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Est. April 5, 2002
February 22, 2018 - Issue 730

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Mass Murder Is Right On Cue 

"Mental health professionals welcome more resources
and attention, but I continue to scream and they
agree that this Administration is ignoring the real
problem, which is, easy access to guns, particularly
the kind of high-powered, lethal assault weapons
used in many of these mass shootings.  This simple
truth is simply apparent, and now, this message from
the medical profession is knocking conservatives off cue."

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve written about this topic…for all intents and purposes, it appears this won’t be the last time either. My weekly radio show includes a recurring segment called Gun Check. I always hope that each edition of Gun Check will be my last; but white males in Congress, the NRA and the Ku Klux Klan ensure fresh episodes of Gun Check and its long shelf life.

The tag line is: Gun Check…let’s see what guns are up to now. As part of my regular script, I follow up by saying, “You know what guns are up to: death, destruction and nothin’ good!” It’s my way of checking up on the harm this element of American folklore repeatedly causes. And as if on cue, in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed on Valentine’s Day in one of the deadliest school shootings in US history. Also, on cue, immediately following the massacre were the obfuscators, detractors and virulent racists, who came out of the woodwork with the predictable soundbites, defenses, talking points and excuses - leading off with ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the victims and their families.

On the whole, no one talking point is any worse than the other, but the one that’s galls me most is, “This isn’t the time to talk about gun law reform.” And as if on cue, the “thoughts and prayers are with the families” line is invoked, flags are flown at half-staff, attempts to bring meaningful legislation to debate are diverted to talking points about mental health, and then the topic of the mass shooting eventually diminishes after a couple weeks to simply a conversation followed by collective amnesia—or at best silence.

The massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School was the 18th school shooting this year, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. You already know that the high profile event is undercut by scared and pretentious white males who take great lengths to protect their own interests at the cost of innocent Americans…in this case children.

Now, there’s no secret that I possess a strong distrust of white males—especially those living in the US. Don’t get me wrong, their footprint is just as terrible as that of Germans, Australians, Spaniards and the British, but Americans are the ones whom I have the most intricate knowledge and relationship with. American white males are the reason tragic occurrences of magnitude continue to happen. This year, school shootings have occurred at an average every 60 hours. So long as white men can continue to buy, hold and sell more weapons of mass destruction, they can care less how many American lives - even children’s lives - are gunned down.

And as horrific as this latest tragedy is, it’s punctuated by race and racism rearing its ugly head yet again. As I witnessed the events of the Parkland County Valentine’s Day massacre unfold, I saw the legacy of racial disparity play out before live cameras as the police arrested and detained the shooter. Police identified the gunman as a 19-year-old former pupil—a white male named Nikolas Cruz. He was carrying an AR-15 with multiple magazines of ammunition. The cameras captured images of two officers gingerly lifting him onto a stretcher. He wasn’t dragged, tased, tethered or beaten. He was not bleeding, nor was he hollering, “I can’t breathe.” His arrest wasn’t a “hands up, don’t shoot” proposition. Funny how that happens?

It must be great to be white.

In addition to the 17 dead, 15 people were injured by this particular demon. The Broward County sheriff was interviewed saying, “The gunman was taken without incident.” Without incident? Really? I’ve seen video of Black men fleeing, freezing in place or even surrendering and almost instantaneously beaten, tased or even worse, shot dead…even though they were unarmed, submissive or compliant.

Again, it must be nice being white in America?

Trump visited Lakeland, particularly victims recovering in the hospitals, after the mass school shooting. He didn’t visit Las Vegas, where double the number of victims’ lives was taken. Could it be because Lakeland’s mass murders involved children? I don’t know. He didn’t say…but since he cares so deeply about children, then ask yourself why he wouldn’t listen to them when they’re shouting out for responsible and swift—and substantial—gun-control legislation? And can you tell me if he visited any of the other 17 schools that were shot up this year…and it’s only February?

I’ve been calling for sensible gun law reform for years. Trump and his conservative supporters have heard the call and defiantly ignored, fought and resisted any attempts to save children’s lives. And then, to throw salt into our wounds, some conservative pundits, pollsters and politicians even throw in the idiotic theory that the Sandy Hook massacre didn’t even happen?

Now, I want to raise your radar (and maybe your temperature) by informing you that the students who are demanding change to the gun laws are going to get something substantial out of this ordeal. Not because they’re moral, not because they’re right, but simply because they’re white. Just know that things change when white folks’ feelings get hurt. Just look at the Me Too movement (and, yes, it has “moved” the line of scrimmage, so it is a movement). When the Bill Cosby sexual assault accusers spoke out, the country did notice, but it did not lead to legislative change, or even a hashtag. In contrast, the Parkland students and their social media networks of young people are demanding a change in the gun laws, whether bump stocks or background checks, or some other gun law reform, the young people will come out of this sorrow with something, and maybe even a Time magazine cover.

What I know is that it must be nice to be white.

The student protestors strategically co-opted the Republican talking point and buried it (and yes, I approve): “This is the time to talk about gun laws.” They snatched the tired and bogus line out of the mouth of greedy gun capitalists and planted the threat of the ballot box in its place. Then, they posited a strategy that I’ve been postulating for years: They snatched mental illness from the jaws of lawmakers, aka NRA proxies, and connected it with gun-control legislation— making the two inseparable! Yes! That’s how you de-fang a devil! Then, they pulled in other institutions that’re affected by this idiocy, like doctors.

Frustration is mounting in the medical community as the Trump administration again points to mental illness in response to yet another mass shooting. "The concept that mental illness is a precursor to violent behavior is nonsense," said Dr. Louis Kraus, forensic psychiatry chief at Chicago's Rush University Medical College. He added, "The vast majority of gun violence is not attributable to mental illness." That’s a fact we know, but as we’ve allowed Republicans to steer a status quo narrative, here we are again as if on cue—another school shooting.

Time’s Up!”

Just hours after the shooting, the white male shooter’s mental health became the focus of President Donald Trump's comments. And on a Thursday call with reporters, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Administration is committed to addressing serious mental illness and that his agency "will be laser-focused on this issue in the days, weeks, and months to come." So? Who gives a damn? That sentiment never stopped anyone from shooting anyone else. Just remember: Wanting to kill someone else is mentally ill! Period.

From what I’ve learned, mental health professionals welcome more resources and attention, but I continue to scream and they agree that this Administration is ignoring the real problem, which is, easy access to guns, particularly the kind of high-powered, lethal assault weapons used in many of these mass shootings. This simple truth is simply apparent, and now, this message from the medical profession is knocking conservatives off cue.

"Even for those who manage to survive gun violence involving these weapons, the severity and lasting impact of their wounds, disabilities and treatment leads to devastating consequences," American Medical Association President David Barbe wrote in an online column after the shooting. "We are not talking about Second Amendment rights or restricting your ability to own a firearm. We are talking about a public health crisis that our Congress has failed to address. This must end," Barbe wrote.

Once again, change must involve white people, and they’ve must be young. A few will fall through the cracks, but on the whole, most young white people have a conscience and haven’t drunk of the poisonous cup. Most won’t become a Dyllan Roof, but for far too many of them, only a tragedy will make them move toward uprooting the status quo. It’s time to change the script because this country’s children matter. If we allow Republican Conservatives to guide the narrative, we’ll have another mass massacre…right on cue. Mid-term Congressional elections will occur this fall 2018, change the narrative. The narrative’s tired and it’s ready. Columnist, Perry Redd, longtime activist & organizer, is the Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere
that currently owns the FCC license for WOOK-LP 103.1FM/ His latest book,
Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1, chronicles his ‘behind bars’ activism that extricated him from a 42-year sentence and is now case law. He is also the author of As A Condition of Your Freedom: A Guide to Self-Redemption From Societal Oppression, Mr. Redd also hosts a radio show, Socially Speaking, from his Washington, DC studio. Tweet him @socialspeaks. Contact Mr. Redd and BC.

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David A. Love, JD
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Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1
As A Condition of Your Freedom: A Guide to Self-Redemption From Societal Oppression
Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers