On Black Friday, while out in Bismarck with my family, I saw a news alert come across my phone saying that there was an active shooter at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado. I clicked on the link to read the accompanying news report, and after that, I checked Facebook to see if there were any links to updates, etc. My Facebook news feed remained largely devoted to exhausted shoppers and what the best deals were at Wal-Mart.
I was shocked.
Within hours of the recent violence in Paris, my Facebook feed was filled to the brim with people supporting France. There was a link provided to change your profile picture to have the image of the French flag superimposed on it, and nearly every status update was offering prayers and good wishes to all who were affected.
However, when a tragedy struck on our own country’s ground, the day after a holiday where we all join hands and bow our heads and give thanks for our many blessings, my news feed was largely silent.
What does it say about our priorities when we seem to cherry-pick tragedies? At what point is a shooting considered an incident that gets our nation’s attention? Who gives the green light that says that NOW is the time for outrage? That I have to even ask these questions makes me sick and it makes me furious. I realize that Facebook is not a news source, and I realize that people have the right to post or not post their personal reactions and opinions on anything. However, when I see a “community” band together in a show of solidarity for our French comrades after a gruesome act of terrorism, and then see next to nothing when terrorism strikes on our own land at the hands of one of our own citizens, I can’t help but cry foul.
Was it because this shooting occurred at a Planned Parenthood, an organization that has been the subject of controversy and media crucifixion over the last few months? I saw posts on both Facebook and Twitter that applauded Robert Dear, the shooter – calling him a “brave hero” and marveling over his commitment to his pro-life agenda. No source has confirmed whether or not Planned Parenthood was the planned target for this tragedy or if it was a coincidence that the clinic was where the terrorism took place.
Why should this matter? Do any of us have the right to go anywhere and indiscriminately start killing people because they may or may not believe what we believe? Would my Facebook feed have looked different if this shooting had occurred at a Wal-Mart or a library or a Catholic church? Lives were lost unnecessarily — a police officer, a young mother, and a military veteran. If that isn’t something to get emotional about, I’m not sure what is.
I was in awe of the bravery showed by the French as they took to their streets as a sign that they were not going to let themselves be controlled by fear. I am just as much in awe of the bravery shown by the staff of every Planned Parenthood clinic as they vowed that “these doors stay open” and they all went back to work today, just like any ordinary Monday. By spitting in the eye of what you fear, you win.
Well done, France; and well done, Planned Parenthood.