Should anyone’s murder be shrugged off because of his or her political views?
Of course not. Not anywhere in the world, and certainly not in the land of the First Amendment. It’s morally repugnant to even think it.
Yet, occasionally over the years there are those who not only think it, but openly espouse it.
After the 9/11 attacks, a University of Colorado professor, Ward Churchill, wrote an essay essentially arguing that World Trade Center workers deserved to die as “Little Eichmanns” of U.S. foreign policies he opposed.
The Nazi Adolf Eichmann was a leading architect of the Holocaust, for which he was later hanged.
Unbelievable – that any rational human being would equate innocent office workers with the sinister fathers of Nazi genocide.
More recently, a University of Tampa professor was fired for insinuating that Texas residents deserved Hurricane Harvey – which killed at least 75 – for voting Republican.
“I don’t believe in instant karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas,” Kenneth Storey wrote in a tweet. “Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them.”
After Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot and very nearly killed at a practice session for Congress’ charity baseball game, MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid regretted that his conservative views would have to be put aside just “because he is in jeopardy and everybody is pulling for him.”
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley even suggested the unprovoked shooting of Scalise was “to some degree, self-inflicted.”
And this week, a top lawyer at CBS was fired for appearing to suggest on Facebook that victims of the massacre in Las Vegas had it coming because of their devotion to country music and, she assumed, guns.
“I’m actually not even sympathetic (because) country music fans often are Republican gun toters,” Hayley Geftman-Gold said of the 59 murdered in Vegas.
To further show her contempt, she referred to Republicans as “Repugs” – no doubt short for “repugnant.”
Talk about repugnant!
Geftman-Gold later apologized, in part for “diminishing the significance of every life affected by Stephen Paddock’s terrorism last night and for the pain my words have inflicted on the loved ones of the victims.” You think? She not only presumed to know every victim’s politics, but condemned them for it.
But even that is too narrow a reading of her post. She also, by extension, condemned anyone else in the country holding similar views.
How much hate and contempt must one have in one’s heart to so callously write off the mass deaths of political opponents? How twisted must one’s heart be to view masses of people you disagree with as worthy of death, or at least unworthy of your sympathy – and even comparable to a Nazi who smoothed the way for millions to die in extermination camps?
Now, if you like country music or support the Second Amendment – which, unknown to Geftman-Gold, are two different things – you are in that category.
Political views can be passionate without being predatory. Politics are all about deciding how we interact as human beings. But when they consume us, they eat away at our humanity.
In the age of the Internet, we don’t just have to be careful what we write or say. We should give a good look at what we think as well.