Vigorous political debate and strong ideological postures have nothing to do with the meticulous plan of a delusional nut to kill an elected official.
Desires of supernatural powers can cause someone to become ‘a hero on their own mind’ and end up authoring a conspiracy; but heated political debate doesn’t. Labeling strong opinions across the political spectrum and blaming them for the insane attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is insane.
Oklahoma City, Ft. Hood, the shoe bomber, the Detroit airplane bomber, the Times Square bomber and, yes, the 9-11 attacks; were all acts of political terror, originated in a range of resentment against U.S. federal tactics and/or motivated by religious extremism. In Giffords case –a self described centrist Democrat-, we shouldn’t confuse political terrorism with the lunacy of a derailed drug-abuser.
In connection with this matter, the clear and in some cases cynical attempts to demonize both the right and the left are vile and even irresponsible, especially if we take into consideration that engaging in policy discussion is supposed to be one of the great privileges of a democratic system. All attempts of linking this disturbed killer to any political movement are ludicrous and the preamble to hamper free speech.
Yes, what happened in Arizona last weekend is a tragedy on a number of fronts. Six killed and 14 others wounded. The suspect, identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, who is now being held by the FBI, has a troubled past: he is a High School dropout, was kicked out of a community college and told he could not come back without a mental evaluation. He is also a rejected Army recruit and has a criminal record related to drug paraphernalia.
Without a doubt, the political rhetoric in the United States has increased across the board; inflammatory remarks have transcended discrete and confidential circles to form part of the public discourse. But in the current context of events, Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, Tea Party activists have all condemned this coward attack perpetrated in Arizona.
It is also important not to forget that this was the case of an individual obsessed with mind control, currency transformation and the U.S. Constitution, within other topics and that his position on these matters is so bizarre and his postings so incoherent that they could be equally attributed to either the right or the left -or partially to both philosophies. Among his favorite books are The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf.
But again, blaming Loughner’s actions on political discourse radicalization is as misleading as irresponsible. He shows severe signs of mental instability attributed at this point to paranoia and schizophrenia. And as far as we know, he’s not tied to a political movement, and this wasn’t a politically motivated act.
Nevertheless, within the entire political spectrum, it is a fact that there are extremists, both on the left and the right and it is always wise to call for a reduction in the heated rhetoric, for the sake of our political system in itself.
Regardless the motivations of Loughner, violence of this nature should be condemned by everyone, and not used for political gain. In the aftermath of all of this, three things are clear:
-First, existing gun laws that place barriers for those who are mentally unstable to gun ownership, must be strictly enforced.
-Second, all legislation currently scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives next week has been postponed but should resume as soon as possible so legislators can take the necessary actions to move forward in the wake of the tragedy and in absence of Congresswoman Giffords, and to ensure that Americans get back to work, tackling our deficit and our debt.
-Third, since our government relies on the idea that constituents can interact with their elected leaders, any restrictions for the sake of their ‘security’ will deter the right of the people’s voices being heard and would build walls in an open society where public officials –still- can assemble freely with the public.
Imminently, the wave of efforts to blame this attack on the nature of the national discourse, the political atmosphere in Arizona, will continue. But again, let’s please remember that there is more than one individual out there who is missing the right circuits in their brain, and that attributing any violent and brutal actions to any coherent political philosophy is a draw-out.