Following the memorial service for the victims of the tragic shooting in Tucson, several in the right-wing media attacked and mocked the inclusion of a Native American blessing as part of the invocation.
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Speaker Carlos Gonzales Delivers Native American Blessing At AZ Memorial Service
During the January 12 memorial service held at the University of Arizona for the victims of the tragic Tucson shooting, Carlos Gonzales, who is an associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, delivered a traditional Native American blessing. [University of Arizona, accessed 1/13/11; YouTube.com, accessed 1/13/11]
Right-Wing Media Attack "Rambling" Prayer As "Most Peculiar"
Hume: "While I'm Sure [Native American Ritual] Has An Honorable Tradition With [Gonzales'] People, It Was Most Peculiar." After Fox News aired the Tucson memorial live on January 12, several Fox News anchors commented on the service. Brit Hume said he thought the "sobriety you might have expected was not to be found" at the service and attributed this "tone and atmosphere," in part, to the "opening blessing" by Gonzales, which he called "most peculiar." From the Fox coverage following the service:
HUME: I just wanted to add, I think that the president prepared this speech in the expectation this would be indeed a memorial service. I think it ended up being nothing of the kind. This was much more of a pep rally, and perhaps that is precisely what the people of Tucson and the people of this region needed.
BRET BAIER, HOST: And wanted.
HUME: And wanted. And it was really the case that the audience was really in control of the tone of this event. That the audience's reaction to the president and to the earlier speakers -- and may I say to some of the earlier speakers as well, set the tone for an event. The president had prepared his speech, I think, to have a certain kind of tone. I think he would have liked it not to go on for 36 minutes or whatever it did, but it was interrupted so repeatedly by applause, but he really couldn't help that. It was still longer than, as Chris [Wallace] pointed out, too, several of the other speeches on similar occasions that we remembered.
BAIER: It is on a college campus. It is in a stadium. But you covered President Clinton as he delivered that address in Oklahoma City.
HUME: It was a similar hall. It was just -- the whole tone and atmosphere was different. And I kept thinking this week, you know, that he was going out on Wednesday -- Wednesday, it's just a few, just a couple of days and yet it seems somehow longer to me. It almost seems as if this event is a little late. Certainly the mood in that auditorium suggested that the sense of mournfulness that you might have expected and sobriety you might have expected was not to be found tonight. And of course, I think, the whole thing is attributable in part to the remarkable opening blessing that was delivered by, what was his name, Carlos Gonzales, who by the time it was over with, he had blessed the reptiles of the sea, and he had prayed to the four doors of the building, and while I'm sure that all has an honorable tradition with his people, with it was most peculiar. [Fox News' Coverage of the Tucson Memorial, 1/12/11]
Malkin: "Native American Gives Rambling Speech While Holding A Feather...Mercy." On a January 12 blog post covering the rally, Michelle Malkin wrote:
Update 8:03pm Eastern Obama enters stadium to wild applause. Opening music: Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man.
Native American gives rambling speech while holding a feather. His remarks are frequently interrupted by whoops and cheers. He gives a shout-out to his son serving in Afghanistan. Brags about his ethnic Mexican background. Babbles about two-legged and four-legged creatures and the feminine energy that comes from Mother Earth.
Mercy. [Michelle Malkin, 1/12/11]
Power Line: "Opening 'Prayer' By Native American" Was "Ugly," Invocation "Could Have Used More God, Less Mexico." In a January 12 post after the service, the conservative blog Power Line attacked the Native American prayer as well as Gonzales' comments on his Native American and Mexican ancestry. The post concluded that the invocation "could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales." From the post, titled, "An Evening In Tucson -- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly":
In the post immediately below, I praised President Obama's speech in Tucson this evening in honor of the victims of that horrific shooting spree. That speech was part of a larger ceremony which, on the whole, was rather a mixed bag.
As for the "ugly," I'm afraid I must cite the opening "prayer" by Native American Carlos Gonzales. It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to "the creator" but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.
But it wasn't just Gonzales's prayer that was "ugly" under the circumstances. Before he ever got to the prayer, Gonzales provided us with a mini-biography of himself and his family and made several references to Mexico, the country from which (he informed us) his family came to Arizona in the mid-19th century. I'm not sure why Gonzales felt that Mexico needed to intrude into this service, but I have an idea.
In any event, the invocation could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales. [Power Line, 1/12/11]
Examiner: "Rambling 'Native American Blessing'...Provided A Stark Statement Of Pantheistic Paganism." A January 13 Washington Examiner column said that while Gonzales has the "right to practice whatever faith he chooses," his invocation was "a rambling 'Native American Blessing'" that was a "statement of pantheistic paganism." From the Washington Examiner's "Beltway Confidential" column:
...[N]o Catholic priest, Baptist minister or Jewish rabbi was included in the program. What was included was a rambling "Native American Blessing" at the outset of the program. This blessing provided a stark statement of pantheistic paganism, including forthright declarations concerning "Father Sky," "Mother Earth" and the "Creator."
Regardless of one's view of Pantheism, its prominent inclusion at the opening of a memorial service on a state-run university campus featuring a lengthy list of public officials would seem, by the familiar expressions of liberal multicultural conventional wisdom, a blatant violation of separation of church and state.
No one, of course, should question Carlos Gonzalez' [sic] right to practice whatever faith he chooses and to display it in public as he thinks best, or deny that his invocations of his love for America were entirely appropriate and inspiring. We should all be thankful for the service of his son in Afghanistan as well.
That said, it ought to be recognized that his religious beliefs and practices were used by the few to send a message of exclusion to the many, thus illustrating the utter hypocrisy of at the heart of multicultural political correctness. [Washington Examiner, 1/13/11]
Right-Wing Media Have Previously Attacked Native American Practices At Public Events
Beck, Fox Nation, Hoft Attack Native American Song Honoring Troops. As Media Matters for America has documented, Glenn Beck, blogger Jim Hoft, and Fox News' blog Fox Nation attacked a Nevada student for singing a Native American song that she dedicated to American troops during a rally for Sen. Harry Reid. [Media Matters, 11/1/10]