Stop politicizing tragedy

Suppose you are walloped by a horrible tragedy. You receive word that three of your closest relatives have been murdered.

Now imagine one of your friends phones with his condolences. "I am so sorry for your loss. But isn't this another example of what happens in this country because our gun control laws are so weak? We would have fewer killings of this sort if only we would do something about gun control. Don't you agree?"

After you recover from that, another friend calls. "You must feel terrible," she says. "You know, I don't think this would have happened to you if we had done something about global warming. It is global warming that is causing people to do terrible things. They are growing desperate. Let me drop off a book about this for you to read."

A third friend stops at your house. "This is soooo horrible for you. I cannot imagine what you must feel like, losing three relatives like this. It's the talk shows, you realize. Those killers were probably big fans of Rush Limbaugh and all that hate-talk on the radio."

Would you maybe feel these friends are insensitive? Would you maybe feel they should hold off with the talk about their favorite causes? At least until after the funeral?



This is how many leaders in America treat tragedies these days. Tragedies like the massacre in California this week. Leaders like our president. And other politicians and prominent guys.

The bodies were still warm. They had not even made it to the morgue. Yet some of these birds had mounted their soap boxes on the corpses. They offered a few words of condolences. But they also used the opportunity to push for tighter gun laws. Without knowing how the idiots who did the killing got their hands on the guns. Without acknowledging California has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.

Some others claimed global warming or climate change contributed to this mayhem.

Others declared this was Muslim extremism again. And that we must do something about it. This before any investigation.

This is not new. If a black teenager is gunned down tonight Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will form posses by morning. They will play judge and jury. They will declare without evidence that this is another example of violence against young black men. Somewhere in their jabber they will say something about the family's unfortunate loss.

Fortunately, some parents have resisted this circus. They have had the sense to tell Al and Jesse they are not welcome.

Big politician Rahm Emanuel advised his followers to never let a serious crisis go to waste. He meant they could use the crisis to gain leverage. Leverage to win advantage over others. He never suggested they do so before the bodies were buried. But that is what our leaders do.

The President, for instance, talked about gun control in America. He feels we should do more of what he advocates. Okay. But, Mr. President, is it necessary to include this in your first message to the nation? On the day of the massacre? "Sorry about your husband, Mrs. Lincoln. Would you like to sign this petition for a larger Secret Service?"

Call me old-fashioned. But it seems a lot more civilized for our leaders to observe a period of mourning. It seems more decent for them to abstain from politicizing these tragedies. At least for a few days.

Of course we have seen President Obama do this before. He has weighed in on unfortunate deaths of young black men. Without knowing the facts. He used their deaths to alert us to what he believes. About how police handle young black men. This is a form of politicizing.

Media are just as guilty. They want to sell papers. They want to attract audience. They want to make money from tragedies. Blood in the streets. Details at eleven. But our leaders are not trying to make money from tragedies. They are trying to gain political ground.

It seems to me our leaders maybe should zip it. Acknowledge the tragedy, yes. Invite us to try sober reflection. Determine if they can help the families and friends in their mourning. Determine if there are practical possibilities. Maybe they could assign someone to help distant relatives fly home.

If they feel some policies or new laws might help prevent such tragedies, fine. Quietly start work on them. If they feel investigations are appropriate, fine. Quietly arrange.

Otherwise, have the decency to zip it. Stop using bodies to advance ideologies. Especially when the bodies are still warm.

From Tom...as in Morgan.

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