“Some people (some people), they never see the light
Until the day they die.” — Neil Diamond
Yesterday, the leaders of Texas and the GOP held one of their perfunctory press conferences. It was one of those deals where we decry the tragedy, offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims, and tell ourselves there was nothing that we could have done to prevent it. One of these is done by rote. One of these are empty. One is a lie. I’ll leave you to figure out which one.
Yesterday, the Democratic contender for the governor of Texas decided to interrupt the proceedings. His message was simple. The performance art on stage was exactly that. We know how to prevent these things. We knew it would happen. We know not the exact time or the exact place, but we knew it would happen. Then, he was given the message we all are given in this moment: you are politicizing a tragedy.
Beto wasn’t taking it and decided to cause a scene. I’m not sure if what he did will help or hurt his election chances. My gut tells me a few things. First, it tells me that 95 percent or more of the voting public has already made up their minds. My gut tells me most Texans agree with Beto and most Texans think Greg Abbott has been a disastrous governor. My gut tells me all of this won’t matter and that Abbott will somehow win the election anyway.
Yesterday morning, our daughter texted us from school. She was hiding in a closet in her Chemistry classroom. She was looking around for items to throw in case a gunman penetrated the classroom and the closet space. It was somewhere between 15 minutes and 30 minutes until the district and/or news organizations finally said everything was okay. Those were the longest 15 to 30 minutes of my life.
Earlier this year, they essentially lost two days to bomb threats. We went through the same cycle of worry, dread, and relief. These two events are cruel reminders that we don’t have the control we think we do. They are cruel reminders that all of this can end in the blink of an eye. They are cruel reminders that we can’t afford to wait until “the time is right” to politicize a mass shooting.
Unfortunately, there is always a mass shooting in the forefront of our brain. Maybe we can politicize Buffalo now. In Texas, maybe we can politicize Santa Fe now. Maybe we can politicize church shootings, mall shootings, theatre shootings, and concert shootings. Maybe someone should send out a rule. Maybe it could be a mandatory waiting period.
I say to hell with that. I am not going to lose my daughter because a right wing politician doesn’t want to somehow suppress the image of 20+ dead Texas children and teachers while they accept a check from the gun lobby. I am not going to lose my daughter because the NRA wants to have their show and advertise their wares on the same week as a mass shooting in their state. If you are going to have the audacity to do that then you will have to stomach all of it. You will have to stand there and tell the world that you care more about someone’s right to own an automatic weapon than about the lives of school children. I’m going to politicize every damn second of it.
Either lives matter or they don’t. Either you care about the safety and security of our children or you don’t. Either you have compassion for all of the people walking this Earth or you don’t. Certainly compassionate and caring adults can differ on policy. We are all adult enough to realize that. Compassionate and caring adults do not have a waiting period to solve a problem. If the floods are coming you don’t make people wait to develop solutions not to drown. When people are freezing to death you don’t tell them that heat is political and shouldn’t be discussed during the crisis. The notion is patently ridiculous. When our children are being blown away at school it is most definitely a crisis and it is most definitely political. We better talk about it right damn now before the next one of these happens again.