A Thousand Distant Bullets

I had a post on the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and took it down.  I wasn't happy with it for several reasons.  After some reflection, and a lot of CNN coverage (which got to be ridiculous at a certain point -- like a witness describing the shooting scene as "disorderly"), I decided to tackle what is now being spewed out in the media: the state of political discourse in this country.

There is no real discourse.  It's a bunch of opinions, little fact (we don't need no stinkin' facts), lots of shouting, lots of stereotypes, lots of thinly disguised racism, and lots of misplaced passion.  I have mixed feelings about it.

I like that people feel strongly enough about something that they get worked up about it.  I don't like the fact that they get worked up about everything and then refuse to look at the issues too deeply, instead relying upon certain politicians to tell them how to think.  Psittacine political protesters and activists end up being dangerous, no matter what side you are on, and then bad things happen.

I don't know why the accused shooter opened fire at the Safeway.  Was it because Giffords was there and her district was on the "hit list"?  Was it because produce prices are going up?  Was it because his neighbor's dog was sending him e-mails?  Was he afraid the Saints would lose?  Was it too much pot smoking?  Does it matter?  Not really.  It happened.  But if it were a political hit ... well, I hope he had serious reasons other than mad Tea Party or conservative ramblings (which, based on what I've heard about this shooter, is starting to seem less and less likely that it is based on conservative values -- he seemed to be working under his own belief system).

I think politicians, the people who makes decisions that affect the lives of people worldwide, can expect to be targets.  After all, when you vote to bomb a country back to the Stone Age, some people are bound to be pissed.  Some people may say that since you value human life so little, it's fair game to place an equal price tag on your life, and act on it. 

I'm going to end this post with a quote.  To get the full picture that led to this quote, one must understand what led to it.  In 1960 South Africa was a hotbed of racism.  Black protesters took to Sharpeville to demonstrate against pass laws, which restricted movement.  The protesters came out strong.  The violence they were met with by the police shocked even some members of the police.  In the end, 56 African men, women and children were killed by police, with another 160 or so injured. 

Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, known as the Architect of Apartheid, was a symbol of white supremacy in South Africa.  David Pratt, a white man, decided to assassinate him.  He got off two shots, but failed in his attempt.  An editorial appeared in Freedom, an anarchist publication which started in 1886.  It is titled "Too Bad He Missed."  Here's the quote: 

      "Millions of people throughout the world disgusted by the racial policies of the South African government will have read the news on the attempt on Verwoerd with disappointment only because the attempt failed.  For them, David Pratt did what they had neither the opportunity nor, in the event, the courage to do.  Of course assassination is a desperate act, and we know that the elimination of Verwoerd would not have removed the basic problems which divide the people of South Africa.  But who will deny that this is the only language that dictators and tyrants understand?  Verwoerd has escaped with his life, but we suggest that if he returns to lead the government what happened to him last Saturday will influence his future policy and the way he seeks to carry it out.  If he decides to retire then those who succeed him will be chastened by the thought that what might have happened to their predecessor might well happen to them."

I am not suggesting that Giffords is a racist tyrant, but she is part of a government (Left and Right) that has shown little compassion for the state of the world outside our own yard, and at times has shown just as little compassion for its own people.  I doubt the accused shooter had such high ideals as Pratt, but I think there is something the politicians should learn from this, and it's not just the need for more security.

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