The Politicization of Tragedy
- Image by kevin.asher via Flickr
Just a few hours ago, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), was shot by a gunman that opened fired into a crowd where Rep. Giffords was holding a public event. The full AP story can be read here. Everyone here at the Right Sphere has the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers. This was not just an attack on an individual, but an attack on a public servant. While the shooter’s motives are not yet clear, this act of violence will certainly have a chilling effect on the nature of political discourse in the US for some time.
As the events unfolded, I was tracking them on Twitter. The immediate response was uncertainty, followed by shock, and then a long string of positive messages, prayers, and condolences for the victims and their families. It was a testament to the power of social media to rapidly disseminate information, but just as rapidly the political mudslinging came from the left, when liberal hatemonger and general heel Markos Moulitsas posted the following tweet:
Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin, http://is.gd/knNgl
The link takes you to Tbogg’s Firedog Lake blog, which shamefully politicized the tragedy by insinuating that Sarah Palin is somehow to blame because Rep. Giffords was mentioned in a piece Palin wrote regarding Congressmen that should be “targeted” by Palin supporters. Of course, Palin was in no way advocating violence against elected officials, she was speaking metaphorically, but the facts and context don’t matter to the left. They place politics above all else, in this case to the detriment of civil discourse and general decency.
What followed on Twitter after the Kos tweet was a public attempt to shame Kos by retweeting his post dozens if no hundreds of times, some prefaced with disparaging remarks about Kos, other praying for his salvation. In my mind, both responses are the wrong response. Kos has been playing the media game for some time, and as we’ve all heard before, there’s no such thing as bad press. Every retweet further disseminates Kos and Tbogg’s hatfeul, shameful message, and with that comes page views, exposure and revenue. Further, being the clearly immature and soulless human being that Kos is, he is probably reveling in the outrage that was borne of his disgusting act. This is exactly what Kos wants, and exactly what such an action doesn’t deserve.
But the fact that the response to Kos’ tweet further enriches him and his ilk in one way or the other isn’t the only point. The reaction I saw on the right was on of instantaneous demagoguery, self-righteousness indignation and expressions of contempt. This too is the politicization of the tragedy, albeit in an unwitting way. By reacting with such malice towards Kos, his detractors attempted to take the moral high ground to prove that they were non-partisan, yet ignoring the fact that they themselves were leveraging such a phenomenal tragedy to seek an advantage over a political foe. It can be argued that those that spread Kos’s vicious smear were attempting to use sunlight as a disinfectant, but Kos isn’t a disease for which sunlight is a viable cure, he’s a cancer.
Today is a day of national tragedy, which impacts us all, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, black and white, gay and straight, even the libertarians. As Americans, we must not squander the opportunity to harness all the good in our country, come together as a nation, and continue to project our nation’s image the world over as the shining beacon of freedom and prosperity that has enticed so many, with so much less, to seek out our shores and the liberties of a free and open democratic society. May God continue to bless America.