7.30.2008

Two Dead in Tennessee — Where are Obama and McCain?

(Editor's Note: This is the second part of short series reacting to the Tennessee church shooting incident.)

by Jeff Siegel


On Tuesday (July 29), I called out Supreme Court Injustice Antonin Scalia and the Radio Right for their roles in Sunday's Tennessee church murders. Turns out I was more correct than I feared. The accused gunman owned books by FOX's Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage; and Sean Hannity. That's practically the Holy Trinity of the right-wing talk squad.

I also predicted that neither of the presidential candidates would have the guts to condemn the killings. And sure enough, that's what has happened.


I did a Google web and news search on Tuesday afternoon for "tennessee church shootings McCain" and "tennessee church shootings Obama." Nothing turned up other than news stories detailing the shooting and news stories talking about various candidate doings. I also checked each man's website, and there was nary a word about the shootings there.

Let's look at this and see just how cowardly their behavior is. Both men are running as religious moralists — that is, as candidates who advocate a specific system of principles and values that revolve around Protestant conceptions of societal good, and both have injected religious belief into the campaign in a way not seen in decades. McCain says "The Greatest Honor is to Serve the Cause of Human Dignity" in talking about repealing Roe v. Wade; Obama phrases it this way: "But, you know, my Bible tells me that if we train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not turn from it."

So why don't they respond when a man kills two people in a church? They're religious men, God-fearing men, who want to set an example for the rest of us, aren't they? The reason is politics, plain and simple. If either condemns the shooting, they'll risk offending the National Rifle Association, perhaps the most politically powerful lobby in the country, ahead of the November election. And neither will do that, ever — no matter what the moral imperative.

The NRA represents a sizable portion of McCain's base, while Obama and his handlers are constantly wary of offending that base, fearful that it could push a swing state like West Virginia to McCain and cost Obama the election. That, after all, is one explanation for what happened in 2000. It doesn't matter what either man would say; the NRA tolerates no discussion involving guns from politicians. Anything they say is wrong, and the NRA will punish them for it. Politicians know this, and their silence when horrible gun crimes happen — the Virginia Tech shooting, Columbine — is deafening.

This is hypocrisy of the highest order, and it doesn't really surprise me. It disappoints me, but that's something I guess I'll have to learn to live with in our post-modern political culture.

For other posts on the topic of guns and the lack of gun control, please see:

(The photo is by Mihai Andoni of Bacau, Romania via stock.xchng.)












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