I wish that were true, but this weekend proved otherwise — not once, but twice. How hollow those words are to the shooting victims whose families must now bury them. Women, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and just plain employees, working poor people. This must stop, but less than a few hours later, another shooting only four hours away in Dayton. How long before it is Louisville, Jeffersonville, or New Albany?
When will Clarksville know this carnage or God forbid any small towns in our area?
At least one gunman leaving a manifesto of hate. Of course, the NRA has weighed in and as usual is trying to breed fear and anger for those lefties. It is disgusting. People are dying here. Why did he own an assault style rifle? Why are we allowing such carnage? It is one thing to own your own weapons for hunting and personal safety, it is quite another to own assault weapons intended for war and mass destruction. We legislate life all the time. We aggressively pursue efforts to tell women what to do with their bodies while we protect the rights of crazed terrorists to attack us while we shop, while we listen to concerts, while we are in church. How do we deal with this?
Mulvaney, the President’s press secretary, spoke of how the manifesto specifically cited the gunman had felt this way far before the President was elected. I believe that. I have seen the face of hate and it is not instantaneous, it is insidious and it grows. It takes to time to become this intense. So the connection, when we disrespect life from the top down, when we mock the disabled, or label people who disagree with us, when we laugh at the thought of someone yelling “shoot them” while we make a speech and beg the question “what do we do with the Squad,” when we question whether 27 children really died at Sandy Hook — we breed and incorporate hate. It becomes more palatable.
The same thing happens when we criticize women who “asked for it” by dressing provocatively, or who happened to be at the wrong party. We make it OK for the women to be attacked, raped, disrespected, and we make excuses for the perpetrator. That is what they are, you know, perpetrators. Criminals, deviants, all the things we don’t want to think, and all the while we are slapping them on the hands and chuckling boys will be boys.
Words mean everything. They are powerful and they can sway. When one is as sick as the author of the manifesto (I refuse to name him), he doesn’t need much of an excuse to carry out a sick and horrid act. He was barely out of his teens; in a life that short, you have to wonder how that kind of hate grew and what did he go through really?
Leaders have to take a long look at themselves and ask how they can stop this train wreck. Mitch McConnell needs to get off his high horse and start acting like a seasoned Senator. He is sitting on some bills that would offer some reasonable measures of gun control. If we are tired of his games with our country, we all need to send support to his opponents. He is not just the Senator from Kentucky, he is the most powerful man in the country, and he is ignoring his duties as a Senator to play politics. We elect people to serve, not to build their private kingdoms.
I deal with a lot of “isms” in my life. Racism (yes, it is alive and well here), sexism (try being a woman who talks back), ageism (I am now in my 60s), the economic isms gripping our country between the haves and the have nots, and the cultural wars alive and well through NIMBY. They slap me upside the head once, twice, or sometimes more every day. We want to help those addicted, but not here; we want to help the homeless, just not here; and we want to feed the hungry, but not here. The list goes on and on.
The sad thing is that while there have been quieter times, it has permeated my life. I remember being at the Women’s March. It was so inspiring to know this is how our country works; we have the right to assemble and to speak our truths. But at the same time, when I saw groups protesting us, I have to admit I felt fear, I wandered if someone would start shooting. Thank God, they did not. But the fear and the crowd made me feel a vulnerability I hadn’t felt in a long, long time.
We have to reach back in this country and remember what we fought for way so many years ago. We have to remember what this country was; it was never a white country, never. So what is white nationalism? In America it should be nationalism — period. Brown, Black, White, Hispanic, Muslim, Asian, Indigenous people, African, Indian, that is who we are. “Give us your tired, your poor, your hungry”; those words used to mean something. With every parcel of who I am, I believe this country is so much better than we are right now. We need to stop. We need to breathe. We need to remember.
— Barbara Anderson, Jeffersonville, is executive director of Haven House Services Inc. Reach her by email firstname.lastname@example.org.