Yesterday, I was young again.
I didn't like it much.
Yesterday's events in Tucson, Arizona erased years of growth and maturity and progress. The murders of six people and the attempted murders of at least a dozen more including Congresswoman Giffords, were NOT assassinations. Congresswoman Giffords is not Benazir Bhutto, Martin Luther King or Mahatma Ghandi. She is not front and center advocating new and scary changes in the way we do business in this world.
She is an ideal representative, accessible to her constituents, a fiscal conservative, a representative who was concerned about both sides of Arizona's dicey immigration reform laws. She wasn't out in front, leading millions of people in a fight for independence. She is a public servant, an honorable thing to be. She appears to be a good one, too.
However, what she is, is a Democrat. And the designation "D-AZ" after her name in the Congressional Directory is what led one (or most likely two) unstable people to a Safeway in Tucson on Saturday morning. That, along with her vote in favor of health care for everyone placed Ms. Giffords' face on Sarah Palin's blog. One of many faces pictured in cross-hairs.
Make no mistake...that is NOT a dart board, no matter how hard people try to convince us it is. I'm pretty handy with a weapon myself, I used to shoot a .22 in competitions. I wasn't bad. Believe me, I'm spent no small amount of time looking through the business end of a scope. I know what cross-hairs look like.
Maybe it's age, maybe it's experience, maybe it's hormones, I can't tell you. But I felt no anger today. I felt the by now familiar "dear GOD" when I heard the news. But instead of anger or grief, I have been carrying around an overwhelming sadness.
Does anyone remember Kent State? I do. Senseless, tragic killings took place solely because some young, scared, angry National Guardsmen opened fire on a group of students who's basic crime was being in a group, protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and pitching some rocks at the authorities. Protesters were shot. Innocent bystanders were shot. And stunned, we looked at the images from Ohio and asked ourselves and anyone else who would listen: "What the HELL is going ON?"
Now, the basic premise of the gathering today was NOT to protest, no one threw rocks or called any cops "pigs" and I haven't heard of any draft cards being burned. But it brought back memories of people opening fire on people they didn't understand and, therefore, felt threatened by.
There will be a lot of outrage over the inflammatory nature of the rhetoric being spewed by the "Tea Party" of late. Phrases like "don't retreat-reload" and "taking out" ones opposition will be considered a catalyst to today's events, and I think rightly so. There ARE limits to one's first amendment protection. Sarah Palin immediately stripped all of her web presences of all pictures and phrases like the above. The Honorable Gabrielle Giffords' picture no longer appears in cross-hairs. She did this BEFORE she issued a statement of regret and condolence. It doesn't matter. Those entries are everywhere, have been for months now. And some unbalanced kid takes it all to heart and heads over to the local Safeway to save his state and his country from the devastating liberal takeover that's undoubtedly the reason for his many (and they do sound like many) problems.
And the Palins and the Angels and the O'Donnells and the Limbaughs and the O'Reillys of the public stage will wrap themselves up in the constitution and claim they did NOTHING wrong and they're only exercising their rights to free speech and some nutcase in Arizona isn't their fault. Bristol Palin just bought a house in southern Arizona and that probably doesn't have anything to do with this either. But why is it that where Palins go, trouble follows?
But, like the fury over Bill O'Reilly's inflammatory comments on Dr. Tiller, comments that well may have inspired Scott Roeder, this will all quiet down in a month. With heavy hearts we will bury our dead and remain positive about the recovering injured and go on just as we have.
I wish I know what to do about it, but I don't. I have opinions on pretty much everything. I figured out how to fix the foreclosure crisis, not that anyone will listen to me. I figured out how to stuff more money into California's empty coffers, not that anyone will listen to me on THAT either.
But this one? I've no clue. I think I'm just too damn sad about it to figure out a way to fix it. Maybe there is no way. I've said for years that this country needs a viable third party. But people...the Tea Party ISN'T IT. I've been watching this crap go down my entire life. In the end, it's hatred. Pure and simple. It's people hating people who aren't just like themselves. And this time, I'm stumped.