Yesterday's Arizona Safeway massacre was a horrific act by a seriously disturbed individual. Eighteen people were shot. Six died, including a federal judge, a congressional staffer, and a nine year old girl.
Judge John Roll ,63; Dorthy Murray, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Christina Greene, 9; Phyllis Scheck, 79; and Gabriel Zimmerman, 30 all lost their lives yesterday, in a senseless act of violence by a mentally unstable young man named Jared Lee Loughner. His motivations are unclear. Unless, of course, one can make sense of a rambling rant about government mind control through grammar.
Twelve people were injured, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head but is, thankfully, expected to survive her injuries. Rep. Giffords was fresh off a legislative victory, having successfully passed legislation reducing congressional pay by 5%. The legislation passed the House with a whopping 410-13 majority. Giffords was interviewed by Fox News' Bill Hemmer Friday morning, before the vote, so she could explain the legislation. She was concise, articulate and pleasant. Her proposal was timely and well received, and it is a crying shame that we will not have her moderate, common-sense voice on the Hill for the foreseeable future.
Gabriel Zimmerman was an aide to Rep. Giffords who was loved and respected for his outreach in his community. Judge Roll had simply come by to say hello to his friend Giffords after church. Christina Green, born on Sept. 11, 2001 and a member of her school's student government, was there to learn about the political system and meet her congresswoman. None of them should have died yesterday.
But a madman took their lives, violently and, at least so far, without reason. Even if his attack on Rep. Giffords was politically motivated, his subsequent random shooting of onlookers defies reason. Can we really argue that nine year old Christina Green was a political threat?
The reason those six people are dead is because they were attacked by a mentally unstable young man. Before his name was even released, some on the left were painting him as a right-winger and tea partier. As usual. They did the same with Joseph Stack, who flew his plane into an IRS building. Amy Bishop, the socialist professor who killed three of her colleagues was also initially accused of being right wing. Let's not forget, too, Michael Enright, the liberal volunteer who slashed a NY cabbie after first asking if he was Muslim, and Bill Sparkman, the Census worker who committed suicide in such a way as to make it seem like murder solely for insurance purposes. Both of them were also erroniously labeled right-wingers reflexively, before any investigation had been done.
Instead of pointing fingers and manipulating information to score political points, how about we do something novel and unheard of in these hyper-political times - refrain from accusations until an investigation has been conducted and concentrate, instead, on supporting the victims and coming together as a nation to express and work through our grief?
Six innocent people died yesterday, and twelve more were injured. THAT is the important story of the day. We may eventually learn Loughner's motivation, we may not. But this finger pointing is not productive and only lowers the level of discourse in this country and ratchets up the anger even more.
We are not allowed to grieve in this country anymore. Instead we are expected to become even more enraged as pundits attempt to place blame to score political points before the facts are in. Those who scream about "accountability" should consider the effect their unfounded accusations have, as well as their non-existent or whispered retractions when they are proved wrong. That we have come to the point where political opponents are considered an "enemy" that deserves to be "punished" is indicative of a national malaise that will only fester and grow with every false accusation and politically motivated exaggeration.
As for me, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families - particularly Christina Green's parents. As a mom, my heart breaks for the loss of that beautiful, promising child. What a horrible, horrible waste. The person(s) I hold accountable for her loss is Jared Lee Loughner and his as-yet unidentified accomplice. Period.
So please, America, let's have a little perspective, shall we? Let's focus on the victims for now, and allow the police to interrogate and investigate. There will be plenty of time during and after his trial to affix blame.
UPDATE: Let's hope the Patriot Guard Riders are saddling up, because the despicable Westboro Baptist Church is planning on protesting nine year old Christina Green's funeral. Will the insanity never end?
UPDATE II: Jared Loughner has been exhibiting extremely disturbing behavior for some time now, to the point where he was asked by the school to go in for a mental evaluation before allowing him to return to school:
The suspect was suspended from a Tucson community college in October after what the school said were multiple run-ins with campus police that led to his suspension.
...Pima Community College warned Loughner in a follow-up letter that to return to campus, he had to present a doctor's note stating that his presence would not be "a danger to himself or others."
His college math teacher and fellow classmates were terrified of him. He had had contact with Rep.Giffords before and it is beginning to look like she was indeed the main target of the shooting (some had been speculating that Judge Roll might have been the target). There is no accomplice - the person in question was a cabbie who had followed him to the venue when Loughner didn't pay the fare.