Ten days ago our country experienced another mass murder of school children, seventeen in total and two teachers in an elementary school in Texas. And ten days before that, in Buffalo, New York, ten more people were victims of a mass murder. In both cases, the murderer used an AR-15 assault rifle, designed to kill enemy combatants in wartime, and carried magazines that held hundreds of bullets.
In Buffalo the victims were Black and grocery shopping. In Texas the students were Latino elementary school children, many receiving honor roll awards that very day, while the tragedy took place only a few days before school let out for summer vacation. This week the bodies of the children began to be buried. One mother wept, saying “It was the most difficult thing in my life, picking out the last dress my daughter would ever wear.”
As I saw photos of the kids, some proudly holding their awards and saw interviews of some of the parents, tears rolled down my cheeks. I thought to myself I can’t write about this in a column with the banner “Laughing Matters.” And yet, given the absolute madness of it all, how can I not write about it? So, dear readers, for today, let’s pretend my column’s banner reads “No Laughing Matter.”
As I watched the mourning of family and friends of the deceased children and teachers, somehow I was reminded of Ronald Reagan’s famous 1984 presidential election commercial “It’s Morning in America.” For those who have forgotten or may not have even been born yet, the commercial is on YouTube.
The legendary one-minute video was pure over-the-top patriotism but given today’s one mass school shooting after another it looks like a very dark SNL parody. The difference between that America and now begs the question what kind of country has more mass shootings than days on the calendar (18 just since Uvalde), and why can’t we prevent these evil events?
A few days after the mass murder at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the financially bankrupt and scandal-ridden National Rifle Association held its 2022 National Convention in Houston less than 300 miles away. Perhaps because of the bad optics, Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick skipped the convention, although Abbott sent a prerecorded video.
Sounding unusually demented, Donald Trump mocked those who didn’t attend, “Unlike some others, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up today.” Though he often chastised Obama for using teleprompters, Trump used his to announce the names of each victim which was followed by a gong. Actually it sounded like the “Gong Show,” especially given Trump’s mispronouncing many of the kids’ names. It ended with Trump, a la Elaine on “Seinfeld,” doing an embarrassingly inept “happy dance” to the music as though he was at a disco.
Fact: the U.S. is 5% of the world’s population but, with over 400 million guns, accounts for 42% of the world’s gun ownership. However, Trump insists the mass murder crisis would be solved overnight if only teachers were armed. Don Jr. also stressed that guns aren’t the problem but was slammed for his ‘tasteless’ Facebook rant saying the Uvalde shooter could have killed 21 people with a baseball bat. (Good grief!)
The CDC now lists the leading cause of death for US children is guns. In fact, more children will die because of guns than all the police who die in the line of duty, while more will die than soldiers in battle and more will die than Blacks at the hands of police. In the U.S., per capita a person is 100 times more likely to die of gun violence than someone in the U.K. But sadly, the Republican party are slaves to the NRA and their campaign donations.
Lest this be 100% pessimistic, Senators and Congress members from both sides of the aisle have reportedly begun negotiations seeking common ground on the gun issues. And now I must share my uplifting experience with one of Reagan’s Secret Service who lived two doors from my apartment. One day my wallet fell out of my gym bag and he returned it but with a stern lecture. However, once we realized we had in common taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s, he with Reagan and me with my late mother, despite our differences, we were buddies.
He actually arranged for me to meet Reagan for a moment as he was to walk on the beach. It was canceled because, sadly, Reagan was convinced he’d already taken his walk. I never cared for Reagan’s politics but, I must admit with his broad shoulders, he looked like a president straight from Central Casting.
In two weeks hopefully the humor-based “Laughing Matters” will return. I already have a tentative title, “Adjusting to Life After the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard Trial.”
“Morning in America” is on YouTube. Jack is at: firstname.lastname@example.org