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Politicizing tragedy adds insult to injury

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By Sid Schwab
What is there to say about the latest American mass murder? It's all been said, and will be again, and nothing will change. I'm glad our president is addressing it, but I'm not optimistic. If there was a time for sensible gun legislation, it was the day after the first weapon was invented after the musket. Now, America is armed to its dentures, and guns don't wear out; assault weapons and clips big as your arm are everywhere, no matter how much some, including me, may wish otherwise.
NRA president Wayne LaPierre and Tea Party congressfolk like Louis Gohmert want every citizen to be packing. Really? Think about the fact that when 19 innocents were hurt in that police standoff in NYC, all of them were shot by police, among the most trained gun handlers we have. Consider the result if, in that theater in Colorado, a bunch of people had stood up in the dark and started firing. Ask yourself how long a third grade teacher with a handgun would hold out against a madman with an assault rifle, wearing body armor. Arm everyone? I'd call that an admission that America is lost forever.
Prevention. Mental health care. How many times have we heard that killers had already been in therapy of some sort? We have no reliable methods for in-advance identification, let alone treatment, of killers. Maybe someday we'll scan every brain at birth, turn a dial, and make them right. But not now. Medication might help some, but who'll see that they take it? In Everett, we're finally getting around to planning to provide inpatient mental health care. I don't doubt it's needed, and that it'll be a godsend for many; but for people like the man in Connecticut, unless it'd be a permanent, preemptive (and, therefore, illegal) lockup, no dice.
No, in my view we're sliding down the slope ever faster, with no brakes to apply. Which is not to say we should give in and give up. Let's try gun control. Again. Let's get cops and metal detectors and better security (and fund them!) in every school. And let's address (and fund!) mental-health care. It can't hurt.
But there's one thing I need to say, and I'm just stupid enough to do it: Deserving only one circle of Hell higher than the Connecticut killer himself is Mike Huckabee (and, a few days later, Newt Gingrich), who said, after the murder of those 20 beautiful children, that it happened because we've "systematically" removed God from our schools. What horrible theology.
Think about it: According to the former governor and would-be president, God caused the attack to happen. (Because, when you're all-powerful, causing is no different from allowing. I assume he doesn't believe God is powerless.) Me, I'd rather believe in a loving and compassionate God, one who's like the best parents in the world, many of whom are now facing inconsolable grief, while Mr. Huckabee informs us of God's workings.
When unimaginable tragedies strike, people naturally ask where God is. It's been a question as long as there's been sentience, and people must seek and find their own answers. But what kind of answer is Mr. Huckabee's? And what sort of person could get comfort, or pleasure, from it? (In fairness to the rock and roll governor, other leaders, James Dobson for one, have chimed in even more unambiguously: shooting those innocent babies was the direct judgment of God.)
I abhor it. And I'd hope God would, too. It's hard enough to maintain belief in the face of such occurrences, to pray for His help for the families when He seems to have left it outside the door of that school; but Mike Huckabee's way ought to offend everyone. Twenty little kids, humanity's most cherished and hopeful gifts, struck down, says Mike, because of our struggles with the meaning of our Constitution. Not content that America already has more people praying to him than any Western nation, or that He's on our money, in our Pledge of Allegiance, that every president ends every speech calling upon His blessings, Mike Huckabee's God lets little children die because schools are spending their time trying to teach them how to read and write, leaving prayer to their hearts and homes.
I don't know how to make things better, but these guys aren't helping at all.

Sid Schwab lives in Everett. Send comments to

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