suntimes
IMPERFECT 
Weather Updates

Blame lunatic for Ariz. tragedy, not Palin or rhetoric

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Born on Sept. 11, 2001, Christina-Taylor Green was 9 years old.

She had been featured in a book called Faces of Hope, which told the stories of children born on that tragic day.

Christina was in third grade. The granddaughter of baseball’s Dallas Green, she was the only girl on her Little League team.

Having recently been elected to the student council, Christina had an interest in politics, which is what led her to the “Congress on Your Corner” event Saturday.

Christina was one of six victims fatally shot on Saturday.

Nine years old.

Like millions of others, I turned to Twitter and other social media and newsgathering sites to see what was being said about the horrific shootings. There was much mourning for the victims — but at least as much politicizing of the issue. Maybe more.

Who’s responsible?

Details were still coming in on Saturday, yet so many were rushing to condemn Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party and other right-wingers. Rushing to connect heated rhetoric with the violence.

My reaction on Twitter:

“Of course Palin’s ‘crosshairs map’ was tasteless and base. But the person responsible for the Arizona shootings is the sick f--- that pulled the trigger.

“A nine-year-old girl among those killed. Thoughts and prayers for families of all victims. Who gives a s--- about Sarah Palin right now.”

Many agreed. Others refused to be sidetracked from their agenda. Some responses:

“As far as I’m concerned, those spreading lies, like Fox/Palin, are just as responsible.”

“Bin Laden didn’t fly planes into WTC so he shouldn’t be pursued? Realize the weak-minded want to be told what to do.”

“Sorry but u can’t let Sarah Palin off the hook. Incendiary rhetoric from her, Glenn Beck and others only fans the flames.”

Jane Fonda had her own thoughts: “In her ads, Sarah Palin had [Gabrielle Giffords] targeted in a gun site. Inciting to violence...Beck guilty too. Shame...”

People were making outrageous leaps. Surprising? No. Depressing? Yes.

Sarah Palin isn’t responsible for the shootings any more than J.D. Salinger was accountable for the murder of John Lennon, “Taxi Driver” was the cause of the attempted assassination on Ronald Reagan or video games were the motivating factor behind the Columbine shootings.

Maybe even less so. Mark David Chapman had a copy of The Catcher in the Rye with him when he shot Lennon and the Columbine shooters were into video games such as Doom and John Hinckley repeatedly watched “Taxi Driver.” As of this writing, there’s no indication that Arizona gunman Jared Lee Loughner was a Palin follower.

But that’s beside the point. It’s the individuals who pulled the trigger, and not any cultural influences, who were responsible for these violent acts. Even if Loughner had a shrine to Palin, complete with a poster of Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” map, he’s the one with blood on his hands.

Read Loughner’s rantings: “I can’t trust the current government because...the government is implying mind control on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!”

Watch the video in which Loughner, wearing a trash bag, a hoodie and a bizarre mask, appears to “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” by Drowning Pool and burns the American flag before leaving the viewer with this message: “I want you never fearing of wrongful incrimination by local police [cult leaders].”

His favorite books: everything from Animal Farm to The Wizard of Oz to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to Mein Kampf to the Communist Manifesto.

What are we to glean from all this? That heated rhetoric from the right led to the shootings? Huh?

How about this: He’s a nutjob. A twisted, sick mind that exploded. All the back and forth about heated political rhetoric, all the attempts to capitalize on this tragedy, won’t change that.

On Page 41 of Faces of Hope, there’s a photo of Christina, born at 12:50 p.m. on 9/11. Wearing a hat with a little bow on it.

“I hope you help those in need,” reads the message on the page before Christina’s picture. “I hope you see rainbows.”

On the page after her photo, the message reads, “I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.