The Loss of Mourning

Katy Grimes: Watching the “memorial” of the Tucson shooting victims killed by Jared Loughner earlier this week was a flashback to the Wellstone Memorial – an event supposed to be somber and sad, but ended up getting hijacked by Democratic party operatives, and turned into a political pep rally.

As I watched the Tucson memorial, my heart ached for the families of the victims every time I heard the cheering and yells from the crowd, exalting the President’s speech, sentence by sentence. And as I ached for the victims’ families, I remembered that a similar event hijacking took place during U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone’s memorial in 2002.

I wasn’t alone in my criticism of the Wellstone Memorial, as it came to be known. Even Slate magazine reported, “Paul Wellstone’s memorial service turns into a pep rally.” A Slate reporter wrote, “a pantheon of Democrats—Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Tom Daschle, Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry—has come to pay its respects.”

Critical of the politicization of Wellstone and his wife’s tragic deaths in a plane crash, Slate said, “But the solemnity of death and the grace of Midwestern humor are overshadowed tonight by the angry piety of populism. Most of the event feels like a rally. The touching recollections are followed by sharply political speeches urging Wellstone’s supporters to channel their grief into electoral victory. The crowd repeatedly stands, stomps, and whoops.”

This week the Examiner reported much the same feeling at the Tucson memorial service. And while White House press secretary Robert Gibbs denied that the administration was behind any of the rally atmosphere, “White House operatives passed out t-shirts to the crowd with Obama’s new campaign logo, ‘Together We Thrive.’ The words were also taped to the seats in which mourners would sit during the service,” the Examiner reported.

I watched in horror the as the cheering Tucson crowd shrieked, yelled and hollered, reacting more like spastic teenage girls at a boy-band concert than mourners attending a somber memorial service for the six people who had been brutally and senselessly murdered by a lunatic.

It’s also impossible to ignore the opportunistic smear campaign coming from the most partisan politically left in the country. Claims that the brutal attack of a Congresswoman and her supporters at a Tucson grocery store was precipitated by the hate speech of conservative talk radio hosts and Fox news anchors, is nearly as deranged as the shooter must be.

Progressives have been working overtime to blame the horrific killing spree on conservatives and Tea Party supporters, and even naming Sarah Palin and Sharon Angle as responsible.

But after the Fort Hood Army base attacks, liberals were loathe to even mention that the shooter was a practicing Muslim. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, described in most news reports only as an “Army psychiatrist,” shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before gunning down dozens of people and killing 12, before he was captured.

Almost immediately, mainstream media outlets and Democrats were calling for tolerance and understanding. But Jared Loughner, the young white male who rampaged in Tucson, elicited immediate accusations of right-wing extremism. As it turns out, Loughner is a liberal who never read books, or listened to talk radio or watched television news. He was just a very mentally disturbed young man.

This behavior is despicable. All of it. And the families who lost loved ones must still live with the pain and constant reminders that too many of those who attended the memorial in Tucson were not there to respectfully mourn the dead – they were there to cheer on their President.

JAN. 14, 2011

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