Updated: May 28
I've bravely fought a severe chest infection. A very nasty, but stubborn virus has found its way into the deep tissue of my thoracic cavity. However, I am putting in place a fairly good fight, but this virus has made the stay of this unwelcome guest in my body as unpleasant as possible. During the long battles, I often felt weak and tired trying to give a courageous face to a conflict that was otherwise horrific. There is an ongoing conflict outside the world where shame and regret, don't describe the craziness of radical right-wing politicians trying to erase history, trample constitutional rights, and squash dissenting minority voices. Let us not forget that owning a firearm would be easier.
I was going to write and still might about the historic indictment of a former American president. As news media outlets followed the lead-up to the former President's arraignment, I couldn't help but wonder why all the attention for a twice-impeached and one-term president, especially when the prevailing subtext for his arrest and arraignment involved 30+ count charges of fraud and albeit hush payment to a porn star. The news blitz to follow the car caravan escort to and from the Manhattan District Court House was certainly boring but worthy of news at the same time. Because in this current era of political uncertainty and call for violence by the former President, anything could happen during a car travel to a courthouse. After all, this was the first time in our country’s history that a former president was arrested and indicted before a judge. However, somewhere between listening to news pundits, political experts, and an array of former prosecutors, that a very corrupt businessperson and reluctant politician was somehow brought in to answer for his crimes but perhaps not the crimes imagined by many he should answer for just seemed mundane. Even the leftist and centric media and their invited analysts offered the least striking look, and the soft touch as to the allegedly less-than-concrete case against the former president.
I would like to talk about what is happening in Tennessee. I mean the whole thing. We have so much to unpack. I want to start with the mass shootings. The Gun Violence Archive reports that more than 100 mass shootings have taken place this year. Yes, another mass shooting, like the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, in a country that supposedly has democratic and legal ideals. An incredibly rich nation, yet impoverished in its treatment of women, minorities, and school-aged children. A nation that disagrees about the priorities of the government. A country where it is easier to buy a handgun and get a concealed gun permit than it is to drink alcohol legally. Tennessee had a mass shooting involving six lives at a Christian school. The shooter shot more than 150 bullets. He had lawfully acquired seven weapons. SEVEN WEAPONS!
The six victims consisted of three children aged nine and three adults in their sixties. The deaths caused by gun violence are threatening to normalize due to the horrific increase in the number of deaths. Even if a quick solution to gun violence in schools is unrealistic, the current approach of doing nothing and pushing it aside is failing our children, our teachers, our parents and our families. We have a potential generation of children being brought up in trauma as elected government officials and 2024 promising candidates prepare for the National Rifle Association conference this week in Indianapolis. Former Vice President Pence said, "But we've got to stand on those God-given liberties enshrined in our constitution, and the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the second amendment of the constitution."1 Ironically, the Tennessee mass shooting was at a Christian school which questions invoking of religion and constitutional rights. For example, the Constitution protects people's right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech.
Tennessee families and loved ones mourned this week after six people were killed by firearms. Along with a shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, at a bank, the Tennessee mass shooting continued the long line unkept elected officials' promises to do better, politicians offering thoughts and prayers, and law enforcement pledges create gun-free safety zones. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, and many other communities have seen their fair share of anguish, hurt, and pain diminished by government in-action on gun reform. When a mass shooting occurs at a school that same ache and sorrow is resurrected each time as another community endures that similar pain of loss and grief. Is the Republican plan to ground this country into grieving despair? Schoolchildren organized protests this week by organizing marches, "die-ins" students scattered on the ground in simulated death, and strong rallies against armed violence. The news media covered these protests but what action if any will take place once the cameras have disappeared.
Last week, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to expel, for the first time in Tennessee's history, two black representatives for violating etiquette. A third white and female violator did not receive disciplinary action. The 3 Tennessee lawmakers were protesting using bullhorns on the floor over gun violence. Oddly enough, the Republican majority took action against the two black elected legislators. This repulsive action against representatives of both states provokes historic racist attacks in a state where the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) was founded. The majority of members of the Republican Chamber of Representatives have changed their strategy. He used his traditional tool of racism to exercise his political weight [God's white freedom of power] by taking away the voices of thousands of minority voters. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson represented their communities in the Chamber of Representatives because that is what their communities demanded. Deeper still. The Republican House of Representatives rejected thousands of minority votes by voting the expulsion of the two young representatives of the black state. Fortunately, both men were brought back to their acting positions by their communities. The Republican House of Representatives underestimated the determination of both young black men and the response of the communities. I believe their attempt to exert political power and put the audacious black state lawmakers in their place only awakened communities and fellow gun safety groups to their attack on democracy. The gual and the subversive behavior of politicians disregarding minorities and taking their political voice away by expulsion of black Tennesse lawmakers has failed. However, this action in Tennessee and the recent law on concealment permits adopted in Florida remind many minority voters of the flawed system of democracy and failure by government to hold offenders accountable.
"...you can't expel hope. You can't expel justice. You can't expel our voice. And you sure can't expel our fight." Justin Pearson
There have been a lot of developments in Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida this week. But every day, throughout the country, republican-controlled states like Florida are redoubling their efforts by suppressing women's rights, increasing access to weapons, and using systemic racist tactics to improve and maintain power. There is a pervasive belief from the right that authoritarian rule is better than any liberal majority. This misconception which pushes the radical right to control and dominate has a considerable cost for all. Look at Tennessee and the carnage of sorrow, desperation and political despair. We could do better. Last year, firearms manufacturers made tremendous financial gains through record sales. Let us suppose that people are buying weapons in droves. In that case, police departments are getting more and more military equipment, and law enforcement continues to shoot and kill minorities in record numbers; then, what is the point of having a tax-supported police department selectively choosing which communities to protect and allowing citizens to carry and conceal weapons openly? Police are supposed to have a duty of care but they care less or not at all when the community and citizen is a minority. Police feel threatened? They qualified immunity with a license to kill. I'm the one threatened when those blue lights flash. Police are armed to the teeth and protected by the "blue line", flak vests, and weapons. Similarly, the Republicans do not want an attacked Ukraine to receive military assistance to help defend against Russian aggression but it is acceptable that the person at the end of the street has seven guns under the bed while children play unaware outside. Upon his return, black Tennessee lawmaker Justin Pearson gave a passionate speech and said, "[they] can't expel hope." I hope he is right because I'm struggling to understand the lack of empathy and humanity towards fellow human beings in distress and the lack of compassion towards innocent school children dying from gun violence. Add to the belief that climate change and racism is not real, Republicans are the majority of the chorus that doesn't believe mental health is neither real nor important. Tennessee shooter was under care for emotional health.
May God continue to bless this country and grant the wisdom to do better. Please write your representatives and demand change to gun control laws. The argument for limited to no gun control being a second amendment right is weak compared to the same constitutional rights of freedom of speech because those same political officials and candidates pandering to NRA voters have no problem opposing minorities right to vote and taking away women rights over their own bodies. Stop the violence and pass laws for gun control like other industrial countries have like New Zealand and Great Britain. Greed is powerful but so is the voice of the people! Say something and do something.
1. Former VP Mike Pence on recent mass shootings, Indy NRA convention and .... https://fox59.com/indianapolitics/former-vp-mike-pence-on-recent-mass-shootings-indy-nra-convention-and-a-potential-presidential-bid/