So we don’t need to get into the news of the last few weeks, I think. If you have two eyes and two ears, you know business as usual has occurred around America: One long blood-curdling scream along with some baseball.
While the Mets were dropping a series to the Giants in San Francisco, I was scrolling through Twitter in the aftermath of the elementary school massacre in Uvalde and seeing every politician react. I have a serious interest in our politicians; they work for us, after all. It may not seem like they do, and in fact, many of them straight up don’t. But someone’s got to keep tabs on them, for God’s holy sake.
No surprise, of course: Every loudmouthed Republican member of Congress (Marco Rubio, Tom Massie, Ted Cruz, Laurie Boebert, Marge Greene, to name a handful) talked about everything except gun legislation. They talked about hardening school security. They talked about mental health. They talked about meds, arming teachers, more police officers, the tragedy, the loss, the heartache, and so on.
Now, disclaimer: Of course Uvalde’s tragic. Of course Buffalo’s tragic. Of course Columbine, Parkland, the subways attacks, Hialeah, El Paso, Dayton, Pulse, Mandalay Bay, San Bernardino were all tragic. I don’t mean to be facetious here but I’m just trying to name mass shootings off the top of my head and there have been so many over the past several years that I’m having trouble processing them. Every mass shooting is a tragedy. Hell, it doesn’t need to be a mass shooting to be a tragedy. You fire a gun at another person because most likely something tragic has happened to cause you to discharge your weapon. More tragic things will follow.
But getting back to the politicians: As soon as the press questioned them about gun control legislation, regardless of what other solutions they offered, how much they bashed Democrats for doing nothing, or how many times they used the tragedy as a front for political points, the Republican politicians answered something along the lines of: “Let’s not get into politics.”
Let me offer some alternatives to this tired phrase. “I don’t want to get political.” “Let’s not politicize a tragedy.” “We don’t talk politics.” “The other side loves to politicize.” “We aren’t here to get political about this.” And so on and so on until entropy eats entropy and vomits it back up and eats it again.
Of course anyone in the pocket of the gun lobby, the Second Amendment rights activists, and the far-right conservative cabal will default to this excuse whenever someone brings up gun control. Other countries have strict but reasonable gun legislation and their homicides by gun violence pale in comparison to what goes on in the United States. Yet folks continue to claim that gun control will destroy the nation because our Founding Fathers wrote into our Constitution that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” They love to shout those last four words. “SHALL! NOT! BE! INFRINGED!” It’s a war cry to ’em. Thirsty for blood, aren’t they.
“We don’t wanna get political.” Everything’s political. Politics means “the affairs of the cities.” It comes from the Greek words for “city” and “citizen”. If you live in any sort of organized community – a city, a town, a village, a hamlet – you have politics afoot. The only way you can not get political is if you live by yourself off the grid, grow your own food, make your own clothes, and craft your own shelter. The minute you get involved with other folks, you get into politics. Surprise, idiot. It’s not as easy as it looks to not get political.
Here’s another example of folks not wanting to get political. In Texas, there was a press conference about Uvalde. Present were Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Ted Cruz, and many other Texas politicians, officials, and citizens. As Abbott was about to pass the mic to Patrick, Beto O’Rourke got up and said: “The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing.”
The Texas officials on the dais then said, “You know, Beto, you’re right. In fact, we’re all going to march on Washington and demand that Congress pass gun control legislation right now.” Ha ha ha. I’m kidding. They didn’t do that. Instead Greg Abbott pretended he wasn’t there, law enforcement came to escort Beto out, some folks in the audience booed at Beto, and Patrick yelled that he was a “sick son of a bitch to come to a place like this to make a political issue.”
Buddy, Dan, you’re a sick son of a bitch for not realizing that this was a political issue the minute it came into existence! Everyone sitting on that stage was trying to score political points for just showing up and saying some words that they hoped would make people feel good. Beto showed up and said something that mattered and they hung him out to dry. He was political. They were political. Everything about anything that’s happened in the minutes, hours, and days after school kids and teachers were slaughtered has been political, and I hate to say that because it sounds craven, but it’s tough to view this whole situation as anything but just that.
So we can mourn. We can try to heal. We can’t ignore that fact that this tragedy and all other tragedies are political. Any time someone says that they “don’t want to get political,” it means they just don’t want to face a hard truth that might cause them to change their beliefs even if they’re wrong. Gun control legislation has proven successful in curbing massive violence. But the more firearms fanatics avoid that fact and continue to scream about the Second Amendment, the longer it will take for us to do anything to stop the suffering speeding up to a fever pitch in this country. Gun control isn’t unconstitutional; what’s unconstitutional is people – kids and adults – continuing to die while people say “We don’t want to get political.”
It’s too late, folks: You got political the minute you woke up that day. And whether you know that or not, saying “Let’s not get into politics” really means “You’re being a pain in my ass right now.” Oh, you poor thing.