by Ulises Silva
Sometimes, there are no words. No explanations. No ways to make light of the situation. Only ironies. Ironies that speak for themselves.
The irony that Sarah Palin’s now infamous bluster could have actually foretold a tragedy—albeit one she may have inspired.
The irony that in a state that’s leading the charge against a constitutional amendment, another amendment allowed a lunatic to procure the gun he used to shoot one of his state’s lawmakers.
The irony that, in a state where thinly-veiled anti-Latino racism spawned legislation (SB1070), it was a Latino who may have saved the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
The shootings that took place on Saturday afternoon in Arizona defied logic, and believability. When news broke that an Arizonan lawmaker—a Democrat in a very red state—had been shot, it was easy to imagine the worst. That the left was under attack—literally. Sounds paranoid? Probably. But then, Arizona and other red states have been steeping in Tea Party rhetoric for so long, who could know for sure?
Regardless of what the news reports in the coming weeks, what happens next is really up to all of us. Because for all of Saturday’s horror—the most horrific being the death of a nine-year-old who probably couldn’t understand our fixation with red and blue states—we are now at a moment of learning and opportunity.
I’ve often thought that history will not look kindly on this era. We’ve allowed network news to manipulate our political consciousness to the point that Abraham Lincoln would lose a modern-day election. We tweet simple thoughts to complex problems in 140 characters or less. We worry about who’s going to be voted off what island rather than what holes Congress is voting us into.
And yet, here we are, rudely awoken to the consequences of our inability to have civilized disagreements. To the consequences of spewing rhetoric fit for warring nations, not fellow citizens. To the consequences of our combative, disrespectful, and oftentimes selfish ways of dealing with problems and disagreements.
So I ask: How will history look at us? What is the legacy we’re leaving behind?
I e-mailed a friend on Saturday and mentioned the words “civil war.” Now a day removed from the madness, I have hope that the shootings will spark something else: the restoration of common sense. Of common decency.
In my fantasyland, tomorrow, Jan Brewer will call Daniel Hernandez, thank him for his bravery, and finally accept that Latinos have a rightful place in this society.
Tomorrow, Democrats and Republicans will start behaving like intelligent, rational people instead of armed mobs.
It’s unlikely to happen, I know. But we can try. Because the legacy we’re leaving behind is unflattering to say the least. We are in a state of madness. Of apathy. Hubris. Selfishness.
When these days become a museum exhibit hall centuries from now, what will it say about us? And what will it say about this past Saturday? Was it the start of something terrible? Or of something amazing?
I know we’re more enlightened than those in The Dark Ages. Let’s start acting like it. It’s our legacy, and our children’s legacy, we’re actively creating, after all.
To read more from Ulises, visit his fiction blog at www.spacechurros.com.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.