In Jan. 22 IssueNews-Register
By Kathy Foley, Columnist
Last Wednesday on the national day of mourning for the victims of the terrible massacre in Tucson, we heard President Obama speak words of comfort, words of hope and words of courage and of healing.
It was a moving tribute to the victims and he honored those who rushed to help in the crisis. He struck just the right tone and gave us what we all needed from our President on that very sad day. Speaking of young Christina Taylor Green, he said, "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."
I was moved to tears. I thought of another young girl here in our own community who is also 9 years old, born on the same day as Christina-9/11/01. Her name is Brooklyn and I made it a point to go over to her house the other day just to give her a big hug. Of course she didn't know why I did that, but I was making her a promise and she symbolized all the children to whom I was making that promise. I want to personally live up to those words President Obama spoke. Even though I am just one person, and a not very important person at that, I want to know that I have done my very best to make this country a better place for those young children. If my only contribution is to speak up for my beliefs in a more civil and respectful way then at least I will be living up to my promise. Although I don't believe I have ever used violent metaphors, I will no longer call Mitch McConnell an "idiot." I will no longer accuse those who have a different view than my own "un-American."
For the life of me, I cannot understand the argument that has been raging over the last week about whether or not the hostile rhetoric of late caused the crazed gunman to do what he did. That is not even the question. The question is far simpler than that. The question is whether or not it is helpful or harmful for people in the public eye (or people, in general, for that matter) to speak words or use images of violence and hatred when trying to get their point across. Of course it is not helpful-of course it is harmful. Look to your own children. Do you not correct them when they speak in such a way to others? Look to Jesus Christ. Did He teach that that was the way to communicate? I'm no Biblical scholar, but everything I have ever read teaches just the opposite.
Earlier, on that same day of national mourning, we heard Sarah Palin publish her own statement. Rather than being a statement of healing and comfort, her's was all about defending herself and explaining why she was not to blame for the terrible violence in Tucson. She said she was saddened, but it wasn't clear that she was saddened by the tragedy, mostly saddened that she felt attacked.
She called the questions being raised about the wisdom of using violent language and imagery "irresponsible" without ever acknowledging that the very same violent language and imagery, itself, was irresponsible. She even made matters worse by referring to a "blood libel," an anti-Semitic, inflammatory slur that goes back to the 12th Century. In the very same sentence, she had the gall to call what was being done to her (the alleged "blood libel") "reprehensible." What IS reprehensible is her denial and deflection of any sense of personal responsibility for her own hateful words and actions. I'm not saying that she is responsible for that terrible act of violence perpetrated by a madman; and I haven't heard anyone else in the media or otherwise say that either. What I am saying is that on Wednesday, we heard two very different statements, one from President Obama of healing and hope and one from Sarah Palin that couldn't have been more starkly different in tone and (lack of) substance.
The contrast brought into clear focus why Barak Obama was elected President of the United States and why Sarah Palin will never be.