The Arizona shooting is indeed a tragedy, as are all homicides since Cain killed Abel. I feel pain and sympathy for her suffering, as well, if not more so, for those and the families of those who actually lost their lives in the attack. So what follows should not be taken or misconstrued as insensitive to that reality.
But we must speak plainly in the wake of the media response to this event. Many have immediately “politicized” the event, for example, trying to say variously that Sarah Palin is responsible because she had a target logo on Giffords’ district on her website, or that it was the left’s fault because the killed was deranged by fringe leftist thinking, at least as described by his classmates. Many others have taken the moral high ground of condemning this “politicization” of a tragedy.
I for one think that the political angle is unavoidable. Those who say that “politicizing” the event is somehow crossing a line are themselves drawing a political line anyway. An assassination attempt on an elected official is by definition a political event. We should be able to speak about it, and about its fallout and ramifications, plainly. I mean the political aspects of the act, apart from the personal and emotional.
More than the personal, I even more lament the fact that this event does in fact affect us all on a political level. It should, I repeat, absolutely should disturb me at a personal and emotional level, and it does. But it should only disturb me on a personal and emotional level. It should not be political to hardly anyone. But it is. It is inevitably, pointedly and painfully political. And this is the greater tragedy.
The fact that a lone nut job in Arizona can potentially affect my freedom in Georgia, or yours in Peoria, or Camden, or Dallas, or Ft. Lauderdale, underscores how far into tyranny we have been drawn. This is highly political, and it should not be—and that is the national tragedy.
Now there are only two ways in which this act can truly verge on politics: 1) if the attack was carried out specifically for political reasons (it is not yet completely clear if or to what extent this is the case), or 2) if the media and politicians immediately begin to leverage the event to back a political agenda. This is what has happened on several fronts.
I was disappointed to see the guys at TechTicker, for example,—who rarely diverge from their own narrow specialty of economic journalism—veer into this issue with alarmingly Statist opinions. They often lean conservative on economic issues, so they surprised me by diving into the depths of liberalism on this one:
given that crazy people often use guns to kill people, and given that guns are available everywhere in this country, it does seem worth at having a conversation about our gun laws. . . . Lastly, should we make an effort to curtail the angry political rhetoric that has inflamed so much of the national discourse over the past few years?
Sure enough, the issue had no sooner emerged into the headlines when the most gun-control rabid of Congresspersons, Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), promised to leverage the event for “different legislation fixes that we might be able to do and we might be able to introduce as early as tomorrow.” She wants more gun-control laws, immediately.
For this very politicizing reason, it is important that people like John Green, the father of the nine-year old girl who died in the attack, has publically stated that he believes in and practices gun ownership, and does not believe that this attack should be leveraged for the purpose of advancing gun-control laws or further restrictions on society. He even continues to lament how a previous tragedy (9–11) was leveraged by the central government in order allegedly to make us safe, and yet this has led to numerous, dubious, and unnecessary burdens to American life. (Because, at the time, if you remember, it was terribly in bad taste to say anything that might construed as insensitive due to the fact that 3,000 people had just lost their lives.)
Mr. Green is clearly politicizing the event, and rightly so, from a limited government point of view. And I agree with him. This is the point. When we look to the central government to give us solutions to our problems, we end up with greater problems. We end up with more government and less freedom, and the original problem usually finds ways of recurring anyway.
As Green himself wisely says, there are “always going to be random acts. . . . I think that’s the price we have to pay” for living in a free society.
I agree, despite how insensitive that may sound in the face of a now nationalized murder and suffering.
Was this not the view of our forefathers, after all? Most of us have heard at one time the saying of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This saying is engraved in the Statue of Liberty.
And Thomas Jefferson insensitively declared, “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”
The problem is, too many American would nod in sentimental agreement with these comments under normal conditions, but then shrivel at them in the face of a brutal publicized tragedy such as this. We must offer our sincere sympathy, love and support to the wounded and mourning, yet stand more firm than ever on the principles of freedom without which would be much worse in the big picture.
So when I say I’ve heard enough about Giffords already, do not take that to mean I’m insensitive to the suffering or tragedy. Rather, I’m already fuming over the media leveraging of it.
And I am particularly willing to risk my reputation (what little there is!) to decry forcefully the Statist slant of it all—the call for solutions from Washington, the readiness of politicians to jump for that alley-oop, and the paralysis the emotional, personal side of the issue places on the average American.
Don’t sit silent: voice you’re opposition to more centralized government power even more stridently than before. Voice your demand for more freedom more loudly and more often than before. Say it in every forum and in every corner of the internet, and on every street corner and marketplace.
If we continue to allow central government to solve these types of problems, then we have to face the fact that we continue to legitimize strong centralized power at the expense of liberty and local freedom. The more we legitimize strong national government, the more we make it sacrosanct. The more we make it sacrosanct, the more it abuses its status (as it always has), and it will do so with immunity under the guise of solving “national” tragedies. It will more and more use its power to curtail and steal ours.
And the solutions it gives will always be those that make central government stronger and individuals more subservient. It’s explanations of grand events will always be those that glorify big government—that call us to sympathize and cry at the losses of big government. It will then place a taboo on even considering—even daring to mention—the fact that its own tyranny magnified the probability of the event to begin with.
For example, just look at the language that gun-control advocate McCarthy used in calling for new laws: “Again, we need to look at how this is going to work to protect people, certainly citizens, and we have to look at what I can pass.” See: it’s a bill to “protect” people, and it has to be subtly enough presented that it won’t cause suspicion against the politicians. Only enough to take some liberties while the emotional draw of battered women and children still has some effect on the public mind; but not too much to raise the eyebrows of the watchdogs of those liberties, for she said, “I don’t want to give the National Rifle Association—excuse the pun—the ammunition to come at me, either.”
In other words, it is detrimental to a liberal’s political career to say what one really thinks. So they steal liberty in small increments, when the emotions are running high, when it’s politically viable to do so.
Worse even than that, another liberal Congressman is trying to score points against Palin (and probably more importantly her vast right-wing following) at the expense of freedom of speech: “Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.”
And of course the important thing here is not “threatening or inciting violence”—we all agree that’s wrong, and in fact it’s already normally illegal to do this to anyone, including a federal official. So making a new law to that degree is a joke. But the language “could be perceived as” is the freedom-killer. It is handing over the whole ballgame to government, letting them determine what “could be perceived as” threatening or inciting violence—and then prosecuting you, judging you, and sentencing you based on their perception.
This bill of course is intended in reference to things like the targets on Palin’s website. Those easily “could be perceived as” threatening or inciting violence. This type of expression therefore could make you a felon. If it comes, then welcome to Amerika. But if you didn’t speak out when it was unpopular and n bad taste to do so, then consider that your silent vote for Amerika.
Other agendas are even more subtle, but lead to the same logical conclusions. One writer has decried the politicization in favor of targeting a social cause: a refusal publically to deal with mental illness. In his well-written article, Michael Lacey points this out, yet leaves us with what option? That we need a stronger national policy on mental illness seems to be the implication, though he does not say this explicitly and I would love to hear him deny this and offer a more decentralized and Christian solution to dealing with the mentally ill. He says, “America’s refusal to address mental illness institutionalized homelessness and yields a deadly cocktail of rampant drug abuse and violence that we are too civil to discuss frankly.”
Well, I for one try not to be too civil. Forgive me, but in times like these with events like these, it is more important than ever not to give in to the forces of opportunistic tyranny. We must stand for freedom and self-government more boldly than ever before, despite the possibility of offending some people who consider State-imposed “good taste” more important than truth and freedom.
Besides, the many people yelling at me things like “life is more important than politics” are often the very people cheering their sons and daughters overseas to fight and to die in a series of highly-politicized and controversial wars. If that’s you, don’t tell me life is more important politics. But then again, big-government’s military has been legitimized as sacrosanct by most people on the right (and most on the left, too).
What is absolutely forbidden to say here is that the when a lone nutcase does what big governments do every day on a scale of thousands greater, the media criticizes freedom and calls for more big-government—and many Americans remain silent, or worse, even agree. Centralized governments rob, steal, plunder, kill, imprison, probe, invade, rape, torture, and more every day; but when one lone nut job does this to an agent of government, it’s decried as a “national tragedy.” It is a national tragedy no doubt, but the greater national tragedy has been left unaddressed.
The question, in the big picture, is whether we would rather chose the type of society in which the main risk is that lone nutcase who may be out there (and who does surface once in a while), or whether we would rather have that type of society in which we definitely surrender our lives to the whims of a few thousand power-drunk nutcases in a Central government.
There is a scene in Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot, when Gibson’s character Francis Marion addresses a zealous town hall that wishes to go to war:
Mister Robinson, tell me, why should I trade one tyrant, three thousand miles away, for three thousand tyrants, one mile away? . . . An elected legislature can trample a man’s rights just as easily as a King can.
Today we have those three thousand tyrants, and a thousand times more. The Central government employs nearly three million people, the armed forces count 1.5 million, not counting reserves. Heck, the IRS alone employs 100,000 nosy reviewers and collectors. In order to return to the level of tyranny Marion feared, we would have to reduce the size of the federal government by a factor of 1,000.
As a representation of the type of fears of our founders, however, Marion is not far off at all. Consider, again, the views of Jefferson and Franklin above.
The National Tragedy is that so many people openly prefer tyranny to liberty, if by the former they can also have a promise of “safety.” The National tragedy is that so few have the nerve even to speak against that tyranny for fear of losing popularity. The fear is that we refuse to restate our position publically in a time of need because it will especially seem in bad taste at the moment to do so.
Of course, that’s how the left captured America to begin with: by making the doctrines of liberty seem insensitive and cold to the poor huddled masses, the children, and the elderly. Who could be so callous?
Like I said, this event should only disturb me on a personal and emotional level. It should not be political to hardly anyone. But it is. It is inevitably, pointedly and painfully political.
And that’s the National Tragedy.