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Just getting some thoughts out on the shooting of Rep. Giffords and the public reaction, especially in regards to what is being said about alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner.
- While I initially cried foul at Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, it’s stupid to say those things before we know what Loughner’s motives and political affiliations are. Besides, this may not be political at all. However, the fact that one could so easily draw a line between the shootings and Sarah Palin’s Take Back the 20 campaign, in which she put gun targets on certain districts (one of which was Rep. Giffords’), is distressing. We shouldn’t let this tragedy pass by without picking up on the political climate that may have – or at least, could have – led to the shootings. Is it feasible that a map with gun targets and the phrase “Don’t retreat – RELOAD!” (a Palin favorite) could lead to violence of this sort? Absolutely. And this is something that Palin and her camp seem to know and acknowledge, considering how quickly she tried to erase any trace of the violent rhetoric. If one good thing could come out of this disaster, it might be that popular politicos on both sides of the aisle will watch what they say.
- I’m a bit disturbed at how many people are quick to call Loughner “crazy.” For one, let’s not blame this on the mentally ill. Let’s not look at his YouTube page and say, “Oh, he must be schizophrenic, that explains it all.” Not every person with a mental illness is volatile. Some – MOST – lead perfectly normal lives. Saying that his supposed schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or what have you explains his actions is like saying that all Muslims are terrorists.
- What’s more, if he weren’t a white male, would we still allow him the benefit of the “mental illness” defense? If he were an Islamic man or a Mexican immigrant, and he (or she) had that very same YouTube profile page, would we still excuse their actions as that of a mentally ill person? Or would we think that their religious or cultural affiliations were reason enough? Why is it that we never expect white people to be extremists? Any non-white person is treated as an extremist and a representative of an entire religion or culture, while a white person is a “fringe character” or a “lunatic.” It’s a disturbing trend.