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In her post below, Emily writes “The basic point is that the tragedy in Aurora is more a cultural event than a political one.” I wish she had been in the room at Gawker before one of their editors, Max Read, hit the “post” button on this one:
This is stupid. There is no such thing as “politicizing” tragedy. James Holmes did not materialize in a movie theater in Aurora … free of any relationship to law and authority and the structures of power in this country; nor did he exit those relationships and structures by murdering 12 people and injuring several dozen more. Before he entered the theater, he purchased guns, whether legally or illegally, under a framework of laws and regulations governed and negotiated by politics; in the parking lot outside, he was arrested by a police force whose salaries, equipment, tactics and rights were shaped and determined by politics. Holmes’ ability to seek, or to not seek, mental health care; the government’s ability, or inability, to lock up persons deemed unstable — these are things decided and directed by politics. You cannot “politicize” a tragedy because the tragedy is already political. When you talk about the tragedy you’re already talking about politics.
There’s an internal consistency to this logic — the state is everywhere, therefore everything is political — but it misses the bigger point: that there is nothing in the arsenal of public policy capable of making straight the crooked timber of humanity. Calling it a political issue doesn’t mean that there’s a political solution.
Ultimately, this comes down to whether or not you accept the tragic view of human existence: that abject evil is, was, and always will be an inherent part of the human condition. If you do, you realize that no amount of legislation, administrative intervention, or even law enforcement prowess is capable of preempting the nihilistic impulses of a madman who has the presence of mind to keep his designs for terror secret.
Those of us who who hold that view do so with no satisfaction. We’d all like to see the sparks of evil prevented from turning into flames. But our recognition of the fallen nature of mankind prevents us from believing that goal can be met 100 percent of the time. By our own reckoning, we are realists. By the reckoning of those who disagree, we are pessimists. Alas, the record speaks in our favor.