Still mostly just pretty sad about all this.
People have a tendency to retreat into their corners and view tragedies through whatever lenses make sense to them -- I know I was pretty quick to jump on the blame-Fox News-and-Sarah Palin train after the Tucson shooting, with not a whole lot of evidence to back it up.
So I guess I can have a little bit of sympathy for Brianna Wu trying to attach it to the lens of the bigots she's dealt with, or even those jackasses on Fox News acting like it was about religion instead of race. (Hell, earlier today Neil Gaiman got called out for a well-meaning but poorly-thought-out tweet
where he segued from the shootings into shilling for some Tor authors; he apologized
and took the tweet down.) There's something deeply profane about murdering people in their house of worship; I get that even as a nonbeliever, and I can see how that's the most striking detail for some people.
As for the "Are we safe in OUR churches?" rhetoric -- well, okay, that's a bunch of stupid hysterical bullshit, but it's the sort of consistent
hysterical bullshit we get from the media every time there's a mass shooting -- "Are our children safe at school?", "Are we safe going to the movies?", and so on.
But yeah there's just something so peculiar about watching the Fox News narrative. Even for a channel already
dedicated to pretending like clear and unambiguous facts (like, say, biology and climate science) are just suggestions, even for a show that as recently as a couple of days before this attack was trotting out its "obviously racism doesn't exist anymore" talking points...there's no fucking ambiguity here. I mean...I guess it's possible they hadn't heard all the details about what the shooter had worn and said yet? I know I hadn't at that time yesterday. Then again, I don't work for a company that claims to be a news organization.
It's just weird, though. I feel like even people who only get their news through Fox News have got to know by now that this was a white guy killing black people because they were black.
Anyway. Back to the talk about everybody seeing things through their own lenses and frequently resorting to unrelated partisanship. It's tempting to say "Leave politics out of this", but, well, it's inherently fucking political. There are some issues that ARE related, either directly or tangentially, that deserve discussion.
I feel like gun control (1) is a nonstarter anyway and (2) is probably not directly applicable in this case. But it's still a conversation I'd rather this country spend more time on.
Mental illness...I dunno. I haven't heard anything to indicate that the shooter was mentally ill. Maybe he is and maybe he isn't. Arthur Chu at Salon has a piece called It’s not about mental illness: The big lie that always follows mass shootings by white males
, and I think I'm inclined to agree: mental illness may play some part in some of these shootings -- it may or may not in this one -- but when we limit the discussion to that subject, it stigmatizes people with mental illness, and also ignores that mental illness alone doesn't lead to violence, it's often exacerbated by fear and violent rhetoric. (And, okay, one guy thought Taxi Driver was telling him to shoot President Reagan.)
Talk about the recent clashes with police, and about the Treasonous Slaveholders' Flag? That stuff's relevant. Because we're talking about centuries of festering hate. This isn't about a lone gunman. It's about a clash between the past and the future. The comforting fiction of the isolated incident (and the isolated incident before that, and the isolated incident before that, and the isolated incident before that...) needs to stop. Let's connect those damn dots.
Hell, I don't know. Not a damn thing I can say that hasn't already been said better. (Stewart was in top form last night. Wilmore was even better.) What's there to do but scream and howl and wish things were different? I can vent my liberal white guilt on the Internet, but stuff like this is so much bigger than me. It's not like I can say or do anything important.
I wish things weren't the way they are. I'm happy to see that there are people having this conversation, and I hope that something good and productive comes out of it, instead of just the same old news cycle.
I guess if there's one thing I hope, it's that this horrific act of terrorism backfires spectacularly. That it brings people together. That it gets people talking about stuff they weren't talking about, that it gets people talking to people who they weren't talking to. That it gives people a reason to reflect on our shared humanity and think that hey, maybe trying to get along is more important than all this other bullshit.
I guess I'm enough of an optimist to think that's got to happen, at least a little bit, and probably already has. And enough of a pessimist to think that in about two weeks everything's going to be more or less back to normal.