Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reflections on a Tragic Day

On January 8th, I was enjoying a wintery Saturday in our busy household, planning a grocery list, preparing to take my three kids sledding, and wondering if the Philadelphia Eagles would overcome their recent slump to triumph in the playoffs when I turned on the TV, and to my horror, I learn that a Congresswoman has just been assassinated. For at least 30 minutes the major networks, NPR, and the blogosphere reported that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had died.

I was horrified and saddened. I couldn't believe this could happen. Then, miracle ... we learned she was not dead, but in critical condition undergoing surgery. Sadly, however, news begins to trickle in that six others were killed, and many more are injured in this vicious mass shooting.

Intriguingly, now, looking back, I did not think twice about the fact that Giffords was involved in one of the races Governor Sarah Palin highlighted in her house challenger map. And I was one who spent six months gearing up for the midterms. I posted Palin's map on my blog, Conservatives4Congress. I displayed it prominently and my fellow bloggers and I tracked the status of those 20 races on election night, where 18 of the house challengers were victorious.

After election night, and after the incumbent Giffords was declared the winner in her razor-close race, that was the last I thought of that map, actually.

Frankly, at a time like this, Giffords' political affiliation didn't matter. I would have had the same response had she been Republican. A young American Congresswoman had been shot! And six others, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl had been killed in cold blood.

Which made it all the more gut-wrenching, when I get a strange Facebook comment that very day on my public wall from my ex-boss, Sean Bailey, who never contacts me on Facebook, much less posting something for my 2,700 friends to see. He is curious if I am finally satisfied, now that Palin's crosshairs and gun metaphors have achieved the Tea Party's purpose with Giffords' blood.


Was Sean Bailey honestly suggesting that a commonplace political map was responsible for a murderous rampage? Moreover, could Sean Bailey actually believe that the blame lay with the Tea Party, the most peaceful movement in American political history? I thought of the violent G-20 protesters with their arrests and vandalism, and compared it with the law-abiding rallies I'd attended for the Tea Party. But now my former boss and countless others in the liberal media are accusing us all of being accessories to murder?

I decided not to respond to Bailey because I knew that anyone with that kind of irrational mind would not listen to reason. The fact of the matter is that in the midst of a national tragedy, and after not speaking to me for nine months, Bailey decided to reach out to me, a former underling, and attempt to hurt me -- psychologically. The interesting question is why?

He knows I am active in the Tea Party movement. He knows I admire Governor Palin. We'd had pleasant email exchanges in the last six months. We'd talk about our kids, and concern for the health of a former co-worker, the kind of stuff that transcends politics. I'd even shared the fact I'd written a self-published book of satire about the media scrutiny of Sarah Palin, and that I had been quoted in national publications as a Palin supporter.

All was well between us, apparently, until a lunatic shooter who had stalked Giffords since 2007 goes off in Arizona... and somehow Sarah Palin, who wasn't even on the national scene until Sept. 2008 is "to blame" and Bailey decides to contact ME about his misplaced rage.

And yes, I admire Sarah Palin ... in the same way I can appreciate many people admire Barack Obama. I would never hold him accountable for the actions of a psycho killer, even though Obama himself has employed violent metaphors on many occasions. He recently urged an audience to "punish your enemies." He has compared Republicans to "hostage takers," and told supporters that if Republicans bring a knife to the fight, Democrats should "bring a gun." This is what you call "free speech" and aggressive campaign rhetoric, even if it violates Obama's mythical "new politics."

Political free speech does not cause violence. It helps us PREVENT violence by giving us an outlet to voice our frustration, and to inform and mobilize our right to vote. This was the case during the eight years of Bush hatred on the Left, when dissent was "patriotic" remember? And this is what Palin has been saying the last year, time and again denouncing ridiculous suggestions that she is calling for an armed revolution. She was calling for people to vote, and no one but the truly unhinged Palin haters believe otherwise, notwithstanding the fact she is a hunter and she is Christian, which somehow makes her the reincarnation of ... Pol Pot?

And so I decided to write this cathartic blog post ... Actually it was recommended to me by someone I respect greatly in the financial business who shares my Tea Party philosophy.

I will not be cowed by people who hate Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. I will not be silenced by those who hope to shame our movement. We have a vision for a constrained government in which the people are sovereign. I thought this quote summed it up well, what we're "fighting" for and will continue to "fight" for even when opposed by the metaphorically challenged.

You and I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon if I can. I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for the dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say: This I have done. All this is what it means to be American. (Dean Alfange, originally published in Reader’s Digest 10/52)

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