Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

In Defense of the Grizzly Mom

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


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2 thoughts on “In Defense of the Grizzly Mom

  1. I agree that Palin, regardless of her political agendas and beliefs-which I disagree with 100%, should NOT be singled out for blame in the shooting that took place in Arizona. What happened in Arizona is a problem that has more to do with American culture than anything else.

    However, I disagree that harsh gun controls will rid America of this kind of violence. An example is the war on drugs. The more the US government tries to combat drugs, the more drugs seem to find a way into the US through illegal means.

    By limiting access to weapons, the only people that will suffer are honest people who do not misuse weapons and will not use the black market to buy them. We cannot legislate away crime or people like the crazy shooter in Arizona. If someone is motivated enough and crazy enough to go out and kill, he or she will still find a way to buy weapons on the black market. Then there would be no way to trace the trail of the weapons the criminals used.

    For example, America tried to stop alcohol consumption during the Prohibition and all that resulted was more drinking, violence, and bloodshed.

    We cannot legislate away danger. However, parents could do a better job raising their children so there are fewer people such as this killer in Arizona. Take the Columbine High School shooting. Those boys were in their bedrooms making bombs and planning how to kill other kids while their parents were downstairs watching TV. Studies show that the average American parents talk less than five minutes a day with their children and more than half of American’s children are latchkey kids who are essentially raising themselves.

    Recently, a Chinese-American mother, Amy Chua, wrote an essay in The Wall Street Journal, which was “Why Chinese mothers are Superior”. You may find a link to Amy’s essay at the Huffington Post.


    Amy Chua also wrote a book on the topic called “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mothers”, which was released January 11 of this year.

    The overwhelming response among many Americans has been to attack Amy Chua for her tough love approach to parenting, which is very Asian and is the most common method Chinese mothers use to raise children.

    In fact, parents in all of Asia have raised children using the tough love approach for centuries due to China’s influence. In China, the tough love method Amy Chua writes of in her memoir has been used for more than two thousand years. An attack on Amy Chua is an attack on the most successful civilization in the history of man. For more than two thousand years until the 19th century, China was a regional super power. Two thousand years ago, the Han Dynasty was more powerful and more technologically advanced than the Roman Empire at its highest point. China achieved all this because Chinese mothers used the tough love approach to raising children and they still do.

    In many ways, the vicious attacks against Chua are similar to the attacks on Palin. Moreover, like you defending Palin, I wrote a post on my Blog in defense of Tiger Mothers such as Amy Chua.

    • I’m not here with you Lloyd. In the UK (at least when I grew up) you could not buy weapons. This didn’t stop crime, violent crime, but you never saw such examples as we saw this week, or those you mention. Earlier this week, a kid brought a gun to Berkeley High.

      Berkeley has its problems, I won’t sugar coat it, but this was too close to home. I’m sure we will discover that he picked up the gun from one of his parents.

      Amy Chua – I’ve been following this and have a couple of posts on Saturday, so I don’t want to jump the gu– Well, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here. Happy to hear your response on Saturday.
      Thanks for commenting,

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