Tucson Tragedy

Peter Evans | January 10, 2011 | Peter and Helen Evans: On Politics and Prayer

Everybody has something to say about the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, where a 22-year-old man killed six people and wounded at least twice as many more at a political event on Saturday. Among those he killed are a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. Among the (critically) injured is the Congressional representative for the district where the shooting took place. Because so little is known about the shooter, and because he is not “cooperating” with police, much of the commentary is devoted to speculation about his motivation for doing the deed.

But, what can we conclude from this? Logically, nothing ‘follows’ from these observations. Andrew Klavan put it well at City Journal when speaking of the shooter, “By all appearances, his mind was ruined by madness and his soul by evil.” Yet many are saying that he was ‘motivated’ or ‘inspired’ or ‘triggered’ by one or another political figure or movement in the culture. Basically, they are indirectly blaming their own political enemies or cultural opponents for this tragedy. This is the effect of the “therapeutic” culture that is so influential in American society. According to this system of belief, nothing is anyone’s fault; a person’s behavior is always “because of” something else.

Christians accept responsibility for their own actions, and believe that others are accountable for their actions. We acknowledge that this is a fallen world and filled with temptations that would lead us into “doing things that we shouldn’t do.” (Christian shorthand: “sin”) The “therapeutics” would use government power to remove or outlaw temptations (guns, freedom of speech and movement), but Christians work to strengthen our character so that we can resist the temptations that will constantly beset us all. You can’t outlaw human nature, but you can exercise self control.

What can we do? Pray. Pray. Pray some more. For the victims and their families and for the tormented soul who pulled that trigger 30 times.


  1. Geo Michalopulos :

    Peter and Helen, what this shows me is the intellectual paucity of the Left. To somehow blame Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck or whoever, is beyond bizarre, it’s stupid. By all accounts, Giffords was a conservatish “blue dog” Democrat (and former Republican). She was definately one of the good guys.. Regardless of her political leanings, we should pray for her and her family.

  2. The best summary of this shameless response by the left to this tragedy was written by Glenn Reynolds in The Wall Street Journal:
    “If you’re using this event to criticize the “rhetoric” of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you’re either: (a) asserting a connection between the “rhetoric” and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you’re not, in which case you’re just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?”

    The facts that are coming out so far indicate that the insane, radical atheist from Arizona was NOT a conservative, did NOT like Glenn Beck, and his ideology had NOTHING to do with the Republican political discourse in America or Sarah Palin’s views. Linking these issues together to score political points and use this tragedy to advanced a preconceived agenda is a window into the delusion and dysfunction of the left. It also shows that they are desperate! As always they will say or do anything to justify their hatred of conservative ideals and leading figures, all the while attacking free speech and blaming America and our “excessive liberties.” They really are totalitarians at heart, just like the communists.

  3. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    The left over-reached George. They seriously miscalculated the blow-back for politicizing this tragedy. For decades they presumed to occupy the moral high ground despite the disastrous real world consequences of their ideas, but are finding it doesn’t work anymore. I sense a lot of desperation in the latest ploy. I think they simply don’t know what to do with their increasing irrelevance. Society is changing.

  4. We should not be surprised that those on the left lie and twist facts so easily and use every opportunity to defame their opponents. This is the typical responses we have seen from the left when “arguing” with conservatives or anyone else that disagrees with their world-view. When they can’t argue objectively, rationally, and morally, they just exaggerate, obfuscate, lie, defame, and attack the messengers; always questioning the “motives” of the speaker and ultimately demanding that anyone who disagrees with them shut up, be denied their right to speak publicly, be fired, or imprisoned.

    After all, these are the same individuals who believe that killing an unborn child in the mother’s womb is representative of an inviolate “right to privacy” and the culmination of a society’s “progressiveness” and “enlightenment.” If you can delude yourself into believing this, you will make yourself believe anything. Worse still, if this is the attitude shown towards the most innocent and defenseless human beings in a culture, these same individuals will have little moral impediments of doing whatever they please with their political and ideological opponents’ property rights, free speech guarantees, political freedoms, right of self-defense, or any other Constitutional rights, and even their lives. And this is precisely what we have seen from many of the more radical elements of the leftist elite when responding to conservatives:

    Alec Baldwin – Stone Henry Hyde to Death
    During his appearance on the comedy late night show Late Night with Conan O’Brien on December 12, 1998, eight days before President Bill Clinton was to be impeached, Baldwin said, “if we were in another country… we would… stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and kill their wives and their children. We would kill their families, for what they’re doing to this country.”

    Bill Maher – Kill [Bush] with One stone
    John Kerry as he was being interviewed by Bill Maher in October of 2006 on the HBO show Real Time. Starting at about one minute into the clip Kerry says what can only be interpreted as a threat to kill Bush:

    Maher: You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.
    Kerry: Or, I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone .

    Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams – I could kill George Bush
    On July 11, 2007, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams gave the keynote speech to the International Women’s Peace Conference in Dallas, Texas, and said (to laughter and applause from the audience):

    “I mean right now, I could kill George Bush , no problem. No, I don’t mean that. I mean — how could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that .”

    Craig Kilborn – Snipers Wanted for George Bush Acceptance Speech
    On August 4, 2000, when Bush won the Republican nomination (but before he was president), Craig Kilborn on CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn ran a graphic of the words “ SNIPERS WANTED ” under George Bush as he gave his acceptance speech.

    From: http://www.binscorner.com/pages/d/death-threats-against-bush-at-protests-i.html

    On her blog Michelle Malkin compiled a comprehensive and rather poignant list of the countless shameful and hateful attacks by the left on conservatives. They are indicative of the type of people were dealing with and the kinds of insane things they will say or do in furtherance of their twisted agenda:

    The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010

    • Chris, no one sees themselves as ‘lying and twisting’ and so on. I lost a longer post which is all the time I have today. Just consider that those who do as you say bring to ‘the discussion’ the same attitude as one side of a sports team, one side of a legal case, one side in a military conflict. Their project is mostly about ‘winning’ with an eye to being ‘more secure’ personally or in a group. To the extent they sense greater threat to personal/group security/status/esteem they give themselves permission to suspend more and more of ‘the nicities and social graces’. If the referee or the judge or the ‘war crimes’ fact finders miss something that helps ‘our side’ then that’s winning ugly but they’ll still take the point. The struggling swimmer ‘wins’ by standing on the rescuers head — for a little while.

      Consider by extreme contrast the happy scientist or experimenter who in debate with others finds in experiment something unexpected, something new, something that upsets the apple cart of established explainations and theories about how things are. Understanding advances in the contest of spirited challenge and attention to detail. Here due to care there is no loss, the only question left for the project is the extent of the win.

      I think when entering into a debate if there is too much personal fear driving the equation for the activity to be a spirited discussion looking for the truth, then working to manage and address the fear is the more worthwhile activity. Only if the fear is addressed can the zero sum game transition to the possibility of the win-win.

      From our Christian perspective if ever we engage where the ‘contest’ nature trumps the ‘discernment of what’s true’ we must understand ourselves as being in the humble position of having lost to some degree from the beginning, and that in contest the only permissible long term goals are protective and defensive, even if allowing for much sharper elbows in the short run.

      We see here on these boards the suggestion by Scott Pennington that when the threat is so great it is permissible that the project of defense and protection requires ‘them’ to become ‘other’ and enter the realm of contest, inflict ‘an arm for a tooth’ manner of reprisal owing to the limitations in understanding sensed in ‘the other side’. Here we see what happens when fears are recognized as survival issues. If he’s right, who can argue? The human project then devolves and the only question left is who loses more. If there is no other way, be ready for a time when we might be called to defend how hard we really looked before ‘nuking them till they glowed’. Even under pressure we have to discern more stops as the train pulls out of station white and drives headlong toward station black.

      Human progress requires to understand and address the fear if possible when the sense is that the discussion has become about winning and not about mutual discernment.

      • Harry, you are right, it is about bearing witness to the truth and letting the chips fall where they may (with the notable exception that when innocence is threatened and good men have the ability to help, they must do whatever is necessary to prevent evil from doing spiritual or physical harm).

        The insight that I’ve gained over the years is that you cannot rationally debate or engage radicals who will say or do anything to “win” their ideologically-based arguments and who have no moral foundation to guide their character and reasoning. They are not interested in discernment, discussions, and truth. They are not open to being persuaded by the facts or willing to admit even a slight change in their biases and prejudices. They truly have become a living caricature of the “religious fanatics” they blame many of the Christians of being. Their Marxism and leftism/progressivism is their religion; sometime over-riding their Christian faith. No argument, no data, no historical precedents, no self-evident truths will make them shift even one millimeter from the secular, leftist, and neo-pagan dogmas they’ve embraced.

        The older I get, the less I’m interested in the “polemics” and debating aspect, and more certain that we’re called to speak the truth and speak it boldly and often. “People need to be reminded much more often than they need to be instructed.” We’re here to be faithful witnesses and servants. Only God can change their hearts and minds.

        • Chris, as I too gain salt and lose the pepper during the haircuts– when I hear a radical what I see at the bottom motivating the person projectnig a radical activity is a serious fear they have. Call it a ‘concern’ or ‘hope for better tomorrow (sotto voce because today sucks rocks)’ — whatever it takes to sell it to themselves.

          There is something to be gained in understanding what that’s about. Why does the person retain a fear? Is it justified? Did they come by it in an understandable way? Is their radical activity an attempt to make some sense out of a senseless or nameless fear? Fearful peeple, including myself (let’s be real, we all strive for courages to manage fears great and small), seeks if not an answer then at least hope. Having fear creates vulnerabilities and those amplify the fears, there is exploitation possible there– making it harder to listen to new or unexpected ways that deal with the motivationing fear/concern.

          Sometimes I think many are radical in the same way a bandaid ‘heals’ a cut, or giving a bunch of symptoms a name pretends to understanding the cause. There’s a grain of truth clung to and so justifying all manner of, as my son puts it : ‘whatnot’.

          Anyhow I’ve now pitched the straightest ball right down the middle and over the plate Fr. Hans is likely to get this week.

      • Scott Pennington :

        “We see here on these boards the suggestion by Scott Pennington that when the threat is so great it is permissible that the project of defense and protection requires ‘them’ to become ‘other’ and enter the realm of contest, inflict ‘an arm for a tooth’ manner of reprisal owing to the limitations in understanding sensed in ‘the other side’. Here we see what happens when fears are recognized as survival issues.”

        I have made only two really major observations about violence on AOI. One was that under a very unlikely circumstance that the only Christians left found themselves in the same situation as the Hebrews vis a vis Amalek, they would be justified in some type of action similar to that which God Himself ordered ages ago.

        The second more recent observation was that we should consider attacking the military establishment of countries whose governments declare open season on Christians. It is not that I project a “limitation in understanding” upon the “other side”. Their own holy book and tradition commands warfare in all directions until the Earth is subdued for Islam and that all monotheistic non-Muslims should be second class citizens and open to maltreatment (non-monotheistic people would be forced to convert or executed). I’m not projecting that, it’s real.

        In short, regardless of some ill reasoned criticisms by Fr. Hans who accused me of giving license to declare this or that country the “Amalek du jour” and wipe them out, or Harry who thinks my appreciation of the impetus behind Islamic violence is some type of projection onto “the other”, I stand by what I’ve written.

        • Scott Pennington :

          I should mention the following as a PS to my above comment: I do not believe that all Muslims see their religion in the same way. Some are much more moderate in their appreciation of sharia. I know and interact with such Muslims and, though we may not agree on religion, we enjoy cordial relations and I dare say that there is a certain sense in which I feel closer to them than to “liberal Christians” or atheists. Faith does speak to faith. Nonetheless, I don’t believe I’m projecting the imperatives of fundamentalist Islam onto those perpetrating these types of attacks. Sin, combined with a sense of encouragement found in the dictates of classical sharia, causes these things.

  5. cynthia curran :

    Well, I think Scott is sometimes taken out of context. I really believe that Scott believes that approach is in some in ugly circumstances like the Moselm threat in Europe in the middle ages, as I mention some of Byzantine warfare while mainly defensive could be nasty like Greek fire was some sort of Naplam. Also, some historians while mentioning that Constantine was not a model christian was necessary christianity would not survive to the modern period. But as George note he did blame cruxfication.

  6. Sarah Palin stated that crimes “begin and end with the criminals who commit them”. Is this only true when we happen to inconveniently share the ideologies of the person committing the crime? After all, many were quick to find the entire Muslim population suspicious for the actions of a few on 9/11.

    Based on my reading, the shooter in Tucson was most likely mentally ill and needed no provoking into the act. There’s no discernible ideology behind his actions other than personal frustration and rage.

    For the sake of argument, though, let’s say there was. Let’s say he came out and admitted to being a firm supporter of the Tea Party (or Planned Parenthood, even). What then? I have read in blogs of those who hinted at military insurrections against our government because of their opposition to ____ (insert reason here). Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has claimed “it was Thomas Jefferson who said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing. What do you think?”

    Senate candidate Sharron Angle of Nevada took the Jefferson analogy one step further, telling conservative talk radio host Lars Larson, “In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years, I hope that’s not where we’re going. But, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.”

    Words have meaning, and they impact people’s actions.

    So unless we’re really, truly prepared to enter into another internal civil military conflict, is it unreasonable to suggest that both sides be more judicious in their choice of the words and rhetoric they use?

    • Scott Pennington :

      “So unless we’re really, truly prepared to enter into another internal civil military conflict, is it unreasonable to suggest that both sides be more judicious in their choice of the words and rhetoric they use?”

      Yes. Prior to this, there hadn’t been a major political assassination in this country in over 30 years. The truth is, nothing is out of hand (in a dangerous sense) regarding our political rhetoric and it is even somewhat tame compared to rhetoric used at certain other times earlier in US history. Some of the “reporting” on political conflict from the late 18th and early 19th century reads more like the National Enquirer than serious journalism. Politicians used to duel, you know.

      The whole thing – – all of it – – is nothing more and nothing less than an attempt by the liberal media to use this tragedy to tarnish the right. Even the equivocal calls to “tone things down”. It’s an implication that something is being done improperly which could “lead” to violence. People are responsible for their own actions and unless a politician makes an explicit call for violence, they are simply not responsible if violence occurs – – even if the perpetrator says they were inspired by heated rhetoric. Another name for heated rhetoric is “free speech”. Because the free speech of one party succeeded in defeating the other party in a number of elections in 2010, the losing party has raised the specter of this hobgoblin of poisoned discourse. It’s a tactic. We shouldn’t let it succeed and, given the polling data, it most likely will not.

      It’s actually making many liberals look really bad in the eyes of most all Republicans and many, many Independents. It’s not selling at all in the “flyover states”.

      During Bush II’s presidency, liberals made a movie depicting his assassination (fantasizing about it, really). Now it’s time to tone things down? No, I don’t think I’m cynical for seeing a connection with the 2010 elections.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Rob, your analogy about the “entire Muslim population,” is true only to a point. Here is where it falls apart however: nobody accused Muslims residents of perpetrating and/or inciting the atrocities of 9/11. However, the fact that certain Muslim groups have aided and abetted the growth of terror cells is a proven fact. This happened during the years leading up to WWII in which certain German-Americans organized the German-American Bund and provided aid and comfort to German saboteurs. One of the six Nazi saboteurs that were caught in the early years of the WWII and executed by the federal government was a German-American. Ditto with the Japanese. One pilot that carried the attack on Pearl Harbor had to bail out of his plane and was harbored by Japanese-Americans on Oahu. Hence the nativist hysteria that attend wars. Unfortunate but understandable.

  7. Brothers and Sisters:

    I don’t understand why everyone on this thread and the related thread is so upset about the neo-Marxisits, “Progressive” media, pundits and politicians. What else did you expect? George called it stupid. I have another name for it (to be revealed at the end of this post).

    Let us first remember what their “Holy Father, Creator and Giver of Life” said: ‘Remember that God ordained that I should be the next President of the United States. Neither you nor any other mortal or mortals could have prevented this!” (Woodrow Wilson).

    Many have invoked the name of God in their arrogance. I’m reminded that some in the Old Testament worshiped Baal of Zebub as a god. I think he was a favorite of Jezebel (rough transliteration into English with some poetic license: Pelosi?) whose arrogance was beyond measure.

    So, the neo-Marxist, “Progressive” media, pundits and politicians venerate (worship, maybe better) Woodrow Wilson. Only Baal of Zebub would take Woodrow Wilson seriously enough to empower him to be the President. Baal of Zebub is their god and Wilson is his prophet.

    Radical Islam and Radical Progressivism: are they intellectually related? Ask the prophet.

    The secret name, George, is arrogance; their unabashed arrogance. The righteous can do no wrong. If I recall my Genesis correctly, isn’t that what Adam and Eve thought?

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Nick, this is the same arrogance that Lenin had. “Who, whom?” Lenin’s philosophical disciple, Saul Alinsky, once berated a namby-pamby intellectual who said that the purpose of the revolution was to help the people. Alinsky screamed at him: “IT’S ABOUT POWER! NOTHING ELSE!”

  8. So unless we’re really, truly prepared to enter into another internal civil military conflict, is it unreasonable to suggest that both sides be more judicious in their choice of the words and rhetoric they use?

    Obviously Rob, you do not appreciate how much the far left is pregnant with evil and how far they will go, if left unchecked, to control our minds and bodies. Silence is no option and moderation in the face of evil is no virtue. Ask all the Germans in the 30s and 40s who took an innocuous little children’s prayer and turned it into their private adult prayer upon which they based their political action against the Evil One. It went something like this:

    Dear Lord God, keep me quiet, so that I don’t end up in Dachau.

    My understanding is that it almost even rhymes in German: “Lieber Herr Gott mach mich stumm / Daß ich nicht nach Dachau komm”.

    No — there is never rhyme or reason for moderate rhetoric is the face of Evil.



    Madalyn O’Hair and her American Atheist Association were the litigants in the famous case that removed Bible reading and prayer recitation from American public schools.

    This is their greatest and most destructive achievement. In removing Bible readings and prayer recitations from American schools they have succeeded in destroying an effective method of daily “conscience building” for young people, and a daily acknowledgement of a Supreme Being who watches over our every move and to Whom we have to answer for our every action.

    The consequences? Relativity in morals, rampant individualism, self-worshipping adolescents who, unfortunately, too often turn into self-worshipping adults; little or no conscience in kids with insufficient ethical home education; the infusion of atheistic/agnostic worldviews into adolescents’ minds by teachers who push their anti-religious views on their students, and an anti-God attitude in kids who are told, directly or indirectly, that they are the result of blind chance.

    The grand result? Psychopaths running rampant, an epidemic of depressed young people, about forty million cases of incurable STD’s, countless abortions, prisons overflowing with angry, merciless men and women, an ever-increasing number of female criminals — and a nightmarish future.

  10. Anybody remember the Discovery Channel Gunman who wrote a letter claiming to act of out fear of global warming and the book Ishmael? Convenient, nobody blames Al Gore for this incident.

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