Learning Peacefulness from the Zapotecas
by Devon G. Peña
Pundits and analysts have engaged in mostly thoughtful discussions of the social, cultural, and political contexts of the recent mass murder in Arizona. According to Michael Nagler, there is growing recognition of “an apparently forbidden truth: that we bring violence on ourselves when we promote it, glorify it, or legitimize it — as in this case by the extreme rhetoric associated with Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, among others.” Still, for every such in-depth analysis of the issue, there are others content to remain on the surface.
Was the Tucson massacre a form of political violence? Some have argued that it was, by virtue of the fact that the principal target was an elected official. Many on the right, including Palin, have objected to this characterization, arguing that “blaming the right” or any one else is intrinsically unfair and that the mindless crime occurred simply because the perpetrator was mentally ill and unhinged. Since the assassin was ‘sick,’ this cannot be seen as a ‘political act.’ The allegedly deranged mental state of the perpetrator becomes an opening to ‘de-politicize’ the crime. This is, simply put, a ruse. (more…)