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National Grange Blog: Pointing Fingers
 

By Grace Boatright, National Grange Blog (1/13/11)

  JANUARY 19, 2011 --

On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon 4 times with a 38 special revolver. In the moments following the event, Chapman removed a copy of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye from his pocket, sat down on the curb outside the Dakota, and calmly read while waiting for police to arrive. Now, I’ve read numerous stories about the days following, and have even received personal accounts from those who can vividly recall learning of the news. What I do not recall; however, is reading of any viable source placing blame for John Lennon’s death on J.D. Salinger. I’m sure had anyone done such, they would have been ridiculed without mercy. 

However, that was over thirty years ago now, and we have since entered a new environment of legalities, politics, and media. Saturday’s shooting in Arizona was tragic, both for the loss of human lives and for the fact that many have taken this occasion to voice their distaste of some in the political arena. Paul Krugman, a New York Times reporter, wrote in his Sunday article that the “toxic rhetoric” provided by the Right inevitably set the stage for the tragedy that occurred. Further, he proclaimed; “You could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies [that a violent occasion like the Oklahoma City incident] was ready to happen again." MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann stated; "If Sharon Angle, who spoke of Second Amendment remedies does not repudiate that remark and urge her supporters to think anew and again of the terrible reality of what her words implied, she must be repudiated by her supporters in Nevada.” Markos Moulitsas, founder of the DailyKos, tweeted; "Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin." The list goes on and on. 

I’m rarely surprised by the lack of decorum, civility, and common sense displayed by the media, and those in it, but this has crossed a line I thought far ahead on the path to irrationality. These individuals seem to be missing the larger picture here: six lives were lost, including that of a 9-year-old girl, surely too young to have understood the media frenzy that took place after her death. Consequently, many have retaliated in response to these awful statements and accusations, including President Obama. Wednesday he encouraged that we not let this tragic event become “one more occasion to turn on one another.” Rather, he urged that we speak “in a way that heals,” and engage in debate “worthy of those we have lost.” Christina Green, the youngest of those we have lost, will be remembered today at her funeral, held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Tucson. 

Those who have participated in the ruthless political rhetoric following this tragic event should be ashamed of themselves. Blaming Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and other conservative commentators for the actions taken by one disturbed individual is a misplaced outburst of anger at having suddenly lost their political clout, and low blows such as the aforementioned is no way to regain the respect of American voters. I personally attended the Glen Beck rally in August, full of Tea Party members and those of the so-called “toxic rhetoric” responsible for the Tucson shooting, and I can assure each of you that these individuals are no more to blame for the deaths of Christina Green and John M. Roll than J.D. Salinger is for the death of John Lennon. 

Grace Boatright
National Grange Program Assistant

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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