By: Kristin Fukushima
First and foremost, on behalf of the JACL Pacific Southwest District, I want to extend our deepest sympathies, condolences, and support for the victims of Saturday’s horrific shooting rampage. It was a senseless tragedy, with troublesome connotations for our country and political climate.
JACL is bipartisan non-profit organization. We do programs and advocacy for civil rights and social justice, but that’s not to say we identify outwardly with one party or another. So I want to be clear this is not an attack on Republicans or Democrats, but rather, a condemnation on the entire political system and climate (as both definitely engage in provocative behavior). For a very long time, politics in the United States have become increasingly partisan, divided, extreme, and antagonistic. More terrifying is the increasing use of violent rhetoric and imagery, such as the infamous “don’t retreat, reload” sentiment that former Governor Palin has used quite often.
Yesterday we reached a boiling point – a gunman shot a Democratic Congressional Representative in Tucson, AZ in the head (who remains alive but in critical condition), and killed 6 people (including a 9-year old and a federal judge). Even if the shooter was not politically motivated, it is all too easy to link this incident to the ever-incendiary tone politicians, political pundits, and the rest of us have resorted to. And we’ve already seen something like this occur with the gunman who was caught on his way to attacking a nonprofit organization in the bay and identified Glenn Beck (a conservative political pundit) as his inspiration.
These are scary times we live in – we have an anemic economy, engagement in at least two wars, a broken political system, extreme disparities in wealth, health and resources, nuclear proliferation, global warming, a broken education system, etc. The American people have every right to be angry and demand some sort of fix from our elected officials. But what JACL Pacific Southwest District would like to encourage is a peaceful approach to the issues, using dialogue and conversation to sort things out, rather than divisive fear- and hate-mongering.
I could stand on my soap box and rant about this topic forever, but instead I’ll close by reprinting the statement that National JACL sent out yesterday regarding the shooting:
“We urge all to re-examine the tactics of communicating disagreement and to use sensible debate and informed discussion without name labeling and blame gaming. It is time to condemn those who, for ratings purposes or political advantage, fan the flames of hate and fear. Hate has no place in the lives of those who follow any religious or moral code of behavior. Hate is the engine that inspires acts that destroy lives and cause misery. Today we express our sympathies for today’s victims and their families. May we meditate on the meaning of being a responsible citizen and a good neighbor.”