Politicizing Tragedies

Two weeks ago, the nation was thrown into shock. One of our country’s most dear sporting events was attacked, our friends and family were thrown into danger, and our most historic and beloved city was shut down entirely. Within 24 hours, and even earlier in some cases, many politicians, pundits, and ordinary citizens were using the bombings to advocate for their various political agendas. Some cited the bombers status as immigrants as reason for immigration reform. Some called for gun control reform while others called for more lax gun laws that would allow Bostonians to defend themselves from the bombers (because arming a pissed off and terrified group of citizens would definitely not lead to anything bad). These cries for change were met with more outrage than support. Many people were appalled that political agendas would take the forefront so soon after a tragedy like the Boston Bombings.

It seems that every time there is a tragedy this happens. After the Newtown school shootings there were calls for changes in gun control laws. The same was true after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. Every time these attempts to use tragedy for reform they are met with the same mix of support and outrage. Many people believe it is disrespectful to those harmed or affected by the tragedy to use their suffering as tool to advance a political agenda. However, this isn’t necessarily true.

Every time I have had a discussion with a friend or fellow student about this issue I find myself asking them the same thing — if not now, then when? Just as there was no more appropriate time to discuss gun laws then after the Aurora shootings, there is no more appropriate time to discuss harder background checks and stricter immigration laws than now. Nothing exposes the flaws in our political systems and laws more than a tragedy like this. Perhaps no reform could have prevented the tragic events two weeks ago, but that’s not the issue. The point is that now that these problems are exposed, we should move to fix them.

It is very important that we do not forget the victims of these tragedies. But I fail to see the correlation between forgetting them and having a discussion about fixing a problem that lead to their harm. If we do nothing or wait six months to have a discussion then we are doing little to honor the memory of the victims. What would do more to honor the memory victims than to prevent more people from dying in the same way?

I am not advocating any political point about immigration or gun control. All that I am arguing is that no death should be in vain. If we do not learn from the events of in Boston then we are dooming ourselves to more tragedy in the near future.

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