America, We Own This...
Our Criminal Negligence Led Us To This Awful Place
As sickening as the events in Buffalo are and always will be, what’s most unfortunate is how unsurprising they are.
I’ve written often here on the mainstreaming of White Supremacy and White Nationalism in our culture. Whether it’s Arizona state legislators disenfranchising minority voters, Arizona gubernatorial candidates blaming immigrants and “broken borders” for just about everything, and Arizona Congressmen cuddling up with Nazis, this violence has been on the way since President “There are very fine people on both sides” hijacked the White House.
Add total lack of gun control, nightly rants from Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, banning true American history from our classrooms, and complete absence of moderating forces in social media, and what would one expect? Not surprising that a heavily armed 18-year old would drive three hours to stalk and track and hunt down Black people. Toxic doesn’t go far enough to describe us right now.
Buffalo is further proof of America’s current criminal negligence, of our current criminal negligence. Collectively, we’re responsible for an ever growing list of race war crimes. Besides the victims at Tops, we own the dead at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church, El Paso’s WalMart, Dayton’s Oregon District, and the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville.
Remember the kindergartners and their teachers shredded by military weaponry at Sandy Hook. We didn’t ban battlefield firearms. Instead, we armed teachers and told them to shoot back next time.
Remember George Floyd strangled by a bad cop in full view of fellow officers who did nothing to save him? We didn’t reform policing. Instead, the Right tagged protestors as Leftist extremists and branded politicians who dared question police tactics as soft on crime. When the protests reached the White House, the Big Liar asked his Defense Secretary to shoot demonstrators.
Remember the movement toward reparations for slavery, ending monuments to Confederate traitors, educating about Jim Crow, and red lining and lynching? We didn’t discuss and reset. Instead, the Right turned “woke” into a curse word worse than F**K and weaponized parents to ban books and curricula.
And… the White Supremacist teenager locked and loaded and drove to Buffalo with a manifesto and a gun graffitied with racial slurs. It’s protected speech don’t you see. It’s our right to bear arms.
Please, No Lectures On “Rights”
As the families touched by this tragedy grieve. As we all stand around and shake our heads. As Ukraine and inflation and the midterms and Roe push this awfulness out of the news cycle. Do not for a moment lecture me on the Tops massacre, on FOX News propaganda, on hate speech throughout social media as protected by First and Second Amendment Rights.
Yes, we have the Rights. But, we have none, ZERO, understanding of the awesome responsibility necessary to use these constitutional guarantees as a force for a factually informed, stable, open, peaceful, and ethnically diverse America.
Instead, we consider stealing baby formula from immigrant infants, turn away Black and Latin refugees seeking freedom, label nations with Black and Muslim populations as “shit hole countries,” fly Confederate flags while storming the Capitol, elect White Nationalists to Congress and our statehouses, trust racists to train our police forces, and parade around in tactical gear celebrating “our freedoms.”
Freedoms. What complete and total bull shit.
America – me, you, your parents, ALL OF US – are criminally negligent for using freedom as a justification for the emergence of this poison. For allowing the sacrifice of Freedom Riders and Civil Rights martyrs to be forgotten. For codifying and mainstreaming discrimination, disenfranchisement, and destruction of racial equity in these United (hardly) States.
So, while you’re whining about $5 a gallon gas, suing your teachers for the crime of enlightened education, othering LGBTQ people, stealing healthcare from women, banning books that make you “uncomfortable,” and slandering Joe Biden as a senile communist and illegitimate president, take a moment to consider the last moments of the innocent grocery shoppers on a sunny Saturday in Buffalo.
Didn’t they have freedoms too? A right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
We own it all.
A brief personal note about Buffalo.
It was our home for three very full years in the early 1980’s. My wife found her calling in nursing at the University of Buffalo while expertly balancing being Mom to a newborn and a toddler. She was and is an incredible spouse to a workaholic husband obsessed with journalism who spent too many hours on the Assignment Desk at WKBW-TV instead of helping raise our kids. It was a struggle. We barely made enough money to make our young family work. But, we had an ally.
Snowy Buffalo with its Fredrick Law Olmsted parks, zoo, philharmonic orchestra, museums, libraries, and ethnic neighborhoods – “the City of Good Neighbors” and “Queen City of the Great Lakes” – welcomed us in all its diversity. Yes, diversity, and also divisions. Segregated by ethnic neighborhoods, Polish, Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican, Jewish, Caribbean, and African American, Buffalo is a very divided city.
Still, the “Good Neighbors” nickname was genuine as we learned firsthand whenever our neighbors dug us out from blizzards, rescued us when our piece of junk Chevy broke down, and offered a free cookie to our tiny daughter at the bakery on Saturday mornings.
True to its blue collar values, always proud, Buffalo was REAL. 40 years later we remember it with a smile.
All of these tragedies hurt. This one cuts deep.