Saturday, March 26, 2005

Red & Dead...Enough Said

On Monday, March 21, 2005, a terrible tragedy played out in Red Lake, Minnesota. Ten people were dead, with more injured, as the result of yet another school shooting. So how did US President George W. Bush react to this senseless loss of life?

On the day OF the shooting, he made NO public comment. Ditto for the day after. Ditto for the next 3 days as well. In fact, the president didn't get around to make any comments on the shooting until Saturday, March 26, during his weekly radio address.

Five days of silence!

As the leader of the United States of America, the president is supposed to represent the hearts and prayers of the citizens. In most cases, when some type of tragedy occurs, past presidents have tended to be quick to offer condolences and sympathy. After the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, then-President Bill Clinton didn't wait the better part of a week to express public sorrow.

Ironically enough, then Texas Governor George W. Bush issued a statement of condolence within 24 hours of the Columbine shootings. He said,

"My heart is broken...What's so tragic is not only the loss of life but the fact that there are people in our society who disregard human life to the point where they will act out their fantasies and aggressions with weaponry."

"I wish we could legislate love ... I think it's important for mothers and dads to understand that the most important job they'll ever have is raising a child to respect others. Love happens at home."

So why is it that Gov. George W. Bush would be quick to offer sympathy for one tragic school shooting while Pres. George W. Bush would be so slow in a similar case?

One answer is that, in 1999, Dubya was RUNNING for President and he didn't want to be the ONLY candidate not to issue a statement. It certainly wouldn't have played well for a man portraying himself as a "compassionate conservative".

However, the most obvious and troubling explanation has a lot more to do with ethnicity. The students at Columbine High School are predominantly white and from well-to-do families. The students at Red Lake High School are American Indians who live on a reservation beset with grinding poverty and high unemployment.

The parents of Columbine students hail from a "Red" state and might well be counted on to vote for then-candidate Dubya in his quest for the presidency. The parents of Red Lake students come from "Blue" state Minnesota and, besides, Mr. Bush is none too popular with most Indian communities.

I realize that things are never so simple as they appear. There are probably a few variables that factor into this situation that I don't know about. Still, when you consider how much concern and empathy Dubya has expressed in the case of Terri Schiavo -- even cutting short his vacation to get back to the nation's capitol to sign a bill -- his 5 day silence regarding the Red Lake shooting is not only inexcusable but embarrassing and shameful!

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