By Charles Moncrief
I did not kill John Kennedy. Trust me on this. More in a moment.
The day was Saturday, January 8, 2011. The place was Tucson, Arizona. The occasion was a rally featuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat. A man shot the Congresswoman and several others, some of whom were wounded fatally.
Sounds dispassionate when expressed this way, doesn’t it? But doesn’t a dispassionate presentation stand up favorably alongside the usual lies, knee-jerk reactions, and gleefully predatory judgments that the media raise against everyone who exercises free speech? The anchors at the television and radio news outlets, without any facts, immediately attributed the shooting rampage to certain commentators and former political candidates whose intention is to change the government of the United States. A sheriff in Arizona vilified anyone who dares to raise a voice against the rulers we currently serve. And before we suggest that it was his ignorance that caused him to get this backwards -- about government’s role as to serve the people -- I’d suggest that he has expressed his belief intentionally. He’s an elected official, after all.
The rush-to-judgment accusations made by the usual suspects -- the members of the press and the various columnists -- will never be retracted. This is because they know that the false witness they have borne (a clear violation of Commandment #9, if we need a refresher) will stand forever. It’s intentional, and follows the precedent used by the IRS several years ago when they published that Mohammad Ali was being investigated for possible tax evasion. When the former boxer was cleared of wrongdoing (a charge that he never should have faced in the first place), little if any reporting occurred; fear-based compliance with IRS rules will always trump the truth.
Guilt by Association
Those who promote a certain political ideology (or seem to promote such) are now getting such rotten treatment that Rush Limbaugh is almost being pictured as the trigger man and Sarah Palin is being depicted as the gun moll. Whether you agree or disagree with either person, whether you like or dislike their manners of presentation, you can’t miss the immediate cheap shots taken at both of them by the media once the “(D)” appeared next to the Congresswoman’s name.
All I can do is thank God that the very few commentators who tried to bring racism into the false accusations were somehow silenced.
I lived in Dallas on November 22, 1963. I was too young to vote, but was aware of the differences between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. I was also aware of the generally conservative tone in Dallas, but had no idea of the extent to which Dallas would be hated following the President’s assassination. Approximately a half million Dallasites were all guilty of murder in the eyes of the world, an attitude promoted by our respected news leaders of the time. But please trust me. Whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or was part of a conspiracy, it was neither the city of Dallas nor its body of residents who pulled off this horrible event. My lifelong gratitude now goes to J. R. Ewing and Lorimar Productions for restoring Dallas to greatness in the eyes of the world. (Isn’t it ironic that the shooting of the main character did so much to heal the city’s image?)
Normally I would have written this article for some other outlet, rather than for this blog site. (But be assured that I would write this in any case!) But there is a direct bearing on the lives of anyone who survives violence and abuse.
Remember Tailhook and the questions that followed? Why did the women go into the part of the hotel where they would be molested by a group of Navy pilots celebrating? Remember the accusations that the women deserved to be fondled and abused since they went there?
Remember the accusations that Mary Jo Kopechne deserved to die at Chappaquiddick because she consorted with the Kennedy family?
Remember the accusations made against every woman who files charges against a rapist?
Remember the accusations made against a woman who goes to the emergency room as a result of domestic violence?
Does it not speak to a sickness in our society when we blame someone other than the person who committed a crime or other atrocity? Granted, there is a lot of profit in the “Sue the Money” philosophy that, among other things, puts a bar out of business when an intoxicated patron kills someone while behind the wheel.
But it is fashionable, and it even feeds a public addiction, to shift blame to someone other than the perpetrator. Parental upbringing, faulty public education, schoolyard bullying, and teenage heartbreaks are favorite targets for cocktail chatter now. Even insensitive pastoral counseling (did you think I’d leave myself and my colleagues out of this presentation?) become the stuff of accusation.
Reality of Responsibility
We truly need to force ourselves into a reality check.
The gunman who pulled the trigger in Tucson should be the focus of our attention.
The men who abused the women in the Tailhook scandal were responsible.
The boys who shot the people in Columbine High School were at fault.
The drunk behind the wheel of the car deserves to stand accountable.
The cause of whatever is wrong with my life may have someone else’s name on it: my father, my mother, my brother, my first-grade teacher, my seminary professor, et al. But the recovery from everything has MY name on it.
I’ll deviate from all I’ve said above, about shifting responsibility away from the perpetrator of atrocities such as the one in Tucson, with this alone: a paraphrase of statements by Michael Youssef, Billy Graham, and other leaders.
When we shove God out of our society, we leave a spiritual void that gets readily filled by the forces of evil and opens our lives to evil for which we have no legitimate appeal other than to beg for grace and mercy from the One from whom we have turned away.
May we once again turn back to the only hope for the world.
Grace and Peace,