At Wednesday's memorial service for the victims of the Tucson massacre, President Obama called for "more civil discourse." Instead, the service has drawn both high praise and harsh criticism, with little common ground in between. The flashpoint of the service was the Yaqui blessing delivered by Dr. Carlos Gonzales. Comments from bloggers on both the left and the right follow.
From YouthRadio: "Why the Pascua Yaqui Prayer Matters for Tucson" by Patty Talahongva:
"The reservation of the Pascua Yaqui Nation is located just outside of Tucson. They are in District Seven, the neighboring district of Representative Giffords. In a state that passed the English Only law and the more recent Senate Bill 1070, Dr. Gonzales represents the diversity Rep. Giffords embraces.
From RightWingBlog.org: "Arizona ‘Memorial’: A Most Disquieting Display" by Warner Todd Huston:
"A whole weird vibe was set at the very beginning of the memorial with pseudo Indian medicine man, Carlos Gonzales. He began the off kilter scene by his pseudo Indian blessing of rocks and trees, northern doors, and… well, whatever he was blessing, anyway. His self-referential promotion was also quite off-putting."
From Salon: "One nation, as good as it gets" by Joan Walsh:
"There it was, folks, Saturday morning and again Wednesday night: our country, as good as it gets. ... The service began with an Indian blessing from Dr. Carlos Gonzales, who described his mother as Mexican, his father as a Yaqui survivor of 'genocide,' and his son as a soldier in Afghanistan, who praised 'this great country, where a poor barrio kid from the south side of Tucson could get an education at a fine institution like the University of Arizona -- and then, even better, come back and teach here.'"
From MichelleMalkin.com: "Liveblogging the Bizarre Pep Rally" by Michelle Malkin:
"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."
From It's a G Thing: "Dear America" by blogger Gretchen:
"I LOVED LOVED LOVED Carlos Gonzales and his feather -- his authentic message, birthed from our Native American heritage, was endearing and heartfelt, as it pushed us into another realm of sacred consciousness and awareness; the imagery of the four doors, Eastern - Southern - Western - Northern, all bringing lessons to guide us in our healing process, searching for the Creator of all things, seen and unseen, in hopes of making the crooked, straight, turn our darkness into light, was beautiful. ... Of course, his humor touched me in a big way; and I loved how he interrupted the end of his prayer with a personal extension of blessings for his son, in Afghanistan -- it was perfect."
From PowerLineBlog: "An evening in Tucson -- the good, the bad, and the ugly" by Paul Mirengoff:
"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-auto biography 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."
From Dreamday Cafe: "Together We Thrive: Celebrating Unity" by galaxiecarol:
"Most impressive and moving was the opening blessing given by Carlos Gonzales of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. The blessing, a Native American blessing, beautifully called upon the energies from all directions, to unify and heal the families, the city, the people."
Though not a blogger, Brit Hume of Fox News offered what might be the most widely heard analysis:
"Gonzales, who, by the time it was over with, he had blessed the reptiles of the sea, and he prayed to the four doors of the building, and while, I'm sure that all has an honorable tradition with his people, it was most peculiar."
Maybe the grumbling about Gonzales wasn't so much anti-Indian as anti-Obama—reminiscent of a conservative's column that tried to stoke "Indian overlords" fears. For the last word, here's Jon Stewart, who dissected the commentary on the post-memorial commentary on last night's Daily Show: