While I am beyond horrified at the killing of a nine year old girl – BEYOND HORRIFIED – I am equally as horrified at the people who seem to think that she was the only innocent person who was injured or killed that day.
ALL of the people in the parking lot on Saturday were innocent. NONE of them had “done anything”.Her words got me thinking. This has always been my reaction to other events involving the death of young children--that it was tragic, yes, and that they were innocent, yes, but that there are a lot of tragic deaths and everyone is innocent.
Yet with Christina Taylor Greene, I've responded tragically. Christina is right that nobody in that parking lot had done anything that made them deserve to get shot, and all of the deaths were tragic. But I've responded to Christina Taylor Greene's death in a way I've never responded to any other similarly publicized tragedy. I hear her name, and tears just start coming down my face and I start thinking of what a loss to the world this beautiful little girl's death was.
Why has it affected me so much? Was it because of her age? her innocence? her beauty? her growing civic-mindedness? her talents? her birthday on 9/11? Cynically, one might suggest that the media and nation isn't so captivated when an African-American child is shot and killed in the city.
This isn't what has captivated me. I know what it is. It is that I, too, have a little girl, only a little younger than Christina Taylor Greene. I don't usually put pictures of her on my blog, to protect her privacy, but I'm going to make an exception this time and illustrate this with a picture of my family, and some other people, with Senator Carl Levin at a political rally. We never got a president to kiss our baby--this was as close as we came.
I've taken her to political rallies and protests and taken her to meet her congressional representative (who was then Rep. Mark Schauer). Schauer received threats while in office, of course. And outside his office last summer or fall there was another protest against the Representative who I consider a friend and voted for, and I saw a man in the crowd wearing a gun yelling at the office building.
It scared me. I'm scared for our president and our other elected officials when I see the photos of people bringing guns to political rallies, even if these people are only trying to make a statement about their second amendment rights. The way they're making that statement carries with it a threat of violence that is well understood by them, I believe, under the gun rights rhetoric. It scared me when I saw that gun, because I believed that man could mean violence, and it could've been a place to which I had brought my own child.
And then somebody acted on that very sort of threat this time. And I look at Christina Taylor Greene's picture and weep, because I can understand the heartbreak of her parents, although I've never been in their shoes, because I can imagine too easily being in those shoes.
This killing of a child in a public place while she was engaged in the exercise of democracy strikes a deep terror in me. And, at the same time, it feels like a great threat to our democracy, because it could mean that people like me will stay home from political events, and that little girls like Christina won't go to meet their representatives and learn to get engaged in democracy.
I want to say that I won't do anything differently because of Christina's death, but I don't know that this is true. What I do know is that I want her death to mean something, to mean something important in our country. I want her death to stand for a time when we changed and became more civil. I want her death to be a time when we changed and became more engaged in creating an America the Beautiful and stopped tearing each other down and threatening violence.
And part of those tears that fall every time I hear her name is a fear that before long her name, like so many others, will be forgotten, and this promise that she held, and that we hold for her now, will be unfulfilled.