This weekend, as I’m sure most of you know, a deranged gunman shot and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords this weekend at a supermarket she was doing a meet-and-greet at, then started randomly firing into the crowd, wounding something like twenty people, and killing six, including a nine-year old, a judge, and a Congressional aide (that last death was relayed to me by a visibly shaken Congressional aide, who works events like that frequently, which brought it home all the more).
What I feared would happen is beginning to: this tragedy is being exploited for cheap political points, despite every indication that the gunman’s belief system was inimical to both political parties’. The gunman, one Jared Lee Loughner, is pretty obviously insane: his Youtube account is full of meaningless syllogisms, and he listed Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto as two of his favorite books. He used the account to complained about money not being on the gold standard, Bibles being distributed to soldiers, “mind control” and grammar, and listed as his favorite video one of the American flag being burnt. Yet somehow, folks on the Left are seeking to pin the murders caused by this violent, Communist-sympathizing, pro-flag burning, anti-Bible nutjob on … Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. The Wall Street Journal published a quite damning response to this exploitation, which is well worth the read.
But if you want to avoid those who would basely exploit this tragedy for political ends, perhaps I can redirect you to something more inspiring. How about this short bio of Daniel Hernandez, the Congressional aide who rushed in and saved Rep. Giffords’ life (best quote: “It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots. But people needed help.”). Hopefully, we’ll be hearing more of Hernandez in the days and weeks to come.
Or another story, arising from a seemingly unrelated tragedy in Pakistan. A woman named Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death for being Christian. Her Muslim neighbors attacked Christianity, and she stood up for the Faith; this, to them, constituted “blasphemy” against Islam, so she was sentenced to death. The governor of Punjab, a Muslim liberal named Salmaan Taseer, spoke out against this. For standing up for Asia Babi, Taseer was himself murdered – by his own bodyguard. As a state of total fear has gripped, virtually no one has had the guts to even condemn this cold-blooded murder, and massive rallies have been staged in honor of Taseer’s assassin: even the supposedly “mainstream” Islamic party in Pakistan has spoken out in strong support of the murder. Yet in the midst of all this turmoil Pakistan finds itself in, Taseer’s family has spoken out — to offer their sympathy to Congresswoman Giffords. It’s inspiring to see this family rise above their own anguish (both from the assassination, and the silence of their country in condemning it) to comfort the grieving on the other side of the planet, and use their suffering to bring about good.
Prayers for the souls of the dead, for the relief of the dying, for the conversion of the gunmen and those who supportthe Muslims of Pakistan, and in thanksgiving for those like Hernandez and the Tassers.
Update: A special Mass will be said by Bishop Kicanas tomorrow for the victims.
Update 2: Matt Bowman, a former law clerk of Judge Roll (the federal district judge who was murdered), has a moving post remembering him as a humble Catholic and a Knight of Columbus.