15 January 2011

Uncommon Commentary #146: Mass Murder and Mass Media

My thoughts on the developments that followed the killings by Jared Loughner in Arizona fall into three groups:
  1. The media have played up this local tragedy as a "national" one, hence the single funeral for all seven victims, with our chief executive as a speaker; some commentators have even spoken of the US population as a "family" that needs healing. I certainly sympathize with and have been praying for the real families of the victims, but I don't feel that the massacre has affected me personally, for the simple reason that it hasn't; I didn't know any of the deceased, nor have I ever met the wounded or any relatives of theirs or of the deceased. I don't want to be callous, but I don't like insincerity (on my part or on anyone else's) either, and this all just impresses me as being rather overdone.
  2. There's been quite a contrast, hasn't there, between many leftists' reaction to this rampage and their reaction to that by Maj. Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood? They've capitalized Loughner's association with a White-supremacy organization in order to accuse Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, or anyone else who's regarded as right-wing of bearing responsibility for the massacre; even though Hassan is known to have been in contact with al-Qaeda, their speculations as to the motive for his shooting spree covered everything but the obvious, i.e., he's a jihadist. (One particularly benighted school of "thought" even incorporated an anti-war message, holding that Hassan, a psychiatrist, "snapped" as a result of having heard too many patients' narratives of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.)
  3. As noted above, the President spoke at the funeral; by account of sources usually disapproving of him, he gave a good speech, perhaps the only really good one that he's ever delivered. (I wonder who wrote it.) A main reason for this is that he said “At a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it's important for us to pause for a moment.” This message is true, although it would be more convincing coming from someone other than Barack "It's Bush's fault" Obama, and it ought to be noted also that this mild and unspecific rebuke (assuming that it was even meant to be one) falls far short of the strong denunciation that those who have exploited the tragic episode in Arizona for ideological purpose deserve. His words on this occasion were welcome, albeit, in my opinion, superfluous—see two paragraphs above—but there's no reason to lavish him with praise merely because he had sense enough to distance himself from libel by saying what could also have been said by a Republican (and which, if it had come from such a source, would not be regarded as especially noteworthy). As the familiar saying goes, it's always the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.