Barack Obama struck an absolutely perfect note when he spoke at the Memorial Service last night. Here we watched, almost accidentally, and with rapt attention, after coming in from shoveling snow. Sounds like Jan Brewer came through, too, even winning praise from Boltgirl.
What I found most sobering yesterday, however, was another chance encounter. As I was riding home with the Beeg in her emminently snow-worthy pick-up, we were listening to NHPR and heard some sobering commentary from the pen of Daisy Hernandez. It says about as much about our country today as anything I have heard or seen recently. As well, it speaks to the randomness, on some level, that contributes to the shape of history. Tragedy is tragedy … and yet, I am so glad that it didn’t unfold in some of the other ways it might have …
It’s safe to say there was a collective sigh of brown relief when the Tucson killer turned out to be a gringo. Had the shooter been Latino, media pundits wouldn’t be discussing the impact of nasty politics on a young man this week — they’d be demanding an even more stringent anti-immigrant policy. The new members of the House would be stepping over each other to propose new legislation for more guns on the border, more mothers to be deported, and more employers to be penalized for hiring brown people. Obama would be attending funerals and telling the nation tonight that he was going to increase security just about everywhere.
Even closer to home, what the commmentary uncovered for me, is how destructive it really is, to take an individual act and ascribe something broader to it. Had a skinhead been involved, I’d have thought to myself, “Oh, of course.” Just as someone else might think about a person of color … or even, sadly, someone with a severe mental illness. It’s all wrong-headed – and I thank you, Daisy Hernandez, for the wake-up call!
But that doesn’t mean that I have any problem at all with calling people out on what I perceive as obvious wrong-headedness and/or hypocrisy. I submit, for example, this wonderful piece from The Mudflats, a reprint of an article by Nick Jans about the intersection of reality TV and politics as seen in Alaska, but as is happening pretty much everywhere.