[image align=”right”]http://www.mattmaiorana.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Screen-shot-2011-01-08-at-5.05.26-PM.png[/image]Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others were shot this morning in Arizona. Among those already listed as dead are a 9-year-old child and a federal judge. The shooter is in custody.
Gabrielle was holding a “Congress on your Corner” event.
I can’t help but wonder if today will be remembered in the same way as JFK’s final moments. My guess is that it won’t. I hope I’m wrong.
What happened is a horrific reminder of how difficult it is to create a peaceful, free society. Democracy is still very much an experiment. Today, we – the American people – stumbled on that long road.
We are at fault for creating the toxic political environment that fully dehumanizes those with different politics. Both sides are guilty. We need to come back from the brink.
Perhaps this will serve as a wake up call. I just wish bullets weren’t required for us to get the message.
The County Sheriff working on the case, Clarence Dupnik, seems to agree:
When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. And that’s the sad thing of what’s going on in America. Pretty soon, we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.
They are also looking for a second suspect.
As usual, President Obama put it better than I ever could during his speech in Tuscon.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.