President Obama speaks at Newtown, Connecticut, December 16, 2012.
The transcript is available here.
Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?
Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
Those are good questions; hard ones that take more than just a pat answer from the politicians. And we will discuss them for a little while, but I’m afraid that in all too short a time, we will have forgotten what he said. Just like before.
Everyone will scratch their chins, shake their jowls, nod their heads at the profound prepared off-the-cuff remarks, and then, after they have all decided what the incident portends for everyone involved — the president, the political parties, and anyone that happens to be there, including the heroic people who got their moments in the spotlight — the networks and the blogs, including this one, will return to the status quo, and the regularly scheduled programming already in progress will be rejoined.
Within a surprisingly short time, most of the details of the incident will be forgotten. By the time the seasons change, the names of the dead will have faded from our short-term memory; the only reminders will be the trial of the suspect, but that will be the fourth or fifth story on the news, just ahead of the update on a celebrity in rehab. And the only people who will remember this with the clarity and pain are the victims; the families of the dead and the survivors who, even if they recover from the physical trauma, will never be truly healed.
Worst of all, we will immediately seek to absolve ourselves of any culpability. One person did this; one “lone wolf,” with serious mental problems, we’re told, as if that is a way of comforting ourselves that we are not to blame. It wasn’t anything we did; maybe it was the other guys, and when the other guys are confronted, they turn back and say, well, you had something to do with it. And then everyone agrees that if we all had something to do with it, then nothing can be done about it.
I wrote that on January 10, 2011, in the wake of the shootings in Tucson. But I might as well have written them after Aurora last June or Portland last week. The pattern takes hold.
Please prove me wrong this time.