Albert Meyer: The right's divisive rhetoric
Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
While it is too early to have a good understanding of the shooting in Arizona, is not too early to say that some of the commentary regarding it is groundless.For instance, the idea that all sides have to tone down their rhetoric has been advanced by many in the media and by a number of politicians.The implication is that both the left and right have been equally guilty in producing a climate conducive to violence.
However, where on the left has there been any such talk, other than what is clearly metaphors?. When Sarah Palin uses targets and guns in her messages, these are clearly more than metaphors.You see the guns and the targets. If the left is to be criticized, it should probably be for its timidity in responding to the positions of the right.
Also, many are saying the shooting was not due to politics, but is rather an issue of mental health. Indeed, David Brooks, who is not a psychiatrist or psychologist as far as I know, in today's New York Times is talking as if Jared Loughner has schizophrenia. Perhaps we should wait for him to be professionally diagnosed.
But here is the other thing that is faulty with this dichotomy of politics and mental health.Even if there is an issue of mental health, the mentally disabled do not in most cases have intelligence problems. Even though their view of the world may be dysfunctional, they are capable of carrying out well planned actions.When anyone takes a political position, they should know that they may be providing the grounds for those who are less than stable, to act.When Malik Nidal Hassan (who appeared to be mentally unbalanced), went on his murderous rampage at Ft. Hood, we held Islamicists such as Alawi as being at least partly responsible for these actions.
Finally one of the things we do know is that Loughner was forced to leave his college due to his bizarre behavior. We have often seen employees who have been fired (for what may have been mental health problems) take violent measures. Perhaps it is time to realize that forcing one out of a job or school is generally experience as trauma. Adding trauma to those who are hurting can push them over the edge.
The point is not necessarily to ignore the actions of these people but to assist them in getting treatment for their problems. This is one more reason why we need a universal single payer health system (that includes mental health) so that all in need of help can get it. Not only will the individual be helped, but so will society.