Earlier this week, Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire on a crowd of people attending an outdoor country music festival from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 people and wounding more than 515.
Following the shooting, Kerry Washington, a well-known actress most known for playing Olivia Pope, a crisis management expert to politicians and power brokers in Washington D.C., in ABC’s “Scandal,” went on “The View” to discuss the tragic event. While on the air, she claimed that we should politicize tragedies “as soon as possible.”
Specifically, when asked by Joy Behar, one of the co-hosts of the show, what she thought about those who claim that now is not the time to talk about politics, Washington replied, “it’s hard because, to be honest, I was very emotionally impacted by Las Vegas. And unfortunately, there’s not going to be a good time to talk about it because the situation with guns in this country is that every single day we are losing someone to gun violence, so the only time to talk about it is as soon as possible.”
By saying this, Washington is basically saying that people should use tragedies to score political points, which is an absolutely heartless thing to suggest. The days after a tragedy should consist of mourning those who were lost and celebrating the lives of those who survived.
In an attempt to justify her position, she mentioned that it would be okay to politicize her own death. “I know there’s a lot of people who say we shouldn’t politicize deaths. [But] you know, for me, god forbid, if anything happened to me, I’m telling you ladies, I want you to politicize it forever. Go ahead and politicize it,” stated Washington.
Her reasoning, however, highlights a major problem with the idea that people should “do to others what you would want to be done to you.” Just because Washington wouldn’t mind if her death was politicized doesn’t mean others feel the same. She should instead aspire to “do to others what they would want to be done to them.” This way, people are treated the way they want to be treated instead of having someone else’s preferences imposed on them.
Sadly, Washington is not the only person pushing to politicize the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. For example, following the shooting, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the current White House Press Secretary, was asked by reporters to talk about potential changes to our country’s gun law that could come as a result during a White House Press Conference.
Specifically, shortly after starting the press conference, Sanders was asked, “when these horrible massacres occur, it leads to questions about gun control. Has this particular massacre made the president think anything more about pursuing tighter gun laws such as background checks to prevent massacres like this from happening again?”
In response, Sanders reminded him to spend today focusing on those who were lost or hurt, not politics. “Look, this is an unspeakable tragedy. [But] today is a day for consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with all of those individuals. There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country,” she explained.
“There is currently an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation. A motive has yet to be determined and it would be premature to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all of the facts or what took place last night,” continued Sanders.
“[But] I think today is more…a day of reflection, a day of mourning, a day of gratefulness for those that [sic] were saved,” she added, noting, “I think that there will be time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment. But certainly, I think that there is a time for that to happen.”
Washington and anyone who tries to bring up politics in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, or any tragedy, should be ashamed of themselves. As Sanders and others have made explicitly clear, right now is a time of mourning, not politics.