Don’t let hate win

Published 8:34 am Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daily Herald Editorial

The horror, shock, fear and consternation that naturally follow a tragedy like Saturday’s shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a meeting with constituents should not be allowed to further broaden the already great gap between America’s elected leaders and the people.

It is likely that no one will ever really understand what was in the mind of the man who it is alleged opened fire on Giffords and others, killing six — including a U.S. judge and a child — and wounding 14. The insanity, hatred or horrible combination of both that leads to such a crime is, almost by definition, beyond comprehension. What is certain is that the suspect’s actions, and his thought processes, are in no way representative of most Americans. Some commentators, seizing on the event as fodder for talk shows and blogs, have suggested the shootings were an outgrowth of decreasing civility in the nation. We disagree. The difference between name-calling and a shooting spree is as great as that between a shouting match and setting off a bomb. One bears almost no connection to the other.

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Nevertheless, some will take Saturday’s events as a sign that violence against elected officials is a daily concern, and their urge to “do something” will almost certainly drive a wedge of so-called security between elected officials and the public. In a land where most Americans have never even met their congressperson, and where most federal officials live and work much of the time in the bizarre world of the Washington Beltway, further separation will only lead to greater fear and frustration.

Saturday’s tragedy should never be forgotten. But neither should it be used as a reason to further insulate and isolate public officials from those they are supposed to work for and represent. If that happens, then hate will notch another win.