No More “Home of the Brave”
Over a week after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the nation is still scratching its head and engaging in the post-tragedy “how the hell did THAT happen” analysis from politicians grappling at every solution EXCEPT “we need more gun control”, because the NRA gives them about $100 million in campaign financing.
Every time there’s a mass shooting, the usual excuses are dragged out — hollywood, music videos, violent rap..even though movies, video games and rap are available in the UK, Japan, or any number of countries where citizens AREN’T at risk of getting mowed down every time they go to a church, concert, post office, mall, workplace, school, college campus, etc.
Meanwhile, because this shooting bucked all the previous ones in that there was not a single clue beforehand that Stephen Paddock was capable of such a heinous act, the media has been running with the “he was just a guy” theory (which stands in sharp contrast to the “he was a thug from birth” position they usually take when an innocent black citizen is shot down by a cop.)
Sadly, though, I haven’t seen a whole lot of pointing out the obvious — that we’re really the only country where this HAPPENS, so perhaps we would be well served to learn some lessons from other countries. Forbes magazine is one of the few media outlets willing to address this point, with this article about how Australia effectively ended mass shootings with implementation of strict gun control laws. It only took one really bad mass shooting in Port Arthur, in which 35 people died (which now looks like amateur night, compared to Paddock’s casualty toll of 60 dead and over 500 injured) to shock and horrify them into changing their laws.
Here’s the big difference between us and Australia, though. Australia doesn’t have the NRA controlling its government. Here in the U.S. ONE of our two political parties (the GOP) is “effectively an organ of the NRA” (according to journalist Mike Spies, who was recently interviewed on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”) Why won’t anything change here? The first reason is MONEY and the corruption of our political system by gun manufacturer/NRA campaign donations to the Republican party. So long as the GOP controls our legislature, presidency and Supreme Court..nothing will happen to stop this insanity.
The second reason is cultural, and transcends even the honored and sacred Second Amendment.
Many of my European and Canadian friends can’t figure out why Americans are such gun fetishists and gun HOARDERS. “Why do you guys need so many guns?” A friend of mine in the UK asked me. Stephen Paddock owned almost 50 guns. My friends in other countries can’t see why we don’t change our laws so that only ONE gun is allowed — because in their view, that’s really all you need for hunting or protection.
The problem is that Americans have become so goddamned afraid.
In fact, I’m proposing that we change the Star Spangled Banner, the song everyone is pissed off about simply because some athletes refuse to stand up for it and worship a piece of cloth made in China. I don’t think we have the right to call ourselves the “home of the brave” anymore. Instead, that lyric should be “home of the perpetually fearful and easily manipulated.”
It’s time we take a hard look at why so many Americans think they need to be armed to the teeth. Just remember Trump’s rhetoric during his presidential campaign. Mexicans were “bad hombres” and rapists. Muslims are all ISIS terrorists, trying to subvert white Christianity by imposing sharia law on everyone (never mind that American Christians’ favored policies are as close to sharia law as you can get — discrimination against gays..oppression of women, etc.) I’m pretty sure 63 million Americans voted for an incompetent, sexist, racist reality star mainly because of fear.
And once Trump was elected, it’s not like he stopped playing to the fearful, either. His inauguration address used such bleak terms to describe us that I thought he was watching a horror movie instead of the news. Because Barack Obama left us in a much better condition than when he found us. You wouldn’t know that from listening to Trump, however. We are a “nation in decay” and everything in this country is the “WORST.” NAFTA was the WORST agreement. The ACA is the WORST health law. And of course, like any authoritarian, wannabe dictator, Trump is the only one who can fix it.
I’m not trying to solely blame Trump for the fear mongering and xenophobia, however. It’s been happening on the right for a long time now. According to many Republicans, transgender people are creeping into public bathrooms on the regular and molesting your daughters. Lesbians and gays are the cause of every natural disaster because even though “God” made them sexually attracted to their own sex, he hates their lifestyle. Black Lives Matter and “Antifa” are terrorists in hoodies lobbing molotov cocktails at those poor “fine people” who choose to march with Nazis.
Fox News and other right wing media sources amplify the fear with bright graphics and scary music. We have so many boogeymen here in the U.S. to be afraid of, apparently.
And none of this shit they brainwash these right wing sheep to fear IS ACTUALLY A REAL THREAT.
REALITY CHECK FOR THE RIGHT:
Statistically, Americans have WAY less risk of dying at the hands of those Muslim refugees Trump wants us to fear (3 billion to 1), than dying from any number of really rare causes. Americans are 29 times more likely to die from a regional asteroid strike, 260 times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning, 4,700 times more likely to die in an airplane or spaceship accident, and 6.9 million times more likely to die from cancer or heart disease (read more here).
Transgender people are more likely to be prey themselves — according to the Human Rights Campaign, 21 transgender people have been killed this past year. This may seem like a small number, but given their representation in the general population, it’s appalling. Trust me..transgender people are too busy trying to stay alive to threaten your kids in Target restrooms.
Mexicans are too busy picking the crops you put on your table and making shit wages to do all the jobs no natural-born citizen wants to do, to push drugs on you or rape you. And now that Trump is deporting so many of them in a racist attempt to make America whiter, many farms are suffering.
Antifa are simply anti-Trump activists trying to keep Trump and neo-Nazis from destroying our way of life and putting every non-white, non-straight non-“christian” person in concentration camps. Right wingers are too dumb, apparently, to realize that standing against fascism IS ACTUALLY A GOOD THING.
Meanwhile, 93 AMERICANS ARE KILLED BY GUN VIOLENCE DAILY. For every person killed by a gun, TWO MORE ARE INJURED. (For more gun violence statistics go here)
So, ONE THING WE SHOULD ALL REALISTICALLY BE AFRAID OF — being killed by one of our fellow citizens with a firearm — ISN’T BEING ADDRESSED. And we’re REALLY ignoring women’s death toll from being shot by intimate partners or ex-significant others. 50 women a month are shot to death by someone they were married to or dated.
Meanwhile, the NRA blames Hollywood for “fetishizing firearms.” Yes..the organization that put together THIS video that makes liberals look like the biggest, most dangerous threat to the republic, who should consequently probably be SHOT..is actually trying to get us to blame mass shootings on the MOVIES.
Here’s just a snippet of the transcript of the NRA’s video going after its (and Donald Trump, their greatest ally’s) critics:
“They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. And then they use their ex-president to endorse “the resistance.”
All to make them march. Make them protest. Make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia. To smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding — until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.
And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.
I’m the National Rifle Association of America. And I’m freedom’s safest place.”
That’s it — America! It’s not guns you need to be afraid of! It’s those gun grabbing liberals!
I suppose that even if we found out Stephen Paddock SAW this video and was trying to assassinate the NRA’s enemies, we’d still do nothing about the gun lobby’s unchecked powers.
One unintentional effect of the epidemic of gun violence in our country, however, is that as the number of people affected by gun violence continues to grow, so too does the strength of groups actively fighting the NRA.
So..what do you think will happen next? Do you think maybe the U.S. is finally so tired of innocent people dying that maybe we’ll a) try to shut down the NRA?, b) storm the halls of Congress and demand that the GOP start looking out for its constituents, instead of gun manufacturers? or c) just plod along — business as usual — until the NEXT MASS SHOOTING, and the next round of tweeted “thots and prayers”..?
If you want the answer, follow the greed. And the fear. They are literally killing us.
To see how much money YOUR representatives have taken from the NRA, go here.