“The families of those involved in the Texas school shooting were asked to give DNA swabs to help identify victims…”

It’s a headline no one should have to read, but every American must read. The title comes from a report written by Senior Breaking News Reporter for Insider, Cheryl Teh. The brutal and raw headline sums up the article succinctly. The first line reads:

Families of those involved in the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, were asked to give DNA samples to help investigators identify victims.

Cheryl Teh, “The families of those involved…,” Insider, May 2022.

The report discusses how the use of DNA to identify remains is generally reserved for incidents, such as natural disasters, when bodies are not easily identifiable. Gently put, it is safe to assume many victims of the recent elementary school massacre were unrecognizable.

Like many Americans, I have wept and hurt for those lost and left behind. As a parent, I can’t imagine the horror of losing my children to gun violence. Especially so young and while at one of few places which should be safest for them. Regardless of how near or far I am from understanding the profound suffering of those parents who stare into empty bedrooms belonging to the children so cruelly ripped away from them, I am nevertheless filled with rage.

When is enough, enough? How many people–children–have to die before America can finally admit to its gun problem? This fetish has taken too many lives. How woeful and tragic it is that we have placed guns above the lives of our children. Dead. Never to dream or laugh or play or have hope in the future again.

Where is the outrage? Where is the outpouring of anger over the lies and propaganda that have led an entire segment of America to be okay with blood on their hands just as long as they don’t have to change–or, more importantly, think about what it is they stand with and for?

Midterm elections are drawing quickly upon us. Remember this horror. Remember your outrage. Remember who stood in the way of everything which could have prevented this tragedy. Let our vote be our voice. Let it speak our condemnation on those who sacrifice our children for profit.

But, most importantly, remember:

Families of those involved in the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, were asked to give DNA samples to help investigators identify victims.

Cheryl Teh, “The families of those involved…,” Insider, May 2022.

Systemic Racism on Display: SCOTUS on Roe v. Wade

A very intelligent and wise woman, Dr. Wilson, pointed out a lack of citations to provide evidence for the loaded claims made by Supreme Court Justice Samuel “I Hate Women” Alito. I read the passage again with this insight in mind, and that is when I saw it. The old white supremacist language I was raised to speak and hear and understand.

For those who don’t speak fascism, racism, or bigotry in the deeply rooted systemic dialect, I would like to offer a translation.

-Justice Samuel Alito, Initial Draft: Majority Opinion courtesy of Politico.

The lack of citation to provide evidence for his claims is standard practice in the fascist dialect. It is often employed when in the act of committing or supporting evil. Simply, a claim is made and we’re supposed to assume it to be unerringly true—like they do with the Bible.

The phrase “enflamed debate” means their argument is inferior and the claim lacks the weight of merit. In short, they can’t get their way by reason or debate. This is where the phrase “deepened division” comes into play.

Division is a dog whistle to rally defense of something generally indefensible. We don’t call out Uncle-Brother Billy Joe Bob for his racism at Thanksgiving because it would cause division.

Division is the phrase pulled out when fascists no longer want to debate, they just want their way. An example of this is excusing grandma because she grew up in another time, and we can’t reason her out of it, so we just give her a pass so not to cause division.

Where else do you see this use of division to rob power from the people so that it may be used to uphold oppressive structures, systems, and institutions? If you guessed white evangelical churches, you would be solidly right.

Now why do you see that similarity? Well, it’s not coincidental. The relationship between the white evangelical church and white nationalism in America runs deep. While that goes beyond the scope of what I’m doing here, I would invite you to consider how many of these far right wing fascists claim to be Christians. Then, consider all the ways in which these Christians argue for legislation against abortion rights, the entire existence of the LGBTQIA+ community, the poor, and women.

I’m not proud that I can still read white supremacy, but I feel it imperative that I should make very plain what has actually been said here. I would also ask that we pay very close attention to which States enact bans on abortion, birth control, contraceptives, and abortion medication. They’ll probably be the same ones enacting legislation targeting the LGBTQIA+ community and their families. Probably the same ones that are Republican run. Probably the same ones that have a long history with racism/segregation/slavery/lynching. They will probably rank low in education and high in poverty. Probably have some voter suppression history there, too.

Again, this not the scope of this writing, but do take notice of the common connection. GOP, white supremacy, and white evangelical Christianity always seem to be found hanging out at all the same clubs together. Just saying.

Critical Stirrings

…This is why art and literature and storytelling matter. Through them light can be shed on identity, culture, society, and the systems and institutions by which we live. Matters become illuminated revealing the need for further critique and deeper conversations. More importantly, we are brought to a reckoning where we must defend or condemn these matters.

Perhaps this is what drives the recent string of book banning in public school libraries across the United States. The very specific texts and topics being targeted appear to shut out very specific conversations. In this way, those that might defend what ought to be condemned, the same who prevent progress toward a more equitable public paradigm, are empowered to continue to do so without having to look themselves, as it were, in the eye.

…In short, we are searing our collective conscience.

The Noise

In a small town somewhere in America, parents–not particularly bright, nor well informed, nor given to things like compassion, empathy, or kindness–gather to concoct plans to bully a school district into ignoring a statewide mask mandate for k-12 schools.

They are a minority. A terribly loud, terribly obnoxious, and terribly dumb minority. Armed to the teeth with conspiracy theories, debunked information, and a zealous confidence that they alone are awake in a world full of deceived sleepers.

This group looks like any other disturbed rightwing-conservative mob drooling and slobbering and dragging its knuckles at school board meetings across the country. Carbon copy, peaked-in-high-school, can’t spell “CRT,” book-burning fascists trapped on a hamster wheel of fear and lashing out, fear and lashing out, fear and lashing out ad nauseum.

If their lunatic ravings harmed no one but themselves, I wouldn’t care. As it stands, their brand of stupid puts the whole community at risk.

These unmasked, unvaccinated, pandemic-denying, petri dishes of disease want their plague-carrying spawn to run wild and mask-free where they can infect and spread their illness to those just trying to attend school without catching a case of COVID.

They say masks are inflicting psychological trauma on our children, impeding their ability to learn the naturally evolved emotional responses ingrained in our species, and leaving them in deep emotional ruin. This, however, is only smoke they hope to blow up our collective ass.

I said, if we cared about the psychological wellbeing of our children, then we would have done more to address school shootings. They, of course, jumped to the defense of the gun. This is how we know it isn’t about the kids; this is about scratching some white nationalist-affirming political itch. As if, somehow, getting rid of masks means Jesus wins and Trump is king of America.

God save us from these idiots.

Blessed Be the Little Children

They were sick. Always sick, it seemed. Their withered and pale forms with skeletal outstretched limbs reminded him of molted and diseased birds—almost alien. But he knew they were human. Like those before. All children, and all abandoned by their caregivers.

It was as if this disease, or virus, or whatever the hell it was taking healthy thriving children and twisting them into malformed mockeries of humanity had somehow managed to reflect the hideous nature of the uninfected. Entire communities had resorted to simply turning out these poor souls. Leaving them to die in the streets, or in the wilds, or wherever the most convenient place be for them to die.

Even those left to wander aimlessly in community spaces were ignored and given wide berth by the uninfected. Their cries for mercy falling always on deaf ears. They had always been among the most vulnerable in every society, and now even their natural guardians refused them. Choosing, instead, to insulate themselves from that which might take their healthy children.

Healthy, of course, being a relative understanding. After all, how healthy can one be whose soul has been seared? What soundness of mind can there be in those unwilling to work to end the slow, agonizing, deaths of their children. Society has never been so unhealthy.

Humanity had managed to lay aside its humanness. Whatever the cause—political affiliation, religion, social philosophy, etc.—didn’t matter in the end. Humanity had lost itself, and he was left to do the only humane thing left.

Other men joined him in corralling as many of the infected into a single sobbing cluster of suffering. Malformed and twisted though they were, their fear was unmistakable. He wished there were more he could do, some greater kindness he could offer, but instead gave them the only thing he could give; mercy.

At once, streams of fire spewed out over the children. Night after night the same torment, their pitched screams shattering parts of his souls like glass. He wondered how much of his soul even remained intact.

Only Half the Story

“These days, most interviews don’t even show up for an interview, let alone come to work. When we do get a guy, he wants to go by his schedule and he wants $20 or more to wash dishes,” explained Maglieri.

-Nico Payne, “Valley restaurants struggle to find long-term staff

So what about those companies and managers who work their staff to death? Those many times laves which pay less than a living wage? The places where staff is treated with a lack of respect? Why aren’t we talking about that part of the industry? Why aren’t we talking about the fact that while inflation rocketed costs, we left the minimum wage at $7.25–and NOW that places are willing to pay $15 an hour, we need a bump in that number to keep up with the perpetual rising costs—like the soaring rent costs.

Let’s address that side of the story, too. Maybe that will shed light on the real failures contributing to the “labor shortage” in the service industry right here in the Central Valley.

Or are we just here to validate conservative fears and grumblings, ABC30?

“I figured once the funds ran out, once they stop all the benefits and stuff. I assumed that people would be back already,” explained Maglieri.

Payne

Valley restaurants struggle to find long-term staff,” ABC30.