The terrible attack that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life and six others dead is tragic, senseless, and should serve as a wake up call to American society. My prayers are with the families of Ms. Giffords and the victims at this sad time.
We, as a society, should focus on discussing violent political rhetoric, gun control, and other such issues. We should also be talking about unity, respect, and legitimate debate, So I was stunned to see that people have the audacity to try to pin the blame on Sarah Palin for her Facebook target list.
Now in case it is not clear: LEFT Coast Voices is the domain of a rather leftist and ‘progressive’ author. It would take a lot for me to come out and defend Sarah Palin. We have nothing in common other than a fascination with grizzlies and a love for fishing.
But there are two topics that have me springing to her defense. The first is the disgusting way that some pundits have made fun of her family. There is no excuse for such gutter tactics.
The second is that Palin could, in any way, be implicated for promoting the environment that led to this tragic event. Now I have never met Ms. Palin and so clearly know everything about her views as well as the next person who trolls the blogosphere and watches The Daily Show. Like Ms. Griffords, she is a public figure, a leader, a woman, and a mother. Like the rest of reasonable society, she is, I am sure, shocked and praying for Ms. Grifford’s recovery.
I would like to think that we all will now think twice before using violent analogies. More than this, however, I would like to think we will think twice about how we allow people to carry arms. But somehow, throwing mud at other people seems to be the more obvious response. Sad – lessons are not being learned, or even considered.
I heard someone on NPR suggest that we all make an effort to reach out to the stranger in the elevator, on the bus, or in line at the store. By saying hello and smiling, could we prevent the level of alienation and marginalization of people who perpetrate terrible crimes against their fellow person and society. I don’t know. But isn’t it worth a try? And perhaps it should start with respect for our political opponents.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com