Tuesday, March 28, 2023

American Exceptionalism

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
As I've said so often after a momentous event in US or world history, there are often iconic images that are taken at those precise moments or their immediate aftermath that become symbolic of that event. There's Alfred Eisenstaedt's immortal photograph taken on VJ Day at Times Square, one that expressed the relief and joy of a nation at the end of a four year-long war. And, six months before that, Joe Rosenthal's equally immortal photograph of the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
   The lead image you see above is fast becoming the iconic photograph of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville yesterday. It perfectly expresses a child's horror and grief at having visited on her unimaginable and senseless violence when all she wanted to get was an education. When you look at the faces of survivors of school shootings, they always have that same look no matter the location- Disbelief that this has finally happened to them.
     Even though we're just 87 days into 2023, this has already been the 33rd school shooting. We've had over 130 so far this year. Brady United, which compiles such statistics, defines a mass shooting as when there are four or more injuries or deaths not including the shooter. The one in this case, a transgender man named Audrey or Aiden Hale, murdered three small children and three faculty members before being shot and killed by Nashville police (Warning: explicit video).
      Here are the facts, in case you're not already acquainted with them:
    The United Kingdom hasn't had a mass school shooting since 1997, Bill Clinton's first term. Australia hasn't seen a mass shooting since they enacted strict gun control laws after the Port Arthur shooting in 1996, and that was with a conservative Parliament and Prime Minister. The United States is the only country in which there are more guns than people (over 400,000,000 for 330,000,000.) And even though we make up just 4% of the world's population, we own roughly 45% of the world's guns.
     We're the only developed, industrialized nation on earth that allows its citizens to carry and brandish military-grade assault-style weapons whether it's open carry or concealed and often without permits or proper training. 45,000+ Americans die from gun violence every year and at the rate we're going, we'll perhaps top 50,000 by New Year's Eve. That's enough to fill Yankee Stadium. And, most tragically, we're the only nation on earth where the leading cause of death among children is gun violence, overtaking car accidents or disease.
     Plainly, more guns and easier access to them and ammunition is not the answer. Eliminating safety training, creating loopholes in the background check process and lowering the age so kids barely 18 years-old can buy AR15s is also not the answer. We learned that after Uvalde and which came about thanks to the Texas legislature's and Greg Abbott's murderous initiatives.

But It's All About the Kids

Yesterday's Christian school shooting came about almost exactly two years to the day since Gov. Bill Lee signed a sweeping gun deregulation bill essentially allowing Tennesseans to carry whatever gun they like whether open carry or concealed even without a permit or federal restrictions, which don't exist, by the way. We don't even have a national registry, unlike many other industrialized nations.
    And in the wake of every school shooting, you can count on Republicans like Steve Scalise to say that grabbing guns aren't the answer (Despite Australia's own gun buyback program that took 565,000 guns off the streets in '96 that greatly contributed to them not having another mass shooting since that year) and fake macho men like Ken Buck challenging Joe Biden to come to his office to take his own AR. 
     Or we hear asshats like Tim Burchett who seem to think the answer is more prayer and a Christian revival (I guess he didn't get the memo from the NRA that Nashville shooting took place in a Christian charter school in which prayers, as usual, didn't make a lick of difference). Or to come across a picture of Andy Ogles, in whose district the shooting occurred, posing with guns drawn with his family.
    No, right wingers want to distract you from the real root cause of gun violence, such as lack of prayer in the schools, mental illness and gun free zones. Then they turn around after waxing piously about protecting our children while they ban Critical Race Theory and books in libraries.
     Because it's all about the kids, you see.
    According to Nashville Police Chief John Drake, Audrey Hale was able to legally buy seven weapons from five different locations while under a doctor's care for emotional issues. Just based on HIPAA regulations and doctor-patient confidentiality, the police can't very well be knowledgeable on who's getting psychiatric care and for what. So, to know who the likeliest candidates for gun violence are would virtually require that HIPAA laws be violated.
    Again, we are the only country that refuses to ban guns but is fanatical about banning books and critical race studies that simply aren't taught in K-12. Republicans are absolutely obsessed with making sure the kids don't learn about slavery or Rosa Parks or the Civil Rights Movement or about teh gays and that especially goes for you RuPaul types and your grooming drag time story hours.
     Because it's all about the kids. At least, the ones that are still above ground.


At March 29, 2023 at 11:37 AM, Anonymous CC said...

Too bad Scalise's assailant didn't see his guns grabbed from him before he went on a rampage.

Which shows us: even if one of their own is shot, Republicans won't budge from their pro-gun stance.


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