I had represented
As those who know me can attest, I am inordinately proud of my city. I don't know what "heartland" means (for some of the people I had come to know, this was merely a place to be looked down upon from one's airplane window or from one's smug condescension) but there is a wonderful spirit in this still-new place and I love it. Because my own life has been so intertwined with politics, I see the political milieu as one way to describe this place. The district I represented has been represented in Congress in the past 34 years by a Jew, a Mormon, a woman (this in a state with few Jews and few Mormons). An adjoining district was represented first by an African-American and now by a member of the Chicksaw Indian tribe. In an overwhelmingly Protestant state, Catholics are routinely elected to major statewide offices. Tribalism extends only to actual Native American tribes: in
In the aftermath of the bombing, Oklahomans came together both to mourn and to rebuild. To mourn together and to rebuild together as a common people.
On Friday, the Center for American Progress and the Democratic Leadership Council hosted a remembrance discussion in
The remaining questions go beyond
In my view, there are two other factors at play and both pose frightening prospects. The first is "certitude," the unwavering certainty that one's understandings, opinions, conclusions, proposals are correct beyond the possibility of debate and that fealty to those views, and antagonism toward those which are contradictory, is an unshakable obligation. The second is the virulent form of partisanship that has eroded public discourse and led to the sight of men and women in high places demonizing holders of contrary opinion. To "demonize" -- to paint those whose views differ from your own as a "demon" -- evil, plotting, hostile to decency, incapable of rational thought, bent on destruction of essential values -- is to plant the seeds from which the bombings bloom.
We celebrate, as we should, July 4 (Independence Day) and September 17 (Constitution Day). We do not celebrate -- but must never forget -- April 19 and September 11. July 4 and September 17 commemorate our past; but how we remember April 19 and September 11, what we learn and how we change, may well determine our future.