Saving the World One Teen at a Time - Column on Parenting Tweens and Teens

Tucson: a Family Tragedy, an American Tragedy.

by Abby Margolis Newman

 

My kids are no strangers to political rallies. They have met John Kerry and John Edwards, and have accompanied me to protests against the Iraq War. I have a picture of my middle son, Aaron, from a local newspaper in 2004: he is sitting on my husband's shoulders, holding a handmade "Down with Bush! Go Kerry!" sign.

 

Aaron was nine at the time. I couldn't help but think about this when I heard about the shooting last weekend in Tucson, and the horrible fact that among the six dead is a nine-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Green, who was there to meet Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Christina was a third-grader who had recently been elected to her student council. Rep. Giffords was shot in the head, and is facing a long and difficult recovery in a Tucson hospital.

 

I recently wrote a column bemoaning the lack of civility in American politics and how it seems to have gotten to a point of crisis since the election of President Obama. Yes, there has always been vitriol in politics, but unless one is in utter denial, one cannot ignore the fact that - beginning with the 2008 election cycle (with people shouting "Kill Obama!" at Sarah Palin rallies) and continuing through the fight over healthcare (characterized by town-hall style meetings overrun by screaming, red-faced "Tea Party" folk who were there simply to disrupt and intimidate), our political climate and rhetoric has gotten much, much worse.

 

I will be honest here: I am someone who believes, with all my heart, that George W. Bush was the worst president in modern history. He took office at a time of peace and prosperity and job creation, and got us mired in two (illegal, undeclared) wars; wrecked our economy, turning surpluses into huge deficits (in part by giving giant tax cuts to the already-rich); and by the last year of Bush's presidency, our country was bleeding 700,000 jobs per month.

 

But.

 

The vast majority of those who, like me, vehemently disagreed with almost every move Bush made did not threaten violence against him. We did not carry guns to rallies. We did not go to town hall meetings with the sole intent of creating rude, disruptive anarchy. We did not throw rocks through windows of Congressional offices (as happened to several Democrats during the healthcare debate), nor did we spit on them and use offensive racial slurs or threats (as experienced by Democratic Representatives John Lewis of Georgia and James Clyburn of South Carolina, both African-American).

 

We did not - as Sarah Palin did - put a U.S. map on a website with gun-target cross hairs over the districts of certain candidates (including Ms. Giffords's), implying that those people needed to be "taken out" in the election of 2010.

 

Why did Republican political leaders not step forward to condemn this clearly dangerous trend? While all this was happening, the Republicans and conservatives in high-profile roles in politics and in the media were silent - and their silence created an impression of complicity.

 

cricket5
01.26.11

Can't believe that no comments have been posted, including the one that I submitted several days ago. If you are going to post such subjective articles that are clearly on the attack, then you should allow responses to be posted as well. I usually love Mommy Track'd and the articles, but this one gave me reason to pause.

pt33333
01.24.11

Extremes on either side of the spectrum are not good - left or right. And while you make valid points about horrible behavior by those at the extreme right, your are wrong when you make blanket statements that those on the left NEVER do anything violent or abhorrent. In March 2010, a registered Democrat and Obama donor fired shots into the campaign office of Republican Representive Cantor from VA and had made death threats against Cantor. Liberal protestors at the 2008 Republican National Convention tried to tip over a bus full of Boy Scouts and also were dropping sandbags off of overpasses. Ecoterrorists are also on the left end of the spectrum and have committed numerous violent and destructive acts. I could name more, but I'm pretty sure that no matter how many examples I give you, you'll still persist in believing that only right-leaning people do anything horrible and those on the left are innocent victims all the time. Personally, I do tend to be on the right, and I also am appalled at the acts that are committed by those in the extreme of both sides.

Your attempt to characterize the horrific shootings in Tucson as another example of right-wing violence is not actually correct either. From accounts of those closest to the shooter, he had been isolating himself socially over the years and had espoused nihilistic beliefs. Essentially, he believed in nothing. He falls in neither the right or left side. He literally believed in nothing, that nothing means anything. His anger with Giffords originated in her inability to answer his unanswerable philosophical question. She could just as easily have been a Republican and the same thing would have happened. If Giffords had been Republican, would you have thought her being shot was still a tragedy, or someone on the right-wing finally getting a taste of their own medicine?

This shooting has been a horrible thing. Unimaginable awful for the family of Christina Taylor. The other tragedy is the exploitation of this tragedy for some to make political statements.

cricket5
01.19.11

I disagree. I believe all Americans are responsible for the way that our society behaves. A society will only bear what is allowed. Not allowed by one political party, but allowed by the entire society. What happened was horrible, disgusting and heartbreaking, but to blame compartmentalize the country and blame one segment only adds more fuel to the fire, more fight to the battle, more hate to the rhetoric.