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Ick Factor at Memorial Rally?

Thursday, January 13, 2011 10:07 AM Comments (110)

Anyone remember solemnity anymore?  I’m not sure we do.

Watching last night’s memorial for those gunned down in Arizona I couldn’t help but feel that that the nationally televised “memorial” had little to do with the victims of last week’s tragic shooting. All the news leading up to the event was about whether President Barack Obama could deliver a stirring speech (which he did.) The news itself made the event about Obama, politicizing it before it even began.

And then the actual memorial started with a politically correct blessing from Native American Carlos Gonzalez who received a loud cheer for saying he was Mexican on his mother’s side. Yay Mexico? What’s that about? But I think it was his big shout out to the University of Arizona that nearly brought the house down that made me roll my eyes for the first time. Shout outs? Really?

And that was only the beginning.

Fellow blogger Weasel Zippers asked, “Is This a Memorial Service for Six People Senselessly Gunned Down or a Rock Concert? I don’t get it, why are people hooting and hollering at a memorial service?”

Check out this video of Janet Napolitano taking the stage and you might ask yourself the same question.

Thank you Tuscon? I’ve been to a few memorial services and I don’t remember anything like that, do you?

When the President took the stage he could hardly finish his sentences without having to pause for applause. That wasn’t his fault, it was the crowd. Oddly over the top with their applause the entire way through. There was a sense that the people there knew they too were playing a role in history and they thought that the louder they cheered the more people would believe that healing was taking place. I think they’d seen the news and knew it was their job to show they were moved and excited. But I’m not sure that “excited” is appropriate for a memorial service. Cheering isn’t healing. And Obama’s refrain of everyone needing to be more civil in their politics, while correct had nothing to do with the event he was at unless you buy the media spin that right leaning radio and Sarah Palin had a role in the tragedy.

And it was all of that along with the t-shirts with the motto “Together we Thrive” just gave me an icky feeling that this was a campaign event. T-shirts for a memorial? Really?

Maybe it was ridiculous to believe that a nationally televised event could be something other than a nationally televised event. Maybe it was silly to think a college was the appropriate place for a solemn service. Maybe it was overreaching to look for more than politics from politicians. Or maybe we just don’t do solemnity anymore.

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About Matthew Archbold

Matthew Archbold
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Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph's University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.