“Politicize” Me!

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

In the holiday weekend following the touchdown of a massive tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, Senator Jim Inhofe stepped aside from his family picnic for a short while to give an interview in which he asserted, “The liberal media is trying to exploit a tragedy to advance and expand its own agenda. And, believe me, the victims all know this.” The agenda Inhofe was referring to is climate change action, and he used all too familiar language to stonewall calls to seriously weigh potential factors that may have precipitated the four-day tornado outbreak in the American heartland.

I grow weary of this rhetoric. It’s exactly the kind of language that prevented commonsense gun reform after horrific massacres in Tulsa, Aurora, and Newtown. To use an example my more conservatively inclined friends might appreciate, it is the kind of language that could serve to shut down calls for a further look at the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi incident. Opponents of reform on just about every front have succeeded in making “politicizing” tragedy a mortal sin in American political discourse.

But there’s a glaring hypocrisy that such staunch opponents of reforms get away with every time. Take a look at the members of congress who plug their ears every time someone suggests that gun violence may warrant a serious discussion of gun law. Just how many of them accused the last administration of politicizing tragedy when the Bush Doctrine diverted us from bringing the terrorists behind 9/11 to justice and led us into war in Iraq? At what point did a Republican congressional leader (or a congressional leader, period) say, “The Bush administration is trying to exploit a tragedy to advance and expand its own agenda?” Ron Paul, bless his heart, hardly counts.

I didn’t want to have to do this, but since the public has largely accepted this notion that it is inhumane and unforgivable to have a serious discussion about factors that lead to tragedy, I have to issue the following as a kind of proto-last-will-and-testament:

If I am to perish under tragic circumstances of any kind, for the love of God, exploit the hell out of me. Ask questions, engage in public discourse, and put policy forward. Do whatever you can to understand the factors that lead to tragedy, and address them! Do whatever you can to prevent the same tragedy from occurring twice. Oh, and find the Friarside Chats admin codes and give them to Nick Wallace. I think they’re written down in my sock drawer.

I don’t foresee tragedy coming my way, but semi-automatic weapons are still easier to buy than my allergy medicine, and the weather’s getting stranger. I guess I can sleep a little easier now.

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2 thoughts on ““Politicize” Me!

  1. To be fair, I can easily name six stores within a three mile radius where I can buy cold/allergy medicine (which does require a photo ID, as does purchasing certain brands of spray paint), yet I’m drawing a blank as to the nearest location of Guns-R-Us location.

    This begs the question–what the heck are you taking for allergy meds? :-p

  2. I do see some of what Inhofe is saying though. It’s one thing when you’re talking about gun control where we’ve recently seen mass murders with modern firearms that are acquired legally (for the most part). In that case discussion is generally agreed to be necessary by everyone to try to prevent such tragedy. But tornados have been part of life in the Midwest for centuries, and a discussion about global warming and climate change wouldn’t have prevented this one or another like it from happening. In this case it just seems a bit too soon to bring the politicians in and start debating climate change while most people there are just trying to get their lives back together.

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