WASHINGTON, June 21, 2015 — In 2009, blogger Billy Beck wrote, “You have always heard it here first: All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.” The reactions to the Charleston shooting confirm those chilling words.
Before the bodies were removed from the scene, political pundits were out in force to score political points. They took their lead from the president of the United States himself. In his remarks the day after, President Obama pushed for tighter gun control laws. Salon declared, “white America must answer for the shooting.”
The idiocy was not confined to the political left. “Fox and Friends” tried to portray the shooting as an attack on Christians, not as the racially motivated attack that it obviously was.
Presidential candidate Rick Santorum also pushed that moronic line of thinking.
There were some comments from conservatives that bordered on victim-blaming. Representatives from gun rights organizations blamed the pastor, South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pickney, for the shooting because of his support for gun control and his refusal to allow concealed carry holders to carry in his church.
This is as appropriate as criticizing a rape victim for the clothes she was wearing while she was raped.
If you thought time would cool down the overheated rhetoric, you would be wrong. Salon continues to blame “white America” for the shooting. Mic, a website for writers who aren’t good enough for Salon, defended the politicization of the attacks.
Rolling Stone, the magazine that made up a rape story and refused to punish the fabulists involved, blamed the Republican Party.
After the murders of nine people by an evil man, there are many things we need to discuss as a nation. We need to discuss racism, domestic terrorism, gun laws, mental illness and even the nature of man. There need to be discussions about our nation’s racial history and the current treatment of African-Americans.
However, we cannot have productive discussions when politicians and pundits are positioning themselves to exploit the situation. We cannot have a serious “national conversation” on any of these complex issues when the political media and our leaders are too busy trying to win an election or discredit their ideological opponents. This political culture of dehumanizing our opponents needs to stop.
If we’re to move forward as a nation and address these problems, we need to listen to each other. Instead of demonizing those we disagree with, let’s try to understand each other. Not everyone who flies the Confederate flag is a racist, but there is no dispute that the Confederacy was born of the attempt to preserve slavery and white supremacism.
You can disagree with the left’s solutions to this shooting and not be a racist. Likewise, you can support more gun control and a focus on domestic terrorism and not be pro-tyranny or anti-American.
Instead of using this tragedy to divide our nation further, we should use the moment to heal and come together as a country. Let’s come together, discuss how we can prevent more attacks like this instead of engaging in the overheated rhetoric that plants the seeds for another one. Most important, let’s get away from using politics as war by other means and start focusing on what is best for our nation, not our side.