Quite the day, today has been. The NYT reports that, as President Obama flew down to Roseburg, Oregon, to be present for the families of the victims of last week's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College (details here) two more such shootings--one at Texas Southern University and one at Northern Arizona University took place, leading to the death of two students and the wounding of four. These shootings are not classic mass shootings like last week's, the Times reports, as they "appeared to stem from ordinary disputes and altercations that quickly turned violent."
I'm sure the bereaved, the wounded and their families appreciate that distinction.
A third incident, in Louisville, Kentucky was reported, but no injuries were reported, and, in fact, no affirmative proof that any shots were fired has been found as of this writing.
It's routine now. The new normal.
President Obama was met with a mixed reaction:
Many of the signs proclaimed, “Welcome Obama,” but others were more pointed, and referred to his desire for more gun control. “Gun-free Zones Are for Sitting Ducks,” said one. Another: “Nothing Trumps Our Liberty.” And one said simply, “Obama is Wrong.”We are, there is no doubt in my mind, in a very bad way as a society. Whatever one may think of an appropriate governmental response to the problem, this should not be routine. And yet by this reckoning, we have had 298 this year--not counting the two today. So, 300, then. Today, October 9, is the 282nd day of the year.
Just hours after the shooting in Roseburg, Mr. Obama quickly set grief aside. “This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America,” he said in an unusually abrupt and often angry speech.
But that message was not well received among many here, where last week’s rampage has actually tightened the embrace of guns.
Some prominent residents, including the publisher of a local weekly newspaper, said Mr. Obama was not welcome. The language got so angry that on Tuesday, the mayor and other city officials put out a statement saying they welcomed Mr. Obama and “will extend him every courtesy.”
That's routine, by any definition. The new normal, as I said above.
Our politics and our culture are simply unable to address this productively. To steal a line from Bruno Gianelli, "No more. I really don't care who's right, who's wrong. We're both right. We're both wrong." We need a cultural tectonic shift, and we need to change as a people. We need to say, simply, "no more." Whether through law, through peer pressure, through social pressure,through an embrace of a genuine ethic of life--we need as a society to be opposed to this slaughter.
Why don't I blog politics anymore? Because, ultimately, our national politics aren't working. I was never about the horse race. There are some first rate political bloggers on the web, and heaven knows I was never one of them. I'm not missed in that capacity. And so more and more, I find myself turning in other directions. Looking to what I can do, as a friend, a brother, an uncle, a colleague, a writer, and, I think most productively in some ways, as a deacon.
Because if there's one thing that seems clear to me, it's that the work of building up is face-to-face, retail, not wholesale, meeting people where they are, and not where I'd like them to be. And that means accepting and being accepted flaws and all. We're all broken, more or less, all in need of forgiveness. And any of us is capable of choosing today to build up rather than break down, to extend the hand of love, rather than the fist.