In the tragic Arizona shooting that has left six people dead\ — including a 9-year-old girl, and 14 people wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — there is only one person to blame: Jared Loughner.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people connected with the tragedy who deserve to be shamed for their rhetoric. And no, I’m not talking about Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck.
The pundits and columnists on the left have had a heyday, villifying everyone from Sarah Palin to Republicans to Obamacare opponents as the causes of the shooting rampage.
Probably the first big-name liberal to cast aspersions on the Right was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Just hours after the shooting occurred Krugman wrote that “violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”
Krugman’s attempt to tie Palin to the shooter, Jared Loughner, wasn’t the ugliest by an stretch, but it was one of the first from a prominent columnist.
And soon the publication that Krugman writes for, the New York Times, was jumping on the band wagon.
Back in 2008, following the Fort Hood shooting by Major Nidal Hassan, the Gray Lady warned that we should avoid attributing the shooting to Hassan’s Muslim faith until the investigation had been concluded, even though the facts were already mounting up that his faith propelled him to kill others.
Fast forward a little over a year.
The New York Times, while not being stupid enough to directly attribute Jared Loughner’s actions to Sarah Palin, said that “it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats.”
CNN, like the New York Times, cautioned viewers not to jump to conclusions after the Fort Hood shooting.
However, on the self-proclaimed most trusted news source in America, Wolf Blitzer and congressional reporter Jessica Yellin, instead of waiting until all the facts were in, repeatedly tried to tie Palin to the murders. At one point they did clarify that there wasn’t any “overt connection” between Loughner and Palin, but then they went back to blaming Palin.
Former Democratic senator from Nebraska, Bob Kerrey, seemed to bring some reason to the discussion by saying on the Fox Business channel that we shouldn’t make too much out of Loughner’s political beliefs. The only problem is that this statement came right after Kerrey said that the health care bill was “one of the reasons that this guy was angry.”
The most shameful response to the tragedy came from Clarence Dupnik, the investigating sheriff.
Dupnik blamed the shooting on “vitriolic rhetoric”, consequently being quoted by many liberals as evidence that Jared Loughner was a right-wing radical.
Dupnik later admitted that it was only his opinion that “vitriolic rhetoric” was to blame for the shooting. In other words, the sheriff was just trying to use his 15 minutes of fame to score a cheap political point.
While the reactionary-types were busy hogging the airwaves, attacking Palin and Republicans in general, there are at least a few people who did the right thing even at personal risk and are getting remarkably little credit for it.
Seventy-four-year-old Bill Badger, a retired Army Colonel, was at Congresswoman Giffords’ event when Loughner began firing. When the shooting started he tried to get out of the path of the bullets, but as he dropped to the ground a bullet grazed the side of his head.
When the firing stopped, Badger found that Loughner was close to him. Despite being wounded, he got up to take action. Another man hit Loughner with a metal chair, and Badger was able to grab Loughner’s arm. And together they forced him to the ground and held him there until police arrived.
Neither Badger nor the other, unidentified man have gotten much credit for their actions which likely saved lives.
Badger’s wife said she wasn’t surprised. “The only thing that would have surprised me is that if he would not have done this,” she said. “Bill is a man of action.”
This tragedy, and the response to it, shows that we need more men of action like Bill Badger and fewer men of words like these knee-jerk pundits.
(Elijah Friedeman, author of The Millennial Perspective, is the grandson of Janice Friedeman, Great Bend. His columns can also be heard on his father, Matt Friedeman’s, radio program on American Family Radio.)