Monday, January 10, 2011

The Opened Door

So it has begun. A national tragedy involving the best - and the worst - of America has taken place, and the news media (if it can be called "news") have begun to make haste in trying to make more out of the Arizona shooting than there actually is. On the surface it seems simple: a person lost his mind, and others have been made to suffer for his instability ... or his ideology, depending on what one will draw from this senseless tragedy.

One particular commentary began as a decent piece about the need to refrain from "pointing fingers" in response to the "vitriolic politics" mentioned by the Pima County AZ sheriff, but the writer suddenly began pointing his own finger by subtly mentioning that such a toxic political atmosphere began during the Bush administration and has been ramped up by Republicans since the election of President Obama. How's that for not pointing fingers? And is he kidding? Can he or any other American seriously believe politics was in any way "nice" before President GW Bush? To quote former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "Are you serious? Are you serious?"

The AZ sheriff opened a door with his political commentary, but it may have seemed a natural progression since one among the wounded is a member of the US Congress and does seem to have been the intended target. However, does this necessarily change the nature of the shooting from "tragedy" and "criminal" to "political" or even "ideological", regardless of the shooter's intent? The question left for the news media (again, a loosely applied term of reference) and for thinking Americans is: do we go through that door? And if we do, what will we hope to accomplish?

Sadly, too many have virtually rushed through the door in an effort to blame Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other conservative commentators which has brought sharp responses from the more conservative side. It seems to me it is the media itself that have taken a criminal act perpetrated by a lone shooter and created for themselves an ideological jump-off point to make themselves and their insidious remarks seem plausible.

There is little doubt politicians make stupid and rash comments in an effort to be in the news, but notice, dear readers and thinkers, that it is the media perpetuating the toxicity. It's what we get when we go through the door left open.

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