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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Now Is Not The Time

Before you read this, please go sign this petition to force South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse.

Every time we have a mass shooting or a terrorist event (let us not pretend that last nights massacre in Charleston was not a a terrorist attack) the conversation immediately begins about the availability of weapons in our 'civilized' society. As soon as those conversations begin, a pundit or politician will say, "This is a time for mourning, not a time to politicize a tragedy." Every time there is a blatant racist event in America that demands our attention and a respectful and meaningful dialogue, we are told the same.

I call bullshit.

I am here to tell you that if anything ever happens and I am in a massacre by a mad gunman, I hope that every person in America has a quiet moment with their conscience about the political causation of my death. This little motherfucker who slaughtered the parishioners in their own church after having spent an hour praying with them had a political motivation. And the fact that he had unlimited access to weapons was a direct result of our own political failures.

After Sandy Hook we had an opportunity to take a good hard look at how we found ourselves in a place where a school full of babies could be terrorized and 20 of them murdered by a man with access to assault rifles. It was the holidays. It was a tragedy for their city and for the nation. And we were repeatedly reminded and shamed about not talking about the fact that the man who committed this heinous act should have never had access to those weapons.

A week to the day after the slaughter of these children, four days before Christmas, Wayne LaPierre, one of the most vile creatures in all of America and EVP of the NRA (National Rifle Association), made a public statement to the parents of these children:

"gun-free school zones attract killers [and] "the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws, and fill the national media with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action." He said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," and that debating legislation that won't work would be a waste of time. He called on Congress "to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation" so that every school in America would be safe when pupils returned to school in January 2013. 

So if the country is now supposed to have a thoughtful debate, it just became wholly irrational as these words came from the leader of one side (leader via lobbying money) who was speaking to the parents of murdered children.

The day of the shooting in New Town, Connecticut, a petition was started on-line to urge Congress to address the issues of gun violence receiving hundreds of thousands of signatures. The same day the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence received a flood of donations. Just after Congress went back to work, on January 24, 2013, a bill was submitted which addressed many issues the nation had been discussing and specifically wanted to go back to banning assault rifles and getting rid of loopholes for people who were able to get around having a background check before buying weapons.

This new proposal was widely supported among Americans and many believed it did not go far enough to curb the violence in our society. Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who had been nearly murdered in 2011 when 6 others were killed by a lone gunman who was inspired by a 'hit list' devised by Sarah Palin of people who were against the gun lobby and needed to be removed from their jobs, did a national ad campaign urging the Senate to pass the new bill. They did not.

In the ad Giffords asked, "What is Congress afraid of?" Briefly, they are afraid of pissing off the NRA and being knocked off of their list of those who must be re-elected by the ammosexuals in our country who are using their weapons and their Second Amendment rights to bully them into doing their bidding. I'd say mass shootings are pretty political. And I would say that anyone who tells you otherwise just after one has occurred, really could not give a shit about the lives that had just been lost. Period.

Not only do we allow ourselves to ignore any solutions for these issues, but we disallow ourselves conversations about what exists in our society that allows for such a pervasive hatred as is being attributed to the killer in South Carolina. He was a white supremacist. He was affiliated with a type of hate that I had never even heard of which took his contempt all the way back to Africa. When I started hearing about this insane ideology I was absolutely dumbstruck. But only for a moment. I spend a lot of time on social media, remember? I run into extreme hate every time America is given another reason to have serious dialogue around race. Before you can even get to Twitter to check for updates a hashtag has been started to condemn those who were killed and tell anyone who is interested that the death was, most certainly, the fault of the unarmed black victim. Even when we have video.

I cried a face full of tears a couple of weeks ago when people were talking shit about Tamir Rice's mother. They had determined (by way of the talking heads who give them all of their talking points) that the child deserved to die because his mother hadn't taught him the appropriate way to play with a gun. Have a quiet moment with that. How should a child play with a gun? Well you had better figure it out lest your own child be slaughtered by a police officer who can justify it with an aside and a meme.

Today is the time to talk about racism. The racists talk about it all the time. They have radio shows and cable television channels with the word 'news' in the title to justify and reignite their racism daily. But people who would really not have to think about it just ignore it and tell themselves that those are just the crazy people in the country. Well, we are ignoring them. And they are not going away. Their movement is growing. They have their very own political movement that has hijacked one of our two major political parties. And they are the only people that the many candidates on that side are talking to during their campaigns.

The talking heads on the far right are terrifying. I beg you to follow this link and understand that there are many people who believe this. This piece of shit has a following on a nationally syndicated radio show. Last summer two people went on a shooting rampage that he inspired. They left Tea Party and Nazi flags on the dead bodies when they were done.

It is very important that people educate themselves about why things are happening. It is not a coincidence that the exact same people who spew abhorrent racial rhetoric are the same ones who demand a very extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment and their right to carry their weapons anywhere they want. Things are not going to get better until we understand where it is coming from and demand it stop. It is easy enough to shut up Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Michael Savage, etc. Limbaugh is already having a hard time and looks like he might be on his way out because a glorious group of actual patriots have been tirelessly campaigning against his advertisers. If more people would understand what is going on and become even minimally involved in demanding more of ourselves, we would be on our way. As it stands, having our heads buried in the sand is benefiting no one.

We are ignoring and accepting a violent and passionate demand for access to lethal weapons by the most unstable among us. And we are ignoring and accepting absolute hatred and racism from those very same people. And we are ignoring and accepting that they have a very influential political movement that is presently driving our policy.

I saw something on Twitter today that gave me pause. I hope you will have the same revelation. Tea Party darling, Governor Nikki Haley, made a teary statement today regarding the massacre last night. A poignant response was asked, "Will South Carolina fly its Confederate flag at half-staff today?"


  1. I most strongly concur with everything mentioned above. People need to become more aware and informed of what truly is happening. The time for change has long come and passed. We need change. Protect our people.

    1. It really is a tragedy that it continues. And sadder still, even the President acknowledged the power and influence the NRA has.

  2. It is time that we understand what the Founding Fathers wrote about guns: They were for the national defense and the be kept in a armory. Nowhere is it written that they were to be stored in private homes. Guns that were allowed to citizens were those use to bring game (pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, deer, etc) to the table--not shoot worshipers.

  3. The republic walks an uncomfortable path divided by guns. Half our population understand the words the Founders wrote, intending to leave muskets in the hands of responsible citizens that they could provide for their tables, and to defend themselves from external aggression by the formation of militias.

    Half our population remain mired in the foul assumption that even today in a civilized, connected world, they need to defend hearth and home from the unknown, from strangers, from their neighbors and friends, from other's children, and even from their own. It is these people who propagate firearm violence in our nation.

    The greatest threat to the republic today is not from terrorism sponsored beyond our shores, but from that whose roots are nurtured deep in our own racist past. The threat grows out of the American Civil War, out of the Ku Klux Klan, out of Naziism, out of hatred and distrust of anyone not Caucasian, Christian, Conservative, or of Confederate origin.

    Guns are a symptom, indeed the most dangerous one, but only a symptom. Religion is the cancer that feeds virtually all other American hate groups. Religion establishes an 'Us versus Them' paradigm wherein anyone not a "believer" is castigated and ostracized for not believing the same way. Religion and greed established slavery. Religion, hate, and greed feed apartheid and segregation. Religion, especially that based on the Old Testament, Koran, or Torah, teaches that one group of people have been "chosen" to rule over others or is given "dominion" over them and the Earth. From that point, sketchy links are made from dominion to the need to protect themselves from everything and everyone else to believing that everything and everyone else wishes them ill and covets that which they have. For them, the firearm becomes the weapon of choice by which to protect themselves from the evil which besets them. Their religions teach them that evil swims in the very air, surrounding them every moment of every day. Fear is the fuel for both religion and hate, and it should be no surprise that they go hand in hand. Where fear prevails, hatred becomes its mate.

    So long as religion remains dominant in our land, guns will, too. So long as guns remain a fixture in our society, religion will also. In our American cultural psyche, guns and religion are inextricably intertwined: You cannot diminish the one without diminution of the other.

    Until we solve that conundrum - and we will - gun violence is a choice that we consciously allow.

    1. Thank you. I hope you are right out our being able to solve it. And I sure hope its soon.