A brief note on “politicizing tragedy”

A lesson we’re all going to learn again in the next few days is that a tragedy can’t be “politicized”, or at least that it is ok to do so, if the shooter involved is Muslim and says “ISIS” before killing people, even if he has nothing to do with actual terrorism, even if that is just the thin reed to which he clings in the tidal wave of his own hatred and madness.  Then it is ok to call out political opponents for being weak on terror, and not being manly enough. Then it is ok to score points. Not when a mentally unstable kid shoots up a schoolhouse, killing 20 kids, or a theater or a black church. Then we are politicizing tragedy.

It’s always correct to bring politics into tragedy. Politics, in a society like ours, is the result of our collective action and will. It’s the outcome of our ideas and beliefs. It is messy and angry and at times like these stained with bitter tears. But to not be political, to not try to find reason in the face of horror, is to give up, to abdicate our duties as citizens. There should be, and will be, fights about this. And that is good and healthy. We just need to make sure that we always have these fights, because that is the only way things will get changed. “Politicizing” the shooting at Emmanuel African helped bring down a flag of treason and slavery. It does make a difference.

As we said in regards to FlintBut any human-caused tragedy is inherently political, and response to it needs to be. Accusations of politicizing events are a dodge, an intellectual grift, designed to keep whatever policies caused the tragedy in place. It’s better to just say “it’s a terrible thing”, as if there was some kind of free-floating miasmatic tragedy fog that just happened to land on a place. 

As citizens of a democracy, it is our duty to create a political response to the actions of human, especially when those actions target a group vilified by so many. That’s not to take advantage of the dead, or turn them into unwitting martyrs. We don’t- I certainly don’t- speak in anyone’s name. We just need to be able to try to turn an unimaginable massacre into a better place, where it is harder and harder to kill so many people, to destroy so many lives, simply because you want to.


One thought on “A brief note on “politicizing tragedy”

  1. Pingback: Angry Blacks, Angry Whites, Angry Muslims: The Howling Madness Grows | Shooting Irrelevance

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