The Tucscon Memorial Service: The Sick Reaction Of The Crowd

The Tucscon Memorial Service was a grotesque event. It was not grotesque because it was on television, although I’m not entirely sure why it was televised. It was not grotesque because inexplicably, it seems like politician after politician was speaking. To their credit, everyone including Barack Obama, gave speeches that seemed to be entirely appropriate for the event. It was not grotesque for the same reason that the Wellstone funeral was grotesque. It was not overly politicized.

But, the crowd reaction? It was loud, raucous, and inexplicably boisterous. They were cheering like it was a pep rally. They were applauding. You almost expected to see beach balls going up and down during the “Memorial Service.” Maybe we shouldn’t expect more of a “Memorial Service” where they handed out t-shirts before they got started. Classy. Not.


Since people will ask about Obama’s speech, I thought it was good, but not great. It’ll probably be hailed as great, but only because it has been so long since he’s given a good speech. Then there’s the fact that it was appropriate, which was almost a surprise given how tone deaf he’s seemed at times during his presidency.

Still, Obama deserves some credit. The speech was touching at points and here are the money parts of the speech,

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.

So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.

But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

….The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives — to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, (it did not), but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.

It would have been nice to have heard that at the start of left-wing blame fiesta, but it still needed to be said and better late than never. Unfortunately, the speech was also too long. It would have been better, if it were shorter. But, all in all. Good speech, terrible crowd.

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