The giant elephant of the week was the Uvalde school shootings. There isn’t anything I could write about this that would make it more comprehensible to myself, let alone anyone else. I wish I could believe that this time will be different. That this time the majority of the country will take a stand and face down the gun industry, the NRA and the toxic masculinity that has brought us to this place. Maybe it will happen but I am in a believe it when I see it mode.
I read a number of articles that had meaningful, worthwhile things to say about the latest in a long line of tragedies.
This article in The Atlantic confirms what I believe, that nothing is likely to change any time soon that will restrict access to any kind of gun in any meaningful way:
The most important thing you need to know about yesterday’s tragic school shooting in Texas is that absolutely no laws are going to change as a result of it.
In the 14 years since the Supreme Court found an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment in the landmark case of D.C. v. Heller, the federal judiciary has only grown more conservative. The courts will likely bar any meaningful restrictions on the possession of firearms for at least another generation.
We all need to adjust to the idea that unfathomable levels of gun violence, including school shootings, are going to get worse, not better, in the decades to come.
This is America, folks. This is who we are.
The author offers some suggestions about putting more funding into responsible gun handling training. He also suggests that we need to get to work on the culture that has evolved which treats military weapons as fetishistic objects through which masculinity is confirmed. Personally, I think that culture will die if the mostly white patriarchy goes the way of the dinosaur as it well may, or may not. That story is being written as I write.
This article, also from The Atlantic, identifies a lack of collective determination by a majority of the population who haven’t made gun legislation a priority, for whatever reason, in their voting:
Most of us are appalled. But not enough of us are sufficiently appalled to cast our votes to halt it. And those to whom Americans entrust political power, at the state and federal levels, seem determined to make things worse and bloodier. In the next few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will deliver its opinion in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, a decision that could strike down concealed-carry bans even in the few states that still have them. More guns, more places, fewer checks, fewer protections: Since Sandy Hook, this country has plunged backward and downward toward barbarism.
Whether any particular killer proves to be a racist, a jihadist, a sexually frustrated incel, or a randomly malignant carrier of sorrow and grief, can Americans ever break the pattern of empty thoughts, meaningless prayers, and more and worse bloodshed to follow?
Infuriatingly, the gun industry was aware of the direction they were heading as they embraced, after 911, and especially after Barrack Obama’s election, America’s turn towards a militaristic gun culture. What used to be relegated to the dingy corners of gun conventions and shows became ubiquitous and mainstream. Profit motive overtook common sense in ways not unlike the cigarette industry. This article, written by an ex gun industry executive relates that story:
This delicate balance started to erode as Barack Obama rose in the polls beginning in 2007. People like me who sensed the impending danger of this shift towards extremism were shouted down. When beloved industry icons raised concerns, even going so far as to label AR15s as “terrorist rifles,” their careers were immediately terminated. Time and again, these alarms were raised, and time and again, the sound of fundraising hauls, election night parties, and cash registers at the gun counters drowned them out.
Coming as a small light of hope in the wilderness is the willingness of major professional sport franchises to speak openly against gun violence and in favor of gun safety regulations:
But this evening the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays announced they would use their social media channels not to cover tonight’s game but to share facts about gun violence. “The devastating events that have taken place in Uvalde, Buffalo and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable.”
Before the Uvalde school massacre unfolded and justifiably dominated the news cycle, another big story was unfolding. An investigative study on sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist world commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention broke and it was horrific. The nations largest religious organization was shown to be as deeply flawed as the Catholic Church in matters related to sexual abuse. The SBC scandal is more about the treatment of women than young boys but it underscores how the evangelical church has lost its way:
“I knew it was rotten, but it’s astonishing and infuriating. This is a denomination that is through and through about power. It is misappropriated power. It does not in any way reflect the Jesus I see in the scriptures. I am so gutted.”
And this article on the culture of conspiracy and cruelty of the Christian Right by David French also solidifies my dismal opinion of the Christian Right:
The Christian civility wars aren’t about competing essays crafted by the tweeting elite. They’re about the emergence, amplification, and valorization of an actual culture of conspiracy and cruelty on the Christian right.
Moving on to a topic that we need to pay attention to, but which commands little attention in the news cycle even without wars in Ukraine, pandemics and horrific massacres, robotics and the future of work:
When it comes to automation, we are in what John Maynard Keynes called the “painfulness of readjustment between one economic period and another.” The right policy response is not to interfere with or try to manage this transition from the top down but to incentivize thoughtful, human-centered adaptation, from both worker and employer standpoints. But with 11.5 million job openings (including close to one million manufacturing jobs) and just 5.9 million Americans looking for work, combined with renewed efforts to “re-shore” critical manufacturing, robots may prove to be less of a problem than part of the solution to the nation’s long-term labor shortage.
That will be it this week. Surprised I got anything at all together, I have been so much on the move. We are settled on Block Island for the next two weeks. Can you say Vacation?