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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona: Breaking down when we should rebuild

When you lose, don’t lose the lesson. This is a phrase people in the city of Tucson, the state of Arizona, the United States and the world should heed.  Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting, many will continue right on with their lives as though nothing happened. The seams are starting to come undone and soon the whole sweater of good feelings will unravel.

The first stitch snapped almost immediately after the shooting. The Tucson community gathered to mourn for those lost or injured, and to embrace the brighter future ahead. Our public figures joined us, we applauded them and then it happened. We turned right back on ourselves and began knocking one another. Some Americans blamed violent political rhetoric as the underlying cause of the attack. Then, we called the methods of mourning in McKale Center an embarrassment. Instead of looking the other way when a few people acted raucously, we had to criticize. Instead of just ignoring foolish political rhetoric that can only be examined in hindsight, we attacked it. Our bitterness is consuming us, and we’re allowing it.

On Jan. 28, we tugged at the loose thread some more. Roughly 350 members of the Tucson community gathered outside the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, some to praise Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, others to protest against him. Dupnik infamously expressed his disappointment in the behavior of the Tucson community and the state at large following the shootings. He concluded that the events were a culmination of unacceptable behavior, making Tucson a “”Mecca of prejudice and bigotry.””  Of course, scolding a wounded community is not exactly the way to prompt healing. One of his critics, Kathy Armbruster, said that her main opposition was the reflection his comments made on the state of Arizona. “”(Dupnik’s comments) makes it sound like we’re such a horrible state with such awful people. We need someone who likes Arizona,”” Armbruster said.

I’m not sure he would still be here if he honestly didn’t like Arizona.  Unfortunately, whether Dupnik likes or doesn’t like Arizona is not the issue. When someone calls us out for ostracizing people, perhaps we ought to evaluate that, and calculate our reaction appropriately. Our response can’t be to cast them out as some sort of traitor. That sounds counterproductive. If we want to truly show people what a rich and wholesome community we are, we’re certainly headed in the wrong direction.

The reality is that we all lost something on Jan. 8. We lost the lives of our neighbors and we lost our assurance in ourselves. We lost confidence that we were reasonable people living in a reasonable and healthy environment where we could all feel safe and treat each other with respect and kindness. It is in times like these that our seemingly never-ending battle with one another has to stop. If you want to stand up for what you believe in, fine, but getting aggressive is not the answer. Maybe Dupnik spoke out of turn, maybe he was right. Maybe we are just incessantly confrontational, looking for the next big issue to fight. Who knows, but going after him right now is certainly not going to bring us together.

Those of us living in this community have felt the political pressures of S.B. 1070, the elections, budget deficits and this traumatic shooting. Before we reach for our protest signs, we ought to re-evaluate ourselves and how our community got to this boiling point. Having lived here for only a short period of time, I know that Tucson is not truly lost, but, if we insist upon relentless bickering and tremendous efforts to make life in this community more difficult, we will get nowhere. There will be things we disagree on, but when times like this are upon us, we all need to reach out and pull together. The answer can’t simply be “”not a chance.”” If we respond like that we will we lose the lesson, toil away and allow ourselves to brand our community as one always needing something to squabble about.

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at

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