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January 13, 2011 8:15 am

EDITORIAL: Shooting an attack on America

Written by Don Amend

Once again, an act of terrorism has our flag flying at half staff.

Last week’s shooting in Arizona, which killed, among others a 9-year-old and a federal judge, was apparently aimed at a member of the United States Congress, who was seriously wounded and will face disability, probably for the rest of her life.

The incident has revived perennial arguments about safety and security.

Many are blaming this attack on the current political climate, and there may be something to that.

Others, however, point to the fact that the attacker is apparently mentally unstable, and they hold that the attack had nothing to do with politics.

Both positions are arguable, to say the least, and there will be considerable debate in the immediate future. No one can say at this point whether the shooter was driven by ideology, inspired by angry political rhetoric or simply responding to an inner demon when he pulled the trigger.

What is apparent, though, is that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was not a random target, but one selected because she is an elected official. Moreover, she was an easy target because she was doing her job, meeting the public and providing her constituents with a chance to meet and talk with her in person. The others who were killed or wounded were there to take advantage of their First Amendment rights as citizens to assemble and petition our government officials. 

Consequently, this attack quite naturally has raised concerns among members of the House and Senate. Congress currently is held in low esteem by many Americans, and they are dealing with emotional issues in a divided nation. Members of both parties, including Rep. Giffords, have received threats in recent months because of their positions on issues, and they do not enjoy the protection that the president receives.

By the nature of their jobs, though, congressmen must maintain contact with the people, exactly what Rep. Giffords was doing when she was attacked. Moreover, those who were killed or wounded in the attack were acting as citizens in a republic should act, making contact with the person they chose to represent them.

In other words, last weekend’s attack was against an event that is the essence of our democracy, the meeting of the people with their government. As such, it was an attack on us as a nation.

The current tone of political debate may or may not have led to last week’s attack, but those who lead that debate, and those of us who participate in it, should at least consider the possibility that it did.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link January 14, 2011 12:08 pm posted by Salty Dawg

    Given the atmosphere in America anymore,this tragedy is not surprising.Politics have become a dismal joke along with social life.People are running scared because of everything from REDDI calls to sorry economics and dissent is bound to happen.It's the old "divide and conquer" tactic that has been used in past civilizations.

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