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Hullabaloo


Friday, December 14, 2012

 
Politicizing the tragedy (again)

by David Atkins

Note: This piece was first posted on July 20th of this year in the wake of another horrific shooting. It's even more relevant today.

This from Digby bears repeating a second time:

We aren't shocked anymore when children are killed. It's become a normal part of American life. The taboo has shifted from horror at the shootings to horror at talking about shooting. This is called "politicizing tragedy" as if these mass murders are an act of nature rather than an act of human evil or madness (or both) enabled by easy access to the tools of mass murder.

But let's not go there. We will mourn the casualties the way we mourn the deaths of those in hurricanes and tornadoes. Gun violence is now a "natural" event in America, as unpredictable as the weather, and there's nothing we can do about it except gather together in the aftermath to help the victims. Indeed, the only enduring threat these events foretell is from those who would question a culture that deifies the gun as if it were a religious symbol rather than a lethal weapon.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, nobody said that we should just pray for the victims and do nothing about it. When terrorists used planes full of people as missiles and killed thousands of Americans, few suggested that it was an inevitable tragedy that shouldn't be politicized. The country took action to prevent those things from happening again. In fact, the nation went far beyond the bounds of decency and reason to do so, locking up entire races of Americans, starting needless wars and ramping up an expensive and unnecessary police surveillance state. Multiple Constitutional rights were and continue to be violated.

But very few went out of their way to suggest that the only reaction to these tragedies should be solemn mourning. These incidents involving heartbreaking loss of innocent life were intensely political, and appropriately so. In fact, to have done nothing in the wake of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor would have seemed to most Americans to have shown callous disregard for the victims, and disdain for the lives of victims of similar attacks to come.

There is no reason that these almost routine gun massacres in America should be viewed any differently. Those who wish to take steps to ensure that the next massacre be prevented--and they are entirely preventable--are showing the greatest respect for the lives of the victims. They're the ones who are trying to make sure that they didn't perish in vain, and that similar future massacres don't claim any more innocents. It is intervention of the most necessary kind.

Prayers and sympathy are nice. But they accomplish nothing, and show no greater respect. Prayers won't help the victims or stop the next massacre. Call it politics or any other term that seems fitting, but it's long past time we started making sure this sort of thing cannot happen again. It's the right thing to do.

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