Thursday, August 14, 2008
The News is Grim
Since the perpetrator was also killed (by police), we can at this time only speculate on his motives. But consider this: Last month, two members of a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee were killed, and others wounded, during services. And in this case we know exactly why this blood was shed, because the killer left messages: he hated liberals.
A little thoughtful reflection will show that there's a pattern here, perhaps a logical outgrowth of the anti-liberal, anti-progressive, and anti-Democratic invective that has flooded our public airwaves for years. It's come from talk-show hosts whose names are almost code words for lying, vicious bigotry: Coulter, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Malkin, ad nauseum. It long-ago spilled over into the mainstream media, now affectionately known as the MSM in blogosphere-talk. No, the MSM doesn't chant "kill liberals" like the above-mentioned talking heads; the nightly news simply gives them a free ride by parroting their inanities as if they where unassailable facts. Which they are not.
So it has come to this: Today in the United States of America, decent and ordinary citizens are being murdered for their political beliefs. As someone who has grown up believing in and actively participating in democracy, I want to hang my head and weep.
Let us pause now for a moment to send light and love to the bereaved families of those killed in these tragic events. To lose someone who was murdered in a workplace or place of worship is bad enough. But to have your loved one killed for their political beliefs must be the pinnacle of agony. My heart goes out to you in Arkansas and Tennessee who are burdened by these losses.
Now, where do we go from here? Campaign offices will no doubt be looking to increase security. It's a wise idea, given that copycat crimes are an unfortunate likelihood. But it would mean the terrorists have won. It also diverts precious energy and resources away from the vital job of getting candidates elected who can turn this country around.
Others (see the discussion thread in the link I posted above) have examined the contributions of those pundits who spew the hate. I definitely believe they share the responsibility, although of course they will shirk it. Hey, hatred sells, don't you know? Why would they give up their share of the profits that come from rousing the disaffected to turn a gun on the nearest liberal target? But advertisers are acutely sensitive to public reactions towards their products, and calls are being made to put pressure on the advertisers that support these right-wing "news" shows. I think that approach that's worth pursuing.
But, in my view, the most important thing we can do is to keep speaking out. The thought that we might receive violencefor expressing our liberal and progressive views is chilling, but as the fortune cookie says, If you are willing to die it is easier to live. I know many of us have had unpleasant encounters because of our bumperstickers and our yard signs (my house was egged in 2004 when I had Democratic candidates' signs in my windows). We still must be brave and carry on. I personally have only had that one unpleasant event; by far the reactions I get to my signs and stickers are positive.
Now is not the time to go quiet - we have done that far too long. Stand up, speak out, be proud of your liberal positions for they are shared by the majority of citizens in this country. Poll after poll says so! And support those who continue to do the hard campaign work of getting out the vote. It is so vital now, more than ever. You can start speaking out right now, right here by leaving a comment. Once you take that first step, the next ones come easier.