Last night at the memorial service for the victims of the Arizona shooting, President Obama gave the speech we all needed. When I think of the leader I want for my country, the words eloquent, intelligent, calm, and inclusive come to mind. Last night, Obama was all of those things and more.
But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.
His leadership might seem shaky at times, his backbone sometimes missing. But one cannot question his moral compass, which is why it pains me to completely disobey him.
But I am going to anyway. His message of unity stood in such stark contrast to the one given by the woman who may be his political opponent in the 2012 election. So stark, in fact, that I would be remiss in not mentioning it. Even if it does make me a hater.
It's hard to imagine a more narcissistic, offensive response than the one Sarah Palin gave to the accusations against her in her video yesterday. Not only did she refuse to offer anything resembling an apology, but she also further offended by accusing liberal commentators of "blood libel" -- a term with reverberations of pain for Jewish people.
As Jonathan Martin posted on Politico:
At sunrise in the east on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest—or capacity—in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics. And at sundown in the west, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation.
Six people lost their lives and last night, Obama told me he wants to make peace out of that, while Palin told me she wants to make war. It may seem like contrasting the two statements is only further alienating us, but actually, it's important. Because their responses are revealing.
When we are in a time of crisis, I want the calm, intelligent person running the show. The one who will do everything it takes to fix what is broken, not the one who wants to tell us "side with me or die." No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, we all should agree on the fact that respectful discourse has flown the coop the day violent metaphors are used.
Further, Palin only proved her point. In a statement where she tried to tell us that words (and crosshairs on a map) don't hurt us, she conjured up the very words that are partially responsible for countless killing sprees of Jewish people throughout Europe leading up to the Holocaust. So, yes. Words hurt. They hurt a lot.
I am sorry dear President. I love you and your message of unity, but I don't think it's possible as long as Sarah Palin is in a position where people actually listen. And if, god forbid, she should ever become president, it's important to point out these truths.
What did you think of Obama's speech?
Image via YouTube