We are numb in Tucson - collectively and individually.
This is a community of a million people but in so many ways it is still a small town. There is a sense of identity here that we tell ourselves is missing in the megalopolis that Phoenix has become. We know our neighbors and our neighborhoods. When the first news reports came in, I recognized the shopping center - we had lunch at a deli there a couple weeks ago. When reports said an aide of Rep. Giffords was reported killed, I thought, that could be Gabe. A neighbor of ours has worked with Judge Roll. Carol across the street is an emergency room nurse at University Medical Center where many of the victims were taken. Tucson is extended family.
The events of yesterday are still playing out. I hesitated turning on the radio early this morning - whose name would be added to the list of those shot or killed? We are still waiting to hear the list of those injured in the shootings. We are waiting to understand why this happened.
The first time I met Gabrielle Giffords, I was immediately struck by how tiny she is. And how exuberant, inquisitive, and engaged she is. But it was mainly Gabe Zimmerman in her office that I worked with. I briefed him on new reports we published that had impacts on issues they were dealing with. He'd let me know of forums that the Congresswoman was holding on science and technology or renewable energy or new legislation that was coming up.
More broadly, are yesterday's events the start of the end of an era of hateful and inflammatory language in American politics, or is it the start of a new phase in which the rhetoric of violence is turned to action?