It is inevitable, I suppose, that advocates of one social policy or another will try to use the Virginia Tech massacre for their advantage. But it is simply dismaying that a serious presidential candidate should use it as the ideological frame for his set-piece issues.
Politico columnist Ben Smith has brought attention to the speech that Barack Obama made in Milwaukee just hours after the massacre. It must be heard to be believed. After deploring and expressing grief about the shootings, he continues (my transcription): ``I hope that it causes us to reflect a little bit more broadly on the degree to which we do accept violence in various forms. ... There's also another kind of violence ... it's not necessarily physical violence.''
What kinds does he have in mind? First, ``Imus and the verbal violence that was directed at young women (of Rutgers). ... For them to be degraded ... that's a form of violence. It may be quiet. It may not surface to the same level of the tragedy we read about today and we mourn.'' Good to know that Imus' ``violence'' does not quite rise to the level of Cho's.
Second, outsourcing. Yes, outsourcing: ``the violence of men and women who ... suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job has moved to another country.''
He then cites bad schools and bad neighborhoods as forms of violence, before finishing with, for good measure, Darfur -- accusing America of conducting ``foreign policy as if the children in Darfur are somehow less than the children here and so we tolerate violence there.'' Is Obama, who proudly opposed overthrowing the premier mass murderer of our time, Saddam Hussein, suggesting an invasion of Sudan?
Who knows. This whole exercise in defining violence down to include shock-jock taunts and outsourcing would normally be mere intellectual slovenliness. Doing so in the shadow of the murder of 32 innocents still unburied is tasteless, bordering on the sacrilegious.
Perhaps in the spirit of Obama's much-heralded post-ideological politics we can agree to observe a decent interval of respectful silence before turning ineffable evil and unfathomable grief into political fodder.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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