Sunday, March 27, 2005

Red Lake Devastation

Also lost in the Terri Schiavo shuffle this week was the Red Lake shooting. In Minnesota this week, 16-year-old Jeff Weise shot to death his grandfather and his grandfather's girlfriend, then went to his high school at the Red Lake Indian reservation and killed nine others before turning the gun on himself. This was just as bad, if not worse than, the Columbine school shootings, but, as the DNC: Kicking Ass blog points out, the real question is why President Bush has said nothing. When the Columbine shooting occurred, President Clinton was quick to respond, releasing a statement in which he and First Lady Hillary Clinton said they were "profoundly shocked and saddened". Even presidential hopefuls, including soon-to-be President George W. Bush, jumped on the bandwagon to offer their condolences. (Humourous tangent: click the link and see an amusing Bushism -- "I wish we could legislate love"...!) And yet, on the days after the March 22, 2005 school shooting which claimed ten lives, including the shooter, and wounding 13 others, the White House was strangely silent. What could be the possible differences? The truth is that Red Lake is simply not of any political importance. The victims were American Indians, and Bush, already disinclined to touch any issue that might lead him to have to come down for or against gun control, gains nothing from coming out in support of American Indian families. After all, American Indians have been historically ignored and disenfranchised in America, and this incident is no exception. If Bush says something, he might gain the favour of some American Indians, but might piss off the NRA. Meanwhile, if he says nothing, the NRA will be happy and the only people who might be mad is a community that consists of a little less than 1% of America. Politically, it doesn't make sense. And that's the real tragedy. When did human lives become part of some sick political game? First, conservative pro-lifers run roughshod all over Terri Schiavo, turning her right-to-die into a headline story for over a week, and now just when there are ten families in Red Lake wanting to know how future school shootings can be prevented, President Bush sees no political benefit in speaking out. When did it stop being about doing the right thing and start being about getting as many votes for the party as possible? For once, couldn't the Washington politicos put aside their partisan bickering and spend five minutes turning the spotlight to the ten people who lost their lives in what, according to precedence, should be enough of a tragedy to warrant presidential attention. Meanwhile, conservative pundits like Michelle Malkin are quick to rebut, and yet, she stays mum on speculating as to why Bush himself is silent, instead choosing to spend her time trying to accuse others of playing the race card. Another conservative blogger, James Joyner, originally quoted by Malkin, actually makes my point for me:

Do we really expect the president to express his condolences to every murder victim in the country, or to mention every serious crime that takes place? What exactly is he supposed to say here? Columbine fit into Bill Clinton's gun control agenda as Terri Schiavo fit into Bush's "sanctity of life" agenda. What public policy position do these murders relate to? (emphasis added)

Contrary to Joyner's point, this isn't just another murder in his country, this is a devastating tragedy that is representative of incidents that can and do occur in high schools around the world. This incident was as relevant to the nation as Columbine, and we saw no small outpouring of grief from around America when Columbine occurred -- in other words, Columbine did more than stir up the gun control activists, everyone around the country were as shocked and saddened by Columbine as they should've been by Red Lake. The conservatives seem so desperate to continue their hyper-sensitive defense of the President, that they jump, almost instictively, to try and justify his actions, when it seems even they know there's no good reason why Bush hasn't said anything.

However, it shouldn't be my job to point this out. For their part, the Democrats haven't said anything either.

When Bush was first campaigning, I remember a person on my forums remarking that, when hurricanes devastated Florida, President Bush showed up in her hometown and hugged a little white girl to comfort her and let her know everything would be alright. Where's that comfort Bush is so known for, when the victims aren't white?


Blogger Karlos said...

Hadn't heard about this yet. Fuck CNN; I'm coming to reappropriate for the news ;-)

Were politics ever "about doing the right thing" and not "about getting as many votes for the party as possible," though?

3/28/2005 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

hahaha, dude... you're from Minnesota even! Didn't this friggin' happen in your back yard?

and I'm late too. the shooting happened on the 22nd, I've just been too busy to write about it.

Here's a reappropriate breaking news freebie: the Syracuse chief of police was arrested last night for DWI. There... bet THAT'S something you didn't know...

3/28/2005 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Karlos said...

I know, I know; I don't pay attention to current events enough. It's probably all over the papers and the local news broadcasts back home, but I like the way you deliver the news better, anyway (with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek, and no street interviews with the "common man" - I swear, Minnesota news broadcasts are like "Jay Walking" without the self-awareness).

3/28/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

One of the main things I have noticed about this case is the lack of outrage and shock.I get a feeling that school shootings have happened so much in the last 10 years, that people are no longer as shocked as before.It's as if the public is getting more use to it or even expecting it.When people start feeling like that, you know we have big problems.

3/28/2005 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

philly, yeah, I'm worried that America might be desensitized. How do you get desensitized to kids going into schools and shooting each other? I mean, really...

3/28/2005 05:24:00 PM  

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