I sat last night watching and tweeting the #memorial last night. Or was it a political rally. The answer I think is that it is both. And neither. And therein lies the real problem.
I watched last night because I believed in the possibility of some sort of communal healing occurring at the event which might unite the country after the last week of rancorous bloodletting. I came out of it more worried than ever about our future as a nation.
I was impressed with Obama’s speech. I thought he struck the right tone and tamped down the various “blood libel” type memes that have been working their way over the media and internet surrounding this event. None of which I believe are helpful. Conservatives are not to blame for this event, nor are liberals. If we fall into the trap of blame, we are playing into the Marxist ideology that states that individuals actions are scripted due to societal influences rather than their own monstrous criminal acts. This of course was also Sarah Palin’s point in her video statement from yesterday which can be found here.
So what did happen last night? First of all as someone with great experience in theatre, and the staging of events, nothing that wasn’t planned or at least foreseen by those that planned the event.
So let’s subject the event to a little analysis and see what we find.
It was billed as a memorial for the dead and wounded. But it seemed to those of us watching it was more of a pep rally.
I wouldn’t have minded that, if it was sold as a Rally for Tucson. But it wasn’t. It was however branded as “Together We Thrive” which seems like a crass reworking of the “Yes We Can” mantra enough on the face of it. Michelle Malkin’s piece on this can be found here.
What this brings to light though is the way that Conservatives think of a “Memorial” which is solemn, reverent, based in faith traditions, and focuses on the individuals and families in question, and the Post-Modern/Neo-Marxist idea of “Memorialization” which works to place the individual within their appropriate identity politic and hold them up as an example to be followed and exalted.
That is the dissonance we witnessed last night. In Party Speak: “A Memorial is a Rally.” It is also why the leader of the Party got to say all the words of condolence, provide all the biographical information on the dead and wounded, and deliver the news that “She opened her eyes” as though it was an accomplishment that he had something to do with, instead of letting a friend, family member, rabbi, deliver that news.
This was not a tightly scripted political rally in the guise of a “memorial.” And while it may have helped the Obama it did not help Tucson, Arizona, or America.
We need a real memorial. For a country that used to know how to grieve, rather than simply scream on cue for its leaders.
Scott Boston @scottsboton