Sunday, January 16, 2011

After Tucson, Is the Anger Gone?

In the wake of the shootings in Tucson on Saturday, January 8th, many have expressed the hope that our political discourse might improve. But is America at a turning point? At a crossroads? Perhaps not. Matt Bai writes, in "After Tucson, Is the Anger Gone?" that not all hisorians would agree that turning points or transformational moments even occur.

... In what may have been his most emotional speech since the 2008 campaign, President Obama registered his own disappointment, pleading with all sides for temperance. “What we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another,” the president said in his Tucson eulogy. “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”

If the shooting didn’t feel like the turning point in the civic life of the nation that some of us had imagined it might become, then it may be because such turning points aren’t always immediately evident. Or maybe it’s because the murder suspect appeared to have no obvious ideology, his crime an imperfect parable for the consequences of political rhetoric.

Perhaps, though, we have to consider another explanation — that the speed and fractiousness of our modern society make it all but impossible now for any one moment to transform the national debate.

Not all historians accept the idea of transformational moments, which, they point out, may seem neater and more definitive in retrospect than they were at the time. But others are inclined to see the American story as a series of crescendos and climaxes, periods of mounting internal strife that are resolved, or at least recast, by crystallizing moments. ...

Bai's article was informed by talks with Beverly Gage, "who teaches 20th-century history at Yale" and John Lewis Gaddis, "the pre-eminent cold war scholar and Yale professor," both of whom describe historical events in the nation's history that may have been turning points.

In the end, we may simply have the insane act of one man. Both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times have lengthy articles about the man suspected in the Tucson shooting, Jared Lee Loughner. The LA Times' article is "Suspected Tucson shooter 'slowly spiraled into madness'." The NY Times' article is "Looking Behind the Mug-Shot Grin of an Accused Killer."

Whether the shooter was driven to act by the talk of "second amendment remedies" or imagery of rifle sights over Representative Gifford's district, some, perhaps not all, may tone down their "rhetoric." Republican disdain for Sarah Palin, which was becoming apparent before the shooting, had marginalized her. The shooting ended her political career. The country's political unconscious will forever link Sarah Palin to the shooting.

Obviously, there may not be much more to blog about Sarah Palin (Or could it be that crowing over her next lie or inconsistency might diminish her culpability in the shooting? In the sense that it could distract people from the greatest reason she is unqualifed for any office?) So, we've started a new blog, a Sarah Palin free zone, named "Blogging towards Bethlehem." It's still under construction, but has several posts, and some links, which may give you a sense of its flavor. There will be posts about politics, but they won't be news-chasing posts. This post may appear there.


nancydrew said...

Anyone so inclined to grant Palin the slightest bit of sympathy might be interested to know that Christina Green's parents allowed her organs to be donated. I read that at The Guardian and had not heard this before. The contrast between Mrs. Me, the poor, poor victim, and this sort of selfless response to tragedy and loss is so stark.

I think it's safe for you to close up shop and move on to more worthy uses of your time. One has to have some faith in our populace. Let the shunning begin. And thanks for adding your special bite to the interpretation of all things Palin.

DiAnne said...

I like the tone of this post and the first comment by Nancy...Let the shunning begin...

Sarah wouldn't turn down this gig. She's on her way to becoming the poster girl for the NRA. It may be the only job in town. Wouldn't that be sweet?