Tea party's fault. This is bullshit.

We all own it. All of us. Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, athiests, fundamental evangelicals, the radical left, the religious right, the apathetic, the disillusioned, the angry, the passionate, the politically obsessed, the willfully ignorant.

We have encouraged the media to ramp things up. Glenn Beck gets ratings because he is dramatic. He cries and whines about the state of his beloved country, blames the liberals, and ignores entirely the facts. Rush Limbaugh inflates and exaggerates and spews vitriol and people listen. Jon Stewart (and if you read this at all you must know I am a fan) uses humor to skewer right-wingers of all stripes. (Though to be fair, he invites people he disagrees with on to his show and treats them respectfully and gives them an opportunity to explain their positions, even those he abhors).

We don't think of "the other side" as human. We dehumanize them daily, and we allow others to do so as well.

I do it, too. I am trying not to. I have been trying not to. I have said it many times before -- Republicans love their country as much as I love it. I believe that they truly want the best things for our nation and its people. I simply believe they are wrong in terms of the things they want and the ways to accomplish their goals. That is my right as an American. I disagree with them. I do not question their patriotism.

Since September 11, 2001 many Republicans have openly questioned my patriotism. People have told me that I am not a patriot because my beliefs differ from theirs. In the media, Republicans have somehow appropriated the American flag as their own and insinuated or worse that liberals are not only NOT patriots, but that we collectively do not deserve the rights and benefits we are guaranteed in the Constitution.

I take issue with that. Yes, I do. I love my country. In fact, I love it so much that I stepped up and took an oath that said I would defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I offered up my life to do so if necessary. Not a patriot? Bite me.

Now if my dad is reading this he is waiting for me to get to the gun violence part of the post. Let me be VERY clear: I support responsible gun ownership. (As does Rep. Giffords, for the record). I grew up in a home with firearms. I cringe every time somebody in the media calls a rifle a "gun." They are not the same thing. I have handled firearms since I was tiny. I recall my dad letting me help him clean his firearms when I was 3. He taught me gun safety. He taught dozens of kids firearm safety in my hometown.

My dad is a sportsman -- he hunted upland game when I was a kid, went deer hunting with his dad and brothers, took my brother hunting for deer, geese, and more. He taught me about conservation and stewardship of the land -- that we have to care for the land so that it continues to support wild game. He helped me understand hunting as one means of population control in animal species. He made it clear that when you killed an animal you owed it the dignity of your respect and you used as much of it as you could, eating the meat and donating the hide and whatever other options were available.

I support the second amendment. Period.

I don't know how the alleged gunman acquired his weapon, nor do I know what weapon it was (I have avoided most of the coverage, I confess). I can't speak to gun ownership laws or waiting periods or any of that.

I CAN speak to this: the Constitution (which, apparently the Republicans now own as well, if you infer from their recent grandstanding) gave all the people at the Safeway that day the right to gather peacefully. It gives all of us the right to dissent with each other and our government. It holds all of us accountable in the governance of our nation. That means if you have the right to vote, you should exercise it at EVERY opportunity.

Old documents can make us uncomfortable. They are printing a new edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that replaces the "N" word with the word slave. The "N" word is key in that story and it will be a lesser story for the loss of the word. The Bible has all manner of uncomfortable scenes -- let's talk about Lot's daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, shall we? Or maybe not. Go ahead and look it up yourself. (Pop quiz-- do you know what book you should look in? Just askin'.) The Constitution? Oh yeah. Some REALLY uncomfortable things in there. Did you know the Republicans LEFT OUT the part about slaves being counted 3/5 of a person AND the entire 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in their dramatic reading? Yes, it is uncomfortable. But it is our HISTORY, and if we do not talk about it and why it was not okay to have slaves, how are we to teach our children right from wrong? Not talking about it does not erase it.

So. We all own the Constitution (much to Mr. Boehner's consternation) and we all own the mess we're in now.

What can we do? I wish I had the answer. Maybe we could start with listening. Maybe we could commit to calling people out in the media when they spread falsehoods, malicious half-truths and incite violence. Maybe we could think of the Sting song from the 80s, Russians. He sang, I hope the Russians love their children, too. Can we just agree that we ALL love our kids and our country and we simply have very different ideas about how to make things better? Can we encourage our representatives to sit down together and work it out? The Constitution has worked for 200 years and now many people are saying the rules of Congress need to be changed. I think the way politicians work needs to be changed.

My thoughts are with the families of those killed and wounded in Tucson on Saturday. All of us are appalled. All of us wish them well.

I don't know if the shooting was politically motivated or not. I do know that regardless of the motivation this incident was a wake-up call for all of us.

The question is, are we going to get up and go to work, or press the Snooze button?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Thanks! Well said! Continue to remind all who read your blog that the Constitution belongs to all of us and that all of our Representatives, Senators and the President are sworn to "uphold and defend" said Constitution. You are absolutely correct when you say that politicians need to change the way they operate.