I'm bracing myself for the next round of Muslim bashing from our right-wing extremist candidates, Trump, Christy, Cruz, Fiorina, Carson (if anyone is listening to him) and maybe even Marco Rubio, depending on what his handlers tell him to say. This group has become the drum beat of fear itself.
All we know about the two latest mass murderers is that they bought their assault weapons legally, as all of the above candidates agree is perfectly sound national policy. But these killers are Pakistani-American, which makes this mass killing stand above the others in the eyes of many. The last Mass Murderer of the Week was an anglo evangelical fanatic rambling about body parts, and who was a legally armed male who had alienated everyone in what seems to have been a misguided and reckless life. His last name, however, will not qualify him as a terrorist.
None of the above candidates are calling for a database of extreme right wing evangelicals, even though they have been picking off doctors who perform abortions, one by one, for years. White supremacists who murder black church goers and white young men who shoot school children don't qualify either.
During the Thanksgiving Holiday I shut off all the news channels and enjoyed my family. I did some Christmas shopping. I took a long walk in the country and breathed in the crisp Wisconsin air, and I ate and drank and made merry. I recently took a cross-country trip and was, as I always am, astounded by the beauty that is America and by the warm hearted people I meet along the way. Aren't we better than the hatred that is replacing rationale?
Now that I am back into what we call real life, I find myself with no patience for the attention-getters who are getting exactly what they want for saying outrageous things, things that awaken the worse in our society. I am tired of all of the pundits on all the networks, including MSNBC who gathered around Donald Trump as if he were a campfire early on, reporting his every word as if he were a prophet. Of course we need to know, but he got more airtime than anybody. They weren't "exposing" him, they were giving him publicity. I saw Chris Mathews interview Rick Santorum early this week and he gave Santorum free reign in putting forth his everybody-should-have-a gun philosophy, challenging him hardly at all. Is this what we do now on news shows, just give a forum to politicians who represent the NRA?
Mathews smiled warmly as the interview closed, as if he was happy to see his old, harmless friend again, but I think great harm has been done by people like Santorum. Why must we allow someone to tell us that "good guys" should carry guns into taverns, that guns and alcohol mix just like vodka and tonic, that if only more "good guys" had guns none of this stuff would happen.
Politicians, all of them, should be seriously challenged on their views. Oh, yeah. I forgot. Those are "gotcha" questions.
"Bad," mentally disturbed people and extremists can buy assault weapons because the NRA says so. Anybody can own an assault type weapon that can take a person's head off in a nano-second. All you have to do to get one is go to a gun show. (Does it come with dinner?) And you can even rent an assault weapon at a shooting range, as we learned when an eleven year old girl was allowed to pull the trigger of one such atrocious device and did indeed blow a head off someone's shoulders. Her parents are at fault, and should have been visited by Child Protective Services after their stupid decision, but she's the one who will live with their decision her whole life.
Where were the laws to protect that child from her parents and the people who run gun ranges that allow little kids to use guns that weigh more than they do? Even amusement parks are regulated to protect children. Where are the gun regulations?
Children must fend for themselves. Our answer to the help they so desperately need is to try them as adults when they go wrong.
What happened in San Bernardino was a terrorist act. So was Columbine. So was Sandy Hook. So was Virginia Tech. Ask anyone who has been involved in a mass shooting if they were terrorized. This shooting spree will get special attention from gun advocates because the shooters were Muslim, and that is the only extreme ideology we are asked to take seriously. But when you get hit by a bullet, do you care if the fanatic who shot you has an anglo name or not?
America is a wholesale marketplace for the NRA, who does not represent hunters nor does it represent the intent of the Second Amendment. It owns the congress, Democrat and Republican, and congress represents them. None of them have a spine when it comes to the kind of money the NRA is doling out. And it doesn't matter how many lives are ending in this kind of horrific violence. We will continue to sell ultra violent video games to children and assault weapons to them when they grow up. Go figure. Or not. Because we actually don't figure.
Rick Santorum does not make me smile.
Well, now it's time for the trumpets to begin to blow, arousing those who think they are the true Americans, demanding a Muslim database and more freedom to get more guns. The Trumpeter, who represents 27% of the Republican vote, and who will, if he wins then nomination, wipe out the last shred of decency and rationale that party once stood for. He will get all the media attention, who will hang on his every word as if, as Bill Maher so aptly put it, he's Winston Churchill.
Trump is most decidedly not Winston Churchill.
Meanwhile, I hold Parisians in the highest regard. And as I take my walk in the country amidst miles of farmland and silence, I think about courage and wonder if I have any. I know I don't have enough. It takes courage not to let fear possess you, lest you become a terrorist yourself, a person who does nothing to assuage the wave of hatred and fear created by cowardly people aiming to capitalize on it. Real courage, real character, that takes a different kind of effort. What matters and makes a difference takes a deeper understanding of what is wrong than what we get from big headed blowhards and news that never stops breaking.
Guns are dangerous in themselves. I won't own one. Television shows glamorizing them, which is appalling. In reality, people are volatile and passionate, not just good and bad. I could write a long list of shootings by people who would never had pulled the trigger but did so because a gun was handy. I knew one such person. Anger can overtake the best of us, not just the worst.
We need to ban assault weapons again, and silence the likes of Trump. We need to drown out his voice with something more rational and yes, humane. But who will cover it? What news outlet cares about our voices enough to give us equal air time?