For years now, liberals have been trying to turn judicial activism back against conservatives. But no matter how many Citizens United or Bush v Gore decisions right-wing judges write, judicial activism only has glue on its left side; it won’t stick to the Right.
We shouldn’t politicize this tragedy is similarly one-sided. It is only said in two situations:
- To stop liberals from talking about gun control after a mass shooting.
- To stop liberals from talking about worker safety after a mine disaster, factory fire, or some other big industrial accident.
It never limits conservatives, who routinely score political points in the wake of tragedy without even a sense of hypocrisy. The possibility that don’t politicize tragedy could apply to them just doesn’t register.
I have two kids. Now I suddenly want to see an armed police officer in the school. I mean, I never even thought of that prior to now, but what would that take, to have an armed police officer in every school?
Kelly reaching for a more-guns solution is fine, but imagining fewer guns — as Bob Costas did two weeks before — politicizes tragedy.
In any other situation, major loss of life leads to action. The Patriot Act was signed six weeks after 9-11. I don’t recall anyone saying we shouldn’t politicize the tragedy. And as Chris Hayes observed Saturday,
If yesterday we had found out that the shooter’s name was Abdulmutallab and that he had been attending a mosque in Connecticut, everything about the response would be different.
One difference: No one would be shutting down the Islamophobes for politicizing the tragedy.*
The most predictably outrageous politicization of tragedy always comes from the Religious Right. Who can forget Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson blaming 9-11 on
the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America
Falwell is dead, but his blame-the-secularists game continues. Thursday, when a Fox News anchor suggested to Mike Huckabee that people might ask “How could God let this happen?”, Huckabee responded by denouncing separation of church and state:
We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability — that we’re not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.
So suggesting any limitation to Second Amendment rights politicizes the tragedy, but it’s fine for Huckabee to advocate against our First Amendment right to be free from an establishment of religion.
Huckabee was not alone. Bryan Fischer also started with “Where was God?”and went the same place with it:
Here’s the bottom line: God is not going to go where He’s not wanted. Now we have spent — since 1962, we’re 50 years into this now — we have spent 50 years telling God to get lost.
He then went through a litany First Amendment cases that limit Christian establishment before concluding:
We’ve kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us: “Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children, but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first.”
I’m sure the Amish parents of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania wonder how exactly they banished God from their schoolhouse before five of their daughters were gunned down in 2006. But apparently Fischer’s God** is subject to the same rule as vampires: Even if He wants to help, He’s stuck on the threshold until somebody invites Him in.
In short, liberals: Don’t be cowed by people who tell you not to politicize a mass shooting or a mine cave-in. The don’t-politicize rule applies only to you. Whenever conservatives can spin a tragedy to their advantage, they will, and the self-appointed umpires who criticize you now will be completely silent.
*The same people who blame Islam for any crime by a guy with a Arab name — they twisted themselves into pretzels denying Christianity’s responsibility for Anders Breivik’s mass murder of liberal children in Norway (even though Breivik styled himself as a defender of Christendom). “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder,” Bill O’Reilly declared.
If you would laugh at a Muslim who said that about believers in Allah, you should laugh at O’Reilly too.
**In some ways conservative Christians preachers are a special case, because their flocks do ask “Where was God?” and the ministers have no answer. The question points to a hole in their theology: If the Universe were governed by the God they describe (all-powerful, loving, good, and personally involved), these things would not happen. It’s that simple. It’s not a paradox or a mystery, it’s just a contradiction.
They can’t admit that, so they have to deflect blame onto someone else.