A recent Dana Summers political cartoon in the South Florida Sun Sentinel and other Tribune newspapers depicts in its first frame a thoughtful-looking Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama saying, “In light of the recent shootings, we need to think about guns and ask ourselves the obvious question.”
Then, in the punchline frame, Clinton and Obama, both grinning now, say, “How can we politicize this?”
It’s an intellectually lazy cartoon that does nothing more than repeat the NRA-approved response when any politician dares to notice the massacres taking place across America. When any elected official or advocacy group tries to offer gun laws that might reduce the death toll – and cites the carnage du jour – they are accused of politicizing the deaths.
The accusation implies that politicians such as Clinton and Obama don’t really care about the victims, which is a lie. And it implies that politicizing the deaths cheapens them. In fact, what cheapens the tragic deaths is ignoring them, blaming the victims (for not having guns to shoot back) and, most of all, working to perpetuate the gun culture that costs so many lives.
Plus, as is obvious to all, the NRA and its vast stable of kowtowing politicians also politicize the deaths.
But let’s take a step back and ask, is it wrong and unusual to politicize death?
Of course not. Look at almost any aspect of death – particularly violent or sudden death – and related political activity surrounds it.
You could say that, in Judeo-Christian tradition, God was the first entity to politicize death. A prohibition against homicide is included in the 10 laws He handed down to Moses.
Today, the death penalty is heavily politicized. Should we do it? When should we do it? How should we do it? Are we doing it fairly? It’s an issue in elections and