It is impossible to stop thinking about the tragedy in Tucson and we probably shouldn’t try. There are too many lessons to be learned and too many fine people to honor and remember for us to turn away just yet.
The NYTimes’s Adam Nagourney has reconstructed for us the terrifying sequence of events last Saturday in that Tucson mini-mall. [Here] He described how Congresswoman Giffords had arrived on time for her first “Congress On Your Corner” event of the day. She had started to talk to constituents who had lined up behind a table to talk with her. Jared Loughner walked up to an aide, asking to talk to the Congresswoman. The aide, Alec Villec, directed him to the end of a line of about 20 people who were waiting patiently to speak to Giffords.
Loughner went to the end of the line but a few minutes later came striding back with his gaze set on Giffords. He brushed past Villec and, gun in hand, came up behind Giffords, who had just greeted Judge Roll, and opened fire at them both. He then turned and continued firing. Nagourney described the assailant as “dancing up and down excitedly,” before turning his gun on constituents, staff, and passersby.
Loughner went through the crowd shooting until his clip ran out of ammunition. As he was digging out a second clip, he was tackled and wrestled to the ground by two men, Roger Salzgeber and Bill Badger. Patricia Maisch, a 61-year old woman, had just seen Laughner shoot a woman next to her who had been using her body to shield her teenage daughter. Maisch told the press later that she thought that she was next and wondered what a bullet wound would feel like, when she saw that the gunman was fumbling with the magazine. She grabbed it and then saw him tackled by Badger and Salzgeber. She saw that his lower legs and feet were still free so she sat on them until more help arrived. [Here]
In the meantime, Daniel Hernandez, a 20-year-old intern for the Congresswoman, had rushed to Giffords. He saw that she was bleeding badly and was in danger of strangling in her own blood. He had had hospital training and knew what needed to be done. He pulled her upright and used his own hand to staunch her blood until Safeway employees got him clean butcher smocks. He held her hands and talked to her, reassuring her and telling her to squeeze his hand, hoping that it would comfort her.
We shall continue to hear more stories about the uncommon bravery that ordinary, decent people showed in those moments of horror. It was a scene, too, of self-sacrifice--husbands protecting wives, mothers shielding daughters.
But even as the first reports were still rebounding across the country, the Westboro Baptist Church announced that they would picket the funerals of those slain. The church (and it is difficult for me to write “church” in connection with these hate-filled demented people) announced on their website: [Here]
THANK GOD FOR THE SHOOTER--6 DEAD!
In the meantime Sarah Palin’s website has taken down the bullet targets and her aides have been tweeting denials, saying that those targets weren’t really targets. (Remember the “Don’t retreat! RELOAD!”) Do they really believe the public is this stupid? [Here]
And while everyone is now denouncing violent political rhetoric, it is Paul Krugman who once again has reminded us of the stark truth: [Here] [The emphasis is mine]
[It’s] the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.
Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right.
This might not be p.c. to say at this moment, but it is certainly true.
Once again, Paul Krugman tells the truth...