Yes, it needs to be politicized

03 Jul 2013 05:28 pm
Posted by: Donna

Sometimes a tragedy happens, such as the Yarnell fire that cost 19 young men their lives, and it’s common for people to take umbrage at other people asking why the tragedy happens – what may have been the distal and proximate causes and what can be done to prevent future occurences? “Now is not the time for that,” they say. “Is it too much to ask to give the families time to mourn?” Oh no, we mustn’t “politicize” these things until a decent interval has passed. And if another tragic event occurs during that arbitrary interval? Lather, rinse, and repeat.

I’m so done with that. So done. First, if we really respected the privacy and grief of the families and community, then why are so many reporters from Phoenix and the rest of the country currently in Yavapai County sticking microphones into the faces of people affected by the fire and demanding to know how they “feel right now”? Second, you know who loves it when people are loath to politicize catastrophes caused or exacerbated by greed and moronic public policies? Corporate honchos and their pet politicians aiming to keep the status quo going, that’s who.

Screw them. You know who else is done? Charlie Pierce of Esquire, that’s who.

The firefighters who died in Arizona were the elite of their trade, the de facto special forces of the people who fight wildfires and forest fires in this country. And the fire simply rolled them up. Of course, it would be a terrible thing to “politicize” this tragedy, but we feel constrained to point out that, because of the genius strategy of “sequestration” — wherein Republican vandalism and the president’s gift for eleventy-dimensional chess have combined to give us a New Normal of austerity while the rest of the world is abandoning the concept — our capacity to fight fires like the one in Arizona has been hampered.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said “I hope we can get through this fire season without any fatalities.”

Sorry, Tom.

And, not for nothing, but the “budget” proposed by numbers whiz Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from Wisconsin, would cut these programs even more deeply. And, of course, we are loath to “politicize” this tragedy by saying that wildfires like the one in Arizona have been perfectly predictable to anyone who’s been studying the effects of The Great Climate Change Hoax over the past couple of decades.

You know who else is having none of it? Jon Talton.

Here is what I don’t want: Cheap sentimentalizing and cynical religiosity from politicians who are otherwise hostile to public employees, adequate government budgets and sensible land-use policies. The ones who use public pensions and unions as evil hand-puppets to distract citizens from the screwing they are getting from the plutocrats. The tax cutters and climate-change “deniers.” Please spare me your sudden compassion for public servants and first responders. Spare me your flags and “USA! USA!” and endless evocation of “heroes” if this is mere denial and lazy thinking. Look: I get the shock and grief. I used to be a first responder myself, cross-trained to deploy with forestry fire teams, and more than once was nearly killed (in the city). I know those men are with the Lord and all their tears have been dried, and I pray that their families are given comfort and grace. But I am not going to endlessly tweet this or post it on Facebook. We owe them more. Read on if you agree. This will not be a popular column. It is a necessary one.

This is a developing story and much is not known. Yet this is a time when the media must rise to their duty to serve the public trust. Don’t be the media. Be the press. I don’t care about the “emotional” statement of Gov. Jan Brewer, much less the self-serving bleats of assorted members of the Kookocracy. I understand the fire chief asking that we “respect the investigation…Please don’t pry…” But I also pray that news organizations somewhere are unleashing their top investigative reporters. Prying will be necessary, but not the sleazy television info-tainment of jamming microphones in the faces of the grieving. We need serious journalism.

It is not “too soon.”

Seriously, read that column.

At this point I feel it’s appropriate to give a nod to comedian John Fugelsang, who tweeted to his followers that they were free to politicize the f&*k out of it if he were ever shot to death. I concur wholeheartedly. It ought to be an option on your license next to organ donation, that way there’s no question and no one is arrogantly shushing people on your behalf after you’re gone.

And the thing about the “don’t politicize X” is that the same double standard applies to it as applies to notions like “civility” and “tone”. Isn’t it ever so funny how anti-abortion activists have not been told to stop politicizing the Gosnell clinic crimes, despite the fact that Gosnell brutally harmed a lot very poor and desperate women? Nope, anti-choicers have been giddily using it to push abortion bans and unnecessary added clinic regulations in state legislatures, while launching bogus “undercover investigations” to harass legitimate health care providers. These anti-choicers are for sure politicizing a tragedy, but because it’s for the purpose of making poor women miserable, which doesn’t threaten power or authority, they’re good to go.

On the other hand, when hippies want to talk right now about why the fires are bigger and the droughts are longer and why developers were allowed to build in fire-prone areas and why there isn’t enough money to spend on protecting our habitat, well, that’s unseemly. Kindly think of the victims and shut up! Same goes for you overpaid public safety union thugs. Now is not the time.

See how that works?

Baloney. Now IS the time.


  1. Comment by azbecca on July 3, 2013 7:13 pm

    It already seems like the media is trying to find someone to fault. The one team member who lived. The supervisor in charge of the scene. We now live a time where bad things just can’t happen – has to be someone’s fault. Looks like Mother Nature just created the perfect storm and the fire completely targeted back on them without warning. I was completely aghast at the CNN headline yesterday – “Feds Take Control of AZ Fire”. Like the local teams are incompetent and incapable of handling the fire. So grateful for those who put their lives on the line everyday for us.

  2. Comment by Arizona Eagletarian on July 3, 2013 9:49 pm

    You go through all of that, make a compelling point and then blunt the impact by using the word “baloney?” Come on, Donna, a much stronger word is called for to put the exclamation point on the end of your post. You probably can figure which word I believe belongs in place of “baloney.”

  3. Comment by Donna on July 3, 2013 10:03 pm

    Since the blog is published on the Republic site I have dialed down the profanity. They didn’t ask me to but I figure I’d better not press my luck with it.

  4. Comment by Arizona Eagletarian on July 3, 2013 10:09 pm

    Ah… okay. Makes sense. I would too. :)

  5. Comment by Mike Slater on July 5, 2013 12:48 pm

    If we want to place blame for this fire and the loss of lives and homes let’s start with the Sierra Club and other environmental wacko groups that don’t believe in forest thinning to prevent some of these fires.

    The people of Yarnell and Prescott are suffering greatly and should be left alone
    but now Obama is going to send that idiot Joe Biden out here for the services. Just what they need.

  6. Comment by dude on July 7, 2013 3:28 pm

    Yep, that heavily-forested area around Yarnell, in such desperate need of thinning.

  7. Comment by mike doughty on July 8, 2013 9:17 am

    Why doesn’t anyone make the connection to climate change and drought that is making these fire disasters possible?Is it because we are all to blame(including myself) for not having the will to change their lifestyles?Life on this planet is guaranteed-lifestyles aren’t.

  8. Comment by Timmys Cat on July 8, 2013 10:55 pm

    Uh, hellew, I take exception here. I worked hard at anchoring those big American flags to my car so they flapittyflapittyflap so patriotically to show how deeply I support our heroes.
    Ima going to even buy another Diamondbacks #19 shirt.

    As a patriot I support our heroes who gave it all, but do remember that as public employees their union and absurd wages will end our way of life. I’m sure their families will be taken care of somehow, by someone. Somewhere.
    This could have been prevented if liberals didn’t interfere with corporations being allowed to judiciously strip mine the scrub responsibly to better prepare it for future development. Plus the resulting dust would have blocked the sun and cooled the earth.
    I blame the whales.

    Yeah yeah yeah usual more same worse. Yuusss that’s always there, but only in ideation.

  9. Comment by Timmys Cat on July 8, 2013 11:21 pm

    I have dialed down the profanity

    I hope you don’t muhsplode from the pressure.

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