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The big news last week was, of course, the horrific shooting in Tuscon, Ariz., where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, was holding an informal meeting with constituents in front of a supermarket.
The past weekend was filled with sadness, as most of those killed were laid to rest. But, there was good news, that, despite being shot in the head, Giffords has survived and appears to be making a remarkable recovery, according to her doctors.
In the meantime, though, many speculated that the escalating angry political rhetoric on TV, online and in the news – particularly from proponents of the far right – is responsible for this terrifying act of violence.
Personally, I believe the ever-widening rift among Americans is being encouraged by people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, who, despite what they say, are not inspired by patriotism or any pure concern for our country.
They do it because they know they can make boatloads of money. Palin, for example, stepped down from her job as governor of Alaska – not because she intends to run for president, as so many think, but because she knew she could make millions by keeping the media focused on her. Books, TV shows and air time on FOX as a “commentator” have garnered her millions and millions of dollars – money she could never have made as a public servant.
I fully believe that, when the 2012 election comes, her name will not appear on any ballot. No. Her time will be up and she will retire to roll around in all the piles of money she’s raked in.
Of course, that’s provided she can cure herself of that addiction to the sound of her own voice.
That said, I don’t think Palin’s acidic rhetoric is solely to blame for the tragedy in Arizona. But, the rallying cry of the Tea Party and of people I’ve actually had online conversations with since who support the Tea Party line, is “We must fight to get our country back.” One man told me violence is OK, because it was violence that started the American Revolution and led to the birth of our nation.
First, I didn’t know our country was something we needed to “get back.” It’s right here, waiting for cooler heads to prevail and for people like U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to stop caring more about their own power and begin paying attention to the needs and concerns of the people – Republican, Democrat or Independent.
Violence is NEVER the answer to anything. Just look at the Middle East and all those countries in Africa, where violence is an everyday occurrance.
Nope. Don’t see much progress there.
Mental illness, obviously, is to blame for shooter Jared Loughner’s act of terrorism. But, how can we be sure that this message of hate being constantly handed to us from the far right didn’t trickle into his deteriorating mind?
I say, why risk it? Let’s return to civil conversation and debate over issues and ideas. We may not agree, but that’s what compromise is for.
Abraham Lincoln (who, I might remind those who may disagree with me, was a Republican president) once said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
There is much disagreement with how things are working – or not working – in Washington, but violence (or merely the angry sabre-rattling statements being made in the media these days) will not solve those problems.
The rhetoric must stop, and both sides must relearn how to work together. It is not about who has power, or how much: It is about keeping our country intact and upholding the ideals set forth by our founding fathers.
If we cannot do this, nobody wins and our country will be lost – to all of us – forever.
Phyllis McLaughlin is editor of The Trimble Banner and a resident of Milton, Ky.