Love and Hate and Heroism

Three more articles about the assassination attempt on Rep. Giffords this past weekend.

First, from Esquire Magazine, Tom Junod writes:

Why should Jared Loughner change the discourse, when there’s no evidence as yet that he was affected by the discourse?

The answer, of course, is that there’s murder in the discourse, and everyone knows it.

Second, from The NY Times, Robert Wright writes:

In that sense, the emphasis the left is placing on violent rhetoric and imagery is probably misplaced. Sure, calls to violence, explicit or implicit, can have effect.  But the more incendiary theme in current discourse is the consignment of Americans to the category of alien, of insidious other. Once Glenn Beck had sufficiently demonized people at the Tides Foundation, actually advocating the violence wasn’t necessary.

By the same token, Palin’s much-discussed cross-hairs map probably isn’t as dangerous as her claim that “socialists” are trying to create “death panels.”  If you convince enough people that an enemy of the American way is setting up a system that could kill them, the violent hatred will take care of itself.

Third, at the Austinist, Spike Gillespie (whose article pointed me to Wright’s) writes:

Political parties are not parents. But politicians do claim to represent the people, often referring to a collective “us” the same way a family might identify itself as an “us” even if not all members see eye-to-eye.  There’s a lot of chatter now, post-shooting, calling for unity. I ’m not so naïve as to believe the hate talk will permanently end. But I like to imagine that if enough individuals lay down their own arms (literal and verbal) perhaps we can begin a little ripple effect. Maybe not a group hug. Maybe just a much-needed moment of silence.

And finally, Katy Steinmetz at Time writes:

Wearing an all-black outfit with thick-rimmed, stylish glasses, he [Daniel Hernandez, the intern credited with saving Giffords’ life] rarely pauses and never stumbles, exhibiting a talent for rhetoric that politicians four times his age would envy. He objects to the word hero, explaining that while he may have done something brave, dedicated public servants like Giffords are the ones who should be championed. But people who know him disagree. “He literally went in the line of fire to save Gabby,” says Sami Hamed, a friend of both Hernandez and Giffords. “Not many people would do it. But also, not many people would be as calm as he was, during the shooting and after the shooting.”


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