As of noon on Monday, June 13, 2016, two of Alabama’s seven representatives, Robert Aderholt and Bradley Byrne, had released official statements to the press regarding the Orlando terror attack. Both are Republicans and both received money from the NRA for their 2014 campaigns. But their two statements are as different as night and day.
Aderholt wants to talk about guns and President Obama. Byrne wants to talk about sympathy for the victims.
Representative Aderholt makes a point to recognize the enemy of political correctness. He also admonishes President Obama for using “this tragedy as a means to push any type of political agenda relating to gun control,” as if, by discussing his perspective on political correctness and guns, he is not himself injecting a political agenda into his immediate response of the attack. Is Aderholt not using the tragedy in the same way as President Obama?
Representative Byrne’s statement has no political element. It’s about sympathy and unity, not politics: “The tragedy in Orlando is a strike at every American… There is no room for hate in America, and this ugly crime is the result of a coward following his own hate.” If we are going to solve this problem, we need more of this.
Obviously, there is no situation like Orlando that doesn’t have policy elements or implications, but could we have at least let people mourn and the dead be buried before we talk policy? Republicans must realize that, just as Democrats, they are guilty of using terrorist attacks to discuss political agendas. The problem isn’t that we have policy opinions; it’s that we push them too soon and deny that we ourselves are pushing them.
Our natural reactions are to immediately blame those in the other partisan camp. By blaming each other over policy differences, we forget to blame the killer himself. Our immediate responses to terror attacks shouldn’t be about policy. They should be about compassion, unity, and a recognition of the true enemy.