No pool of blood is so deep or wide that partisan ideologues won’t trudge through it to score political points.
This has always been true, of course. Every cause is in search of a martyr and all that.
But it has become even more evident in recent years as our partisan rhetoric has gotten more bitter, personal and violent.
This week alone brought some horrific examples of our increasingly instinctive move toward partisanship over humanity.
As flames were climbing into the London night, even as parents in a blazing apartment building were desperately hurling their children out of windows so they wouldn’t be burned alive, the social media illiterati were madly typing away.
Prayers for the victims? Maybe a few. But (and this may say more about my caliber of “friends” than it does about the human condition) more of the comments I saw were speculating that the fire was the result of a terrorist attack.
Because that’s what’s important, right?
It’s not as important that the residents of that building find safety as it is to proclaim that some “terrorist” must be behind it.
As of Thursday, the official death count from the fire was 17, with another 17 hospitalized in critical condition and countless more missing.
For the record, initial investigations have focused on the cause of the fire and how it spread so quickly.
There has been no official indication that “terrorism” was to blame, but there has been a lot of speculation that inadequate fire escapes and sprinkler systems contributed to the carnage.
Going back to Tuesday night, when the social media forensic investigators gleefully proclaimed the fire the work of terrorists, one has to wonder what the real motivation was of these monsters.
Clearly it wasn’t any real concern for human life.
No, that would require a degree of sympathy and altruism that is beyond the ability of the political enthusiasts who see every issue and event through the thick glasses that color their worlds.
This dynamic was in spectacular display again on Wednesday, when word rapidly spread of a shooting in Alexandria, Va., that left U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and four others injured and the alleged gunman dead.
Even as police officers investigated the scene of the attack — a baseball field where, on a Wednesday morning, members of Congress were honing their skills — speculation turned to whether the gunman was a Democrat or Republican.
It turns out that James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., who was killed by police, had been a volunteer for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in his recent run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But is that — instead of, say, the desire for a quick recovery on the part of Scalise and the other victims — really what’s important?
Well, if you get up every morning hoping that some nut will make a political point for you, then yes. Political partisanship trumps all other concerns for these zealots.
And they’re no more common on one end of the political spectrum than on the other.
It didn’t take long for the anti-gun crowd to use the Alexandria attack as ammunition.
David Frum, senior editor for The Atlantic, tweeted out a set of what some might call lies about Virginia gun laws even as the news unfolded Wednesday morning.
His disgusting missive:
No background checks
No permit req’d for concealed carry of long guns
Open carry long guns & handguns”
It’s not worth arguing with anyone whose first reaction to a tragic shooting is to spread misinformation. But it is worth noting that the desire to make a political dig was far more urgent than any attempt to understand what had happened or to wish Scalise the best or, for that matter, even to accurately describe Virginia’s gun laws.
It is horrible that we see the worst impulses in human nature play out every day. But it is far worse that we compound those failings by callously putting them to use preaching to our political allies and excoriating the opposition.
— Editorial Page Editor Michael Gorman can be reached at 448-7612 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Courier and Daily Comet newspapers serve communities in Scalise’s House district in Louisiana.