Surprised? I’m not, given the NRA, big donors and inaction and lies from GOP politicians.
I’m overwhelmed with writing projects. I vowed to spend the day “Spring cleaning” my disastrously messy office (it’s still Spring, right). I told myself to take a day or two off from opining. After all, what good am I doing?
And then I saw this from Charlie Sykes, an editor-at-large at the Bulwark and an MSNBC opinion columnist:
GOP’s mass shooting response is a bizarre twist for the so-called ‘pro-life’ party
Just days after a teenage gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, nearly half of Republican voters told pollsters that mass murders were “unfortunately, something we have to accept as part of a free society.”
(Just to head off all the “there he goes again, quoting radical left MSNBC pundits” comments, Sykes is a former conservative radio talk show host and the Bulwark is a right-of-center news and opinion website. He quit his radio show because he felt that the conservative movement had lost its way during the 2016 campaign, saying “…as we learned this year, we had succeeded in persuading our audiences to ignore and discount any information from the mainstream media. Over time, we’d succeeded in delegitimizing the media altogether — all the normal guideposts were down, the referees discredited.” In his column today, Sykes is simply reporting the facts.)
The poll Sykes refers to is a YouGov/CBS News Poll conducted between June 1 -3. Here’s the question that engendered Sykes’ (and my) ire.
“Forty-four percent of GOP voters say that “we have to accept” the slaughter of children on a more or less regular basis, because they are the collateral damage of living in a free society.
“Don’t slide past that poll number, because it gives us a glimpse of how broken our discourse has become, when weapons become fetishes of manhood and guns designed to blow human beings are embraced as symbols of “freedom.”
“There is no confusion or misunderstanding here, because the wording of the question was clear and blunt (“Do you feel that mass shootings are___”), and the memories of the murders in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, were still fresh. Media reports were still showing images of the victims and scenes of mourning.
“The result is shocking, but it shouldn’t be surprising. For years, despite the rising death toll, the gun lobby has continued to insist that guns were the foundation of the nation’s liberty — and none more than the deadliest of semi-automatic weapons.“
Shocking, but not surprising; Republican voters have been fed this rubbish for years.
“This is not a new position for talking heads on the right.
“In 2017, after a gunman murdered more than that 50 people in Las Vegas, former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly declared that the carnage was ‘the price of freedom.‘
“’Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are,’ O’Reilly wrote on his blog. ‘The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons.'”
Of course, O’Reilly is as wrong on the clarity of the Second Amendment as he is on just about everything else. But, apparently, when he, and others of his ilk, speak, Republican voters listen:
The AR-15 has become the nation’s most popular rifle. As the New York Times noted, “for those who love the rifle, it is seen as a testament to freedom — a rite of passage shared between parents and children, a token to welcome soldiers home, a tradition shared with friends at the range.”
But this “testament to freedom” has been used in one mass murder after another. Here’s a partial list:
- May 24, 2022: Shooting at Robb Elementary School in Ulvade, Texas, 19 children and two teachers dead.
- May 14, 2022: Shooting at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, 10 people murdered.
- Feb. 14, 2018: Shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida leaves 17 people dead.
- Oct. 1, 2017: The Las Vegas slaughter of 58 people.
- Nov. 5, 2017: The Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting that claimed 26 lives.
- June 12, 2016: The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., that left 49 dead.
- Dec. 2, 2015: The San Bernardino, Calif., shooting that killed 14 people.
- Dec. 14, 2012: The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that took 27 lives.
In 1775, Patrick Henry uttered these words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
I would submit that in 2022, those words, at least from today’s GOP politicians and right-wing talking heads, would be better expressed this way, “Give me liberty, and give others death!”