The terrible shootings in Colorado should make Americans think about how we handle our problems. It shocked us all when we awoke to Friday’s awful news of the theater murder rampage in Aurora. While details trickled in, I devoted most of Friday’s “Istook Live!” to this tragedy.
The victims, their families and loved ones remain in my thoughts and prayers. Many people, I know, are focused on them just as I am. As a news reporter and as a public official, I’ve been at the scene of many tragedies. From each senseless tragedy, we need to learn something.
Because details usually are slow to develop, speculation often is injected into the gap. That can launch never-ending conspiracy theories, as happened after the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. At the time I was Congressman for most of Oklahoma City, and I was aghast to see how those theories developed, despite the better information that we eventually learned.
But what’s worse is the instant political exploitation of tragedies, which begins even before all the victims are identified. It’s sick how some rush to make sure they don’t “let a crisis go to waste.” On Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg immediately used the theater killings to promote gun control. That was bad.
Yet the problem is not the weapon; it’s the person who pulls the trigger.
Each tragedy, however, is also an opportunity to learn.
One of our Friday guests, Congressman Louie Gohmert, is an individual who always speaks his mind. He described his concerns about the direction of our country and about the ongoing efforts to take God out of acceptable society. In general, I share concerns over efforts to suppress religious freedom and to disregard America’s religious heritage. Still, at this time we have no way to know whether the terrible murders in Aurora have any direct link to specific religious or anti-religious beliefs.
Many good people turn their thoughts to faith whenever a tragedy occurs, so it’s not surprising that Congressman Gohmert’s thoughts turned in that direction.
The Colorado killer somehow felt his problems or issues could not be resolved without violence. I see a parallel with today’s hyper-heated political rhetoric. We need blunt conversations to address our nation’s problems. But the unrelenting and deceitful negativity of this summer’s Presidential campaign goes too far; it seems aimed at political killing.
Another bad example of this trend is the awful rhetoric being aimed at the Boy Scouts for staying true with their beliefs and their traditions.
The theater shooter needed a better way to handle whatever are his problems. We need a better way to handle ours. Perhaps this event will spark some soul-searching about how we should handle our disagreements. Even in a Presidential race, it’s wrong to treat others as evil or hateful just because our politics or even our values are different. And political assassination is just as wrong.
Former Republican Congressman Ernest Istook hosts Istook Live! from The Heritage Foundation, Monday thru Friday 9 am to noon (Eastern). Streaming at www.istook.com
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