In the stages of grief, I'm stuck on anger.
I’m angry that it’s never the right time to talk about our country’s gun sickness. Angry that washed-up, draft-dodging rocker Ted Nugent came to my city and repeated that lie, preening in his knuckle-dragging mendacity, because he knows those cable-news trucks will pack up their gear and head back not to Washington, D.C., or Atlanta but to the site of the next gun tragedy. Now is exactly the time to talk about guns in America because there’s never a pause to the carnage, and I want to punch the smirk off Ted Nugent’s stupid face.
I’m angry that former Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has directed an eight-year bowel movement at the state where I was born and raised, is so quick to divine the motives of a Muslim who goes on a shooting spree in Tennessee — radical Islam!, he feverishly proclaimed within hours of the tragedy — yet says only time will tell what motivated the Charleston and Lafayette shooters and the many, many other white-Christian-conservative men driven to delirious rage by hate radio, the Internet and the talking heads on Fox News. Now is not the time to talk about guns, says the former governor who has kissed the NRA’s ass so passionately we can’t tell where Bobby Jindal’s lips end and Wayne LaPierre’s buttocks begin.
But now is the time to talk about it, because we know what motivates and animates many of these crazies: a steady diet of outrage and anger marketed for ratings, profit and clicks; an intravenous line running directly from the merchants of political hate into the blood streams of men — so often white men who vote Republican, damn it — who have become convinced that the liberals and the blacks, the poor and the professors, the feminists, the gays, lesbians and transgender — “libtards” like me — want to take their guns and their religion and a republic that has been mythologized and idealized but never fully realized away from them. Take our country back? From who, open-carry/tea party douche bag making everyone nervous at Target?
It cannot be a coincidence that the Lafayette cinema murderer chose to express his rage during Trainwreck, starring a popular comedian known for her outspoken feminism, her liberalism. We don’t know where his mind was during those bloody seconds on July 23, but we know where it had been — at websites like I Hate Liberals, and surely in the echo chamber of Fox News’ rotating roster of the aggrieved. The few social media footprints he left behind reveal him to have been a liberal-hating misogynist.
Twice as many Americans have died in the U.S. at the hands of right-wing white men since 9/11 than have been killed by radicalized Muslims. Twice as many. I should be angry that Jindal won’t acknowledge that, but I know he can’t, because that would be to acknowledge what the “entertainment” arm of his ideology spawns. You don’t see liberals going on politically motivated shooting sprees, but arch conservatives do it with regularity, fueled by media that cast Democrats and liberals, atheists and free-thinkers, gays and feminists — scientists, for crying out loud! — and anyone who agitates for civil rights, income equality or the proven idea that humans are dangerously heating the planet as maleficent “others” bent on destroying “traditional America.” We see it in the hucksterism of The Hayride where “valued sponsors” hawk hysterics and political paranoia. In Sarah Palin’s infamous crosshairs on an election map that targeted Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was promptly shot in the head. In Sharon Angle’s “2nd Amendment remedies” and Bill O’Reilly’s silly War on Christmas.
Surely there is an element of insanity built into mass murder, but it’s not The Daily Show or Occupy Wall Street pushing these right-wing loons over the edge. It’s websites, radio programs and TV shows that peddle persecution and the memes of martyrdom. Yet Sens. Bill Cassidy and David Vitter take to the Senate floor after the Grand Theatre shootings to call for better mental health screenings with not a word about guns. Because now is not the time.
And it’s the Republican presidential candidates — Jindal, Huckabee, Santorum and Cruz chief among them — who clutch their pearls and bemoan the evil liberals’ persecution of Christians. Screw them.
Now is the time to talk about guns, and about the hate and paranoia that fly like spittle from the maw of conservative media. Jade Helm 15 isn’t a prelude to FEMA concentration camps, where God-fearing, gun-loving “real” Americans will be sent by a tyrannical Uncle Sam. Sometimes I wish it were, because what I’m angriest about is that there is an avid audience lapping up all that bitter bile, and a few crazy enough to act on it.