Last night, President Obama called on Americans to use the Arizona shootings to “expand our moral imaginations.” In a memorial held at the University of Arizona, a host of local and national figures paid respects to the victims of the tragic shootings and their families and friends. I watched the entire event online. In my view, it oscillated between self-aggrandizement and heartfelt sympathy.
Who was the memorial about? The lowlights occurred when the memorial was about the speaker or the speaker’s institution. The highlights occurred when it was about the victims and their families. The latter was when Arizona Gov. Brewer named the victims, when Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano quoted from the book of Isaiah, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder read the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians—all direct, to the point, transcendent. Highlights of Obama’s address were the same—when he recalled in detail the lives and loves of the victims.
It’s obligatory at a time like this to call for national unity and harmony, an end to divisiveness and polarization. The president called on us to use the event as an opportunity to “expand our moral imaginations.”
I wish it were so. But I predict only a short interlude of civility.