President Barack Obama spoke tonight at the memorial for the victims of the shooting in Tucson, AZ. I didn’t get the chance to watch it live, but the White House website had it posted online. You can watch here below:
President Obama did an excellent job eulogizing the victims, and what he had to say about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was touching:
I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I want to tell you — her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you — right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time.
Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you she knows we are here. She knows we love her. And she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. We are there for her.
His speech was good, and I appreciate what he had to say about “discourse.”
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
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, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.
So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together…
…And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not – but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud. (emphasis mine)
Well, actually we do know what triggered the attack, but all in all this was a very good speech. He said the right things, and I am thankful. My only wish is that you spoke out sooner and stopped some of your Democratic colleagues from blaming those “who think differently” than they do.
The venue was strange however. Standing ovations? Cheers? This was supposed to be a memorial service, not a pep rally. So I personally found that odd, perhaps some may disagree, but I typically don’t cheer at memorial services.