It's too soon in Tucson
By Michael McGehee at Jan 13, 2011
"Poetic justice," some Muslims might say in response to Palin's crying foul. No doubt Muslims who have been unfairly blamed and generalized for decades can give the American Right some insight in how to cope with it.
Edward Said, one of the most eloquent advocates for Palestinian rights and critic of Zionism and American Imperialism, wrote in an updated introduction to Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World about how Muslims are one of the few remaining social groups that it is okay to be prejudiced towards in America. The bigoted generalizations about Arabs and Muslims would not fly if they were similarly applied to Jews or blacks. It is socially acceptable to equate Muslims, who comprise of over one billion people from dozens of countries with a rich and diverse variation of cultural traditions, with nineteen extremists, mostly from Saudi Arabia. This was at the heart of the issue of so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan. The bigoted outcry was that a mosque near Ground Zero was offensive, simply because they were Muslim and the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks were Muslim (meanwhile Saudi Arabia received without protest hundreds of billions of dollars in arms sales). Hardly anyone pointed out that a church is across the street from the memorial for the Oklahoma City Bombing where a Christian killed hundreds of people. Or how about all the Christians who have attacked abortion clinics? White Christians have committed more acts of political violence in this country than Muslims yet white Christians aren’t singled out.
Palin has offered some empty platitudes on violence, saying it’s wrong but she has yet to apologize or make amends for her own rhetoric that is peppered with violence. Last year she tweeted to her followers not to “retreat” but to “RELOAD!” Her map showing twenty Democrats who made headway in Republican territory and calling for taking it back had gun sights on the locations with the names listed below. The recently shot Congresswoman Giffords as everyone knows by now was one of the names.
Did Jared Loughner, the shooter, see that map? Did it play a part in why he carried out the shooting?
We honestly don’t know. So in that sense Palin and some on the right are right to say they are unfairly being blamed.
It’s too soon to tell why what happened in Tucson happened but it’s not too soon to address our history of violence and to begin doing something about it. Back in the 1960s, the Chicago Museum of Science set up a diorama of a Vietnamese village in which American children could be on the outside with guns and shoot into the village and try to kill people. The event caused Noam Chomsky to say, "One has to ask whether what the United States needs is dissent or denazification."
Well, which is it?