Monday, January 17, 2011

Courtland Milloy's selective memory

Courtland Milloy wants us all to just get along.

The venerable Post columnist, who blasts users of social media while maintaining a Facebook profile, questions today why it takes a tragedy like the Tucson shootings to ostensibly bring people together and bemoans the fact that DC residents don't take heed of the killings going on right at our doorstep.

The homicide of a little-known Hispanic man has about as much chance of generating widespread sympathy as, say, the death of a resident of Juarez, Mexico, by people wielding firearms bought in the United States. We just don't see the connection to us, as if they are not part of our human family.

For most of us, the lives of the Morenos of the world aren't worth so much as a blip on our emotional radar. We discount their deaths as easily as we do those of civilians in Afghanistan who get killed by our missiles, fired from drones as easily as we fire off nasty anonymous notes via e-mail.

TBD has already performed a rather thorough takedown of Milloy's apparent technological inadequacies, but that's not my point. The man who today laments "that our current state of goodwill is not expected to last" is the same man who, only four months ago, decried the "myopic little twits" (affluent Fenty supporters) who patronize "chic new eateries" and "(fired) up their "social media" networks" whenever Adrian Fenty was supposedly under attack.

In the wake of Vince Gray's defeat of Fenty in the Democratic primary, it was Milloy encouraging those who "need more time to gloat and wave their fists" to, in his words, "take it".

One wonders whether the January 2011 Courtland Milloy, with his calls for a toning down of political rhetoric and an increase in restraint and civility, would be at all bothered by the September 2010 Courtland Milloy, who accused Fenty and his supporters of seeking to "re-create a more sophisticated version of the plantation-style, federally appointed three-member commission that ruled the city for more than a century."

Death panels? Fenty the Plantation Master? Both to me seem to be branches of the same rhetorical tree.

Not that the January 2011 Courtland Milloy doesn't have a point. Yes, the Tucson shootings were indeed a tragedy, but so is the fact that Prince George's County is averaging practically a homicide a day, as is the fact that the nation's capital--despite tremendous improvements--maintains one of the nation's highest murder rates. It shouldn't take the tragic murder of six people, and the shooting of 14 others, including a congresswoman, to remind us that all human life is valuable, argues Milloy.

No, it shouldn't. But, pray tell, what separates the charged rhetoric at the heart of the current national debate--the us-versus-them mentality, the vilification of those with whom we disagree as not simply different from us, but as people who actively seek to do harm and who must be stopped--from the heated rhetoric and "suck on it" attitude adopted by the likes of Milloy to describe the recent mayoral race and its implications on the city's ongoing metamorphosis?

If there's a line there, it's blurred beneath a cloud of inciteful, overheated rhetoric.

Do as I say, not as I do, Courtland?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nicely put.