Sunday’s shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was an event that proves even the places that are most sacred to us are not inviolable, that we must be ever-vigilant if we’re to keep evil at bay. If only that were possible in this world.
Jim David Adkisson was by several accounts an unstable individual who matches the profile of a man who would do exactly what he did in that church. As a former attendee, he presumedly was disaffected because the church began to embrace more and more liberal views of morality. In that respect it’s difficult to blame him for his anger – there are clearly aspects of our society that should not be part of church life.
Yet instead of dealing with the world as it exists, Jim Adkisson went off the deep end. Again. Previously he’d put a gun to his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s head and threatened to kill her. Even his friends acknowledge he had a dark, dark side that threatened to engulf him at times. It’s actions that define a man, not his attitudes, and Jim Adkisson’s actions were those of a murderous fiend, all the more hideous for having been taken in a church.
After singing the praises of Universalism, RJ Eskow says that it is conservative leaders and media who are to blame for the shooting.
Who really killed those Unitarians? Was it the preachers who spread hatred and intolerance? The politicians who court and flatter them instead of condemning their hate speech? The media machine that attacks liberals, calls them "traitors" and suggests you speak to them "with a baseball bat"? The economic system that batters people like Jim Adkisson until they snap, then tells them their real enemies are gays and liberals and secular humanists?
If you ask me, it was all of the above.
You killed them, Pat Robertson. You killed them, Pastor Hagee. You killed them, Ann Coulter. You killed them, Dick Morris and Sean Hannity and the rest of you at Fox News.
Sadly, there seems to be some agreement among those commenting that RJ’s view is valid. I’d dismiss his article with a sneer and call it liberal opportunism, which it plainly is, except it’s worse than that.
Over time society changes as a result of a constant agitation by the people in it. Now freeze society for an instant and examine who the change agents are. There are many, of course, and all with different views of what "improvements" should be made to America. These views are aggregated and dulled during a vetting process before implementation – such is the nature of a republican state. Few are made happy and the process continues, with one group standing out as an agent of change.
Liberalism its name by actively seeking to expand the definition of acceptability on two fronts: increasing the role of government and expanding the range of acceptable peoples and behaviors in society. Both of these expansionary agendas have deservedly met with opposition and only a fool would expect otherwise.
It’s ironic when a RJ Eskow pens a rant against the destructive forces of capitalism or such rot but never acknowledges that liberalism is the champion of change and the disruption that change brings with it. This fundamental fact can never be discussed by liberals, however, because it decries the myth of infallibility that is at the core of the movement.
This failure of integrity is unfortunate because it puts at risk the positive changes that liberalism has made in western societies: unfettered education, women’s rights, the end of segregation, to name a few. Liberalism once did great things for America. But by failing to ask the question, "Is what we’re doing still right?", it’s a movement that has gone too far and gotten off-course.
A little government intervention in the right areas is a good thing. Too much and it becomes a morass of corruption and self-perpetuating bureaucracy. Tolerance of people with different, even perverse views and lifestyles or a good thing. Improperly defining them as equivalent and equal to standard moral behavior is not because doing so tells a lie and diminishes the basic values on which society is built. But these truths can never be told. Indeed, these questions can never asked.
Jim Adkisson snapped and murdered the very people who he should have gone to for help. But whether it was because of his personal failure to deal with the competition of capitalism, the influence of an abrasive neo-conservative media business, or because liberalism jammed a false world view of moral equivalency down his throat is highly debatable.
It’s also irrelevant. A man is responsible for his own actions. Jim Adkisson’s failure to control himself is both sad and indicative of the conflict at work in the hearts of many Americans, people who are unable reconcile the disconnect between politically correct liberal values, what they see in the popular media, and what they know in their heart to be right.
Referring specifically to Adkisson’s anger over acceptance of gays in the Unitarian church it should be noted that the Bible does clearly call homosexuality a sin. For a Christian church this fact should not be ignored. Yet homosexuality is rarely mentioned in the Good Book. Perhaps that’s because it’s so obviously wrong that no further mention was deemed necessary. Or perhaps because it’s a relatively unimportant sin.
I’m inclined to believe both are true. We all fall short of perfection, whether gay, straight, black, or white. Somehow Jim Adkisson forgot that, quite possibly because of all of the lies he was forced to witness, act out, and subjugate himself to simply by being part of modern America.
He became, as Eskow says, a monster. But while blaming Ann Coulter, et al, RJ shouldn’t forget his own movement’s integral contribution to the making of a madman.