Memorial doomed to fail
Guest columnist Thomas Wicker (Douglas High graduate attends Tucson shooting memorial, R-C Jan.19) made a valiant, but ultimately unconvincing, attempt to give some positive context to this rather raucous memorial.
To be fair, the event was launched in a highly poisonous atmosphere. Within hours of the shooting, some Democrat political operatives made an oafish attempt to blame the shootings on “right wing hate speech”. Ur-oaf Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik gratuitously identified Rush Limbaugh as having driven Jared Laughner into a homicidal rage. This and other slanders, amplified by the MSM, continue through today. Even the hate speechifier emeritus over at Brand X got into the act when she penned a buffoonish column attempting to draw Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle into the chain of causation.
The memorial itself got off to a partisan start when it came out that Obama’s political campaign group “Organizing for America” had been allowed to pre-position t-shirts with Obama’s campaign slogan “Together We Thrive” in the McKale Center’s audience arena.
UA President Shelton performed the introductions as if he were stage-managing a pep rally, to use Mr. Wicker’s phrase. The audience could be forgiven for thinking that clapping and cheering was expected of them. Many of these young people had probably never attended a memorial before.
Then came the medicine man’s rather bizarre invocation. Since no credible effort was made to connect his ceremony to any of the victims, many viewers failed to see his performance as appropriate to the occasion and may have suspected that he was invited as a politically correct accommodation to the diversity and inclusion crowd.
When President Obama took the microphone, he could have saved President Shelton from himself by telling the crowd that they were part of a solemn occasion and asking them to behave appropriately. But, no, he was apparently enjoying the adulation too much. Cynical viewers might have suspected that President Obama had co-opted this solemn occasion in order to boost his poll numbers.
The President’s speech soared at times: “We cannot use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other.”
And flopped conspicuously: “For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired …”
But Sheriff Dupnik knew. His department had had multiple contacts with Jared Laughner, knew he was a doper, knew he had threatened people, and knew for at least three years that Laughner had been stalking the congresswoman. Yet Dupnik failed to have any deputies attend the event. Unable to pin that failure on Limbaugh, Dupnik won’t discuss it publicly, and now he’s refusing to release any of the “public” information in his files about Laughner’s case.
I respect Mr. Wicker, and I wish him every success at AU. But a memorial that was launched in such a toxic environment, with such serious flaws, was doomed to fail.