U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head January 8, 2011. An internal Tucson city memo unearthed February 17, 2011, revealed that Mark Esktrum, a 28-year old veteran of the Fire Department, refused to go to the scene of the shooting. Why? Esktrum shucked his sworn duties citing political differences between himself and Giffords.
The Arizona Daily Star reports, an internal Tucson city memo states that Esktrum “started to say… he had a much different political viewpoint than the rest of the crew and he was concerned.” Fire Capt. Ben Williams wrote in a memo that when Esktrum told him he would not go on the call, "he mentioned something about 'political bantering' and he did not want to be part of it." Esktrum told the Captain he was going to be sick for the rest of the day. His squadron had to go to another fire department to pick up a replacement before going to the scene of the shooting.
Humanity, just basic humanity, compels us to be better than that. His hatred for Giffords political beliefs were so strong, he felt somehow justified to ignore Giffords and the other killed and injured in the mass shooting.
It makes me wonder about the care and service Esktrum gave others who might not agree with him, or be like him. Did he let an African-American’s house burn a longer by not directing the fire hose directly on the hot spot? Did he treat people with disabilities less inhumanely than able bodied people? All his actions become suspect.
I’ve read several news sources about this story and none say if Esktrum is a tea-partier, but my guess is, he is. I feel relatively comfortable making broad brush judgments about this scumbag, since he had no trouble making them about Giffords. The callousness of his actions mirror those tea partiers who claim Christianity but do not believe they are their “brother’s keeper.”
This reminds me a story I learned as a child.
A man asks Jesus, "…who is my neighbor?"
Jesus said: A Jewish man walked along a road. He was coming from Jerusalem and was heading to Jericho, a two-day walking trip.
The road was rocky and hilly. The man was walking and enjoying the nice day when suddenly a group of men jumped him. They took all his belongings and tore off most of his clothes. They beat him very badly, and left him lying and bleeding on the side of the road.
A few minutes later a priest was walking down the same path and noticed the man lying on the side of the road. He crossed the road and walked on the other side and acted like he didn't see the man.
Later another man called a Levite; (Levites assisted priests) was walking down the road. He slowed down and walked a little closer to the man, but then kept walking without helping him at all.
Then a Samaritan walked toward the injured man. Jews and Samaritans didn't get along well. But as soon as the Samaritan saw the injured man he went over to him and felt compassion for him. He put bandages on his sores and poured oil and wine on the sores to prevent them from getting worse. Then he lifted the man onto his own donkey and took him to a hotel to take care of him.
The next day the Samaritan gave the innkeeper enough money so the man could stay at the hotel and receive care for two months. If he wasn't better after about two months the Samaritan told the innkeeper he would come back and pay for any extra cost.
Jesus asked the group, "Which of the three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who was left beaten on the side of the road?"
A man replied, "The one who had compassion and helped him." Jesus told him, "Go and do the same."
Esktrum and every so-called “Christian” legislator in Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin should read the parable and examine their own actions. So should the “Christian” US legislators as they give tax breaks for the richest 2% in the land, wage war against the poor, and cut social programs.
Ever out for his own interests, Mark Ekstrum, quickly retired two days later, as the department was deciding what kind of disciplinary action they should take against him.