The day the US celebrates romantic love, ( Valentines) begins a season of reflection and introspection (Lent) recognizes a great human being and human rights icon (Frederick Douglass) in the month reserved to acknowledge the contribution of Africans to the US, it was interrupted by a disturbed young man with a rifle. Nikolas Cruz’ murder of 17 of his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Broward County, Florida was a stark and blatant reminder of the most fitting and enduring American legacy: violence.
Not sure that the shooter was trying to send a message, but his shooting exposed the sham of living in a country that worships and loves nearly everything, except human beings, celebrating a holiday that involves love between human beings.
LOVE in the US may just as well be a four letter word, it is just another word used to turn a profit. Valentine’s Day brought in billions of dollars to the restaurant industry, the greeting card industry, jewelers, and retailers that sell chocolates, flowers and clothing.
Ironically on the day of the murders, Jim’s Firearms of Florida posted a tweet with a picture of two guns in a heart shaped velvet lined box that said “Give your significant other something they’ll appreciate this Valentine’s Day.”
Furthermore the turning of a profit is the primary reason that 17 families are grieving the loss of their loved ones in Parkland, Florida. Cruz bought his AR 15 rifle from a place called Sunrise Tactical Supply.
Oddly in Florida one cannot purchase a handgun until they are 21 but are allowed to purchase a rifle at the age of 18. This raises questions: why would anyone need an AR15 at eighteen and why would anyone consider this less a problem than selling a handgun?
The Miami Herald has reported that the owners of Sunrise Tactical Supply are grief stricken and filled with regret. But why would anyone sell an 18 year old a semi- automatic rifle? Just importantly why are semi-automatic weapons being sold to anyone? The answer: because it’s simply business, a way to make money. It is the “American Way”
And right on cue, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions lauded law enforcement. The ruling class never misses an opportunity to propagandize. “Law enforcement are putting their own lives at risk to save our children,” he said.
However the facts don’t support his contention. As is almost always the case in mass killings, the cops were of little use. The (SRO’s) on the premises of the high school never responded to the shooter. Neither did they act to prevent his entry to campus. This disturbed kid literally walked onto campus without anyone confronting him.
The shooting exposed yet again the myth that law enforcement exist to protect everyday people. This shooter had been reported, he had been flagged on YOU TUBE, but it wasn’t taken seriously because it had no propaganda use. The FBI has admitted that the shooters online threats to kill had been reported to them. But they ignored him, because their job is not law enforcement, but social and political propaganda and the reinforcement of the ruling class’ prejudices and stereotypes.
Had he been Black, or Muslim he would have been visited!
There will be a lot of sanctimonious talk about gun control and caring about children. But the power structure doesn’t care about children, which is why the present administration is attempting to deprive poorer children of basic health care and are proposing eliminating fruit and vegetables from their diet, if their parents are SNAP recipients. The government doesn’t even bother to make sure that all children are educated.
It was the former H Rap Brown who said that, “violence is as American as cherry pie.” And gun violence is even more American. The US was created through ethnic cleansing, terrorism, kidnapping and people stealing, all with the threat and the use of the gun.
Yet again there will be reluctance to enforce even minimal gun control legislation and some will say it’s “the price of freedom.” In actuality it’s the price paid by the working class for the insistence of those really in charge, (the point one percent) to allow the gun industry to continue to make huge profits, even when common sense suggests that some kind of regulation be put in place.
And the right wing will use the 2nd amendment to continue this charade and they will only be partly right. The 2nd Amendment when read correctly, actually opens the door for White slave owners to organize militias to put down revolts by their so-called human property. It also allowed for White Settlers to organize posse’s to disenfranchise the Indian population.
Gun control is not a part of the American settler experiment!
Throughout US history the federal government made little effort to enforce gun controls, when they did, they were put in place to limit gun ownership by Blacks and Natives. When the Black Panthers showed up in the California legislature with guns in 1967 some of the first modern gun restrictions were put in place and the NRA was nowhere to be found.
However, the surviving high school students have figured out the way forward. Many called out legislators in interviews, but the more astute students seemed to figure out that the US Congress is not going to do anything about gun violence and have no real interest in “real” gun control, partly because many are bought and paid for by the gun lobby. Some vowed to someday do it for themselves.
And they understand that this tragedy is indeed “about guns” as one of them tweeted while countering the right wing line, which places all the blame on the shooter.
A pastor was quoted saying, “This tragedy on Ash Wednesday reminds us of how marred and diseased we are by sin.” The pastor is only partly right; we are marred and victimized by a diseased SYSTEM. LENT is a time of self-reflection, self-examination and introspection. We ought to also examine the social/political/economic system we live under, and if we find it wanting, if we find it unwilling or unable to protect the people, fulfill their basic requirements for life and liberty (as this gun violence clearly reveals), we ought to toss it out like so much sin.
In the words of Douglass, “if there is no struggle there is no progress…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
justice then peace