"It is with a heavy heart that I write to you about the senseless violence in Tucson today," EMILY's List president Stephanie Schriock wrote as so many of us turned to Arizona and prayed for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' survival. We prayed for Giffords, her family, and those who were tragically affected by the civic gathering that ended in bloodshed. We gave thanks to God for brave men and women who kept the attack from being even bloodier.
When Giffords was shot in Tucson, it was a jarring confrontation with evil. A child, Christina Green, who was born on 9/11 and was interested in government at a young age, was murdered, as was a federal judge, John Roll, coming from Saturday-morning Mass.
You know their stories by now.
There were prayers. But there was also a lot of noise. Fingers pointed. Accusations made.
More reflection may be in order. More reflection is in order.
It got ugly. I was watching as supposed protectors of civility were at their most uncivil. And I was watching, too, who most of their incivility was aimed at Sarah Palin, who, in no small way, is a person who really shouldn't have been part of the story. The National Organization for Women's president was among those who lead the angry rhetorical attacks on the right, presuming if a Democrat had been shot, the bullets must have come from the right. But there was no evidence of this at the time and the evidence suggests this really wasn't a story about politics but about mental illness.
And then I received EMILY's List's press release, which exists to support female candidates who support legal abortion. Giffords is one of their women. And there was Planned Parenthood's, too.
It was completely coincidental, but when I went back to Planned Parenthood's website later in the week, "Accidents Happen" were the words that jumped out at me.
They jumped out at me and brought me back to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor, after the attack. The former Speaker of the House said: " a tragic accident took lives, wounded people in the free expression of ideas."
But it wasn't an accident.
As Schriock wrote and we all know, "a gunman attacked Cong. Gabby Giffords, her staff, and constituents at a public event ... Congresswoman Giffords is fighting for her life, following a bullet entering her brain at close range."
Schriock went on to explain: "I have read your e-mails and letters about her, how inspired you all have been by Gabby. She blazed into our lives as the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate, and we all rejoiced with her when she won a congressional seat that had been held by Republicans for 20 years."