This Weekend We Witnessed True Bravery in the Face of Tragedy

This Weekend We Witnessed True Bravery in the Face of Tragedy

What a weekend. Only the most callous Americans could ignore the pain and suffering on display on local, regional, and national newscasts. And then, of course, there’s Twitter. I’m talking, of course, about the heroic efforts of politicians to sound like compassionate individuals while simultaneously holding hands with the NRA and kissing up to the President. It’s a nearly impossible act of contortion, and not everyone was up to the task. After a few meaningless tweets, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tripped over his own hollow rhetoric and broke a shoulder. Game over, Mitch. Better luck next time.

Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney managed to get through the weekend without breaking anything, but one imagines his sense of faux outrage is mighty sore today. He strained it on Sunday in an effort to chide the media and Democrats for politicizing tragedy, while insisting that the polarizing stream of hate spewing from his boss has absolutely no bearing on anything. According to Mick, the President’s words are meaningless and anyone who listens to him is sick or stupid or downright crazy. Like the white terrorist who killed 20 people at an El Paso Walmart after issuing a manifesto parroting the president‘s words on immigrants. Sure, the gunman says he hated immigrants before the current president took office, but he only felt bold enough to take action now. And, gosh, isn’t that a mystery? Who knows why the timing for a racist murder spree suddenly seemed just right.

To speculate on such things would only politicize the tragedy, according to Mulvaney. He sputtered to Chuck Todd’s beard that no one can blame the president for spewing hate-filled invectives against immigrants and people of color. “I blame the people who pulled the trigger,” he said, showing off his grasp of the indisputable logic that prohibits ever blaming more than one person for anything.

You have to admire Mulvaney’s discipline, because Ohio State Rep. Candice Keller blamed everyone but the gunmen for the killings this weekend. In a wordy Facebook post she pointed the finger at everyone from homosexuals to absent fathers to professional athletes and, of course, Obama. This, I imagine, is why Keller hasn’t yet moved into the major leagues of national politics. She’s certainly got passion, but she needs to work on her message discipline. Rookie mistake, Candice. Don’t worry, you’ll get another chance to respond to a mass shooting in your state soon. Maybe even today!

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent his heart out to the victims and offered prayers in a meaningless, but safe statement that may have been recycled from a previous incident. All of the smartest politicians, particularly those involved in a longterm love affair with the NRA, have standard talking points for mass shootings. Only the names of the towns need changing. Kudos to you, Greg. Your NRA rating is safe and obviously that’s your highest priority.

A few members of the GOP sprinted to find a convenient scapegoat for the deaths of 29 innocent human beings. Video games are the problem, according to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Those dudes sure are smart. After all, what could be more deadly than shooting fake guns at fake people in a simulated environment? Also, just as a practical matter, the video game industry has never campaigned on behalf of McCarthy or Patrick nor given them tens of thousands of dollars the way the NRA has. You can’t ignore your sponsors, can you, boys?

President Trump, who alternates between denial and pride when his own words are repeated by mass murderers, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, spoke out this weekend saying, “perhaps more has to be done.” Note the strategic use of the word ‘perhaps’. It’s a masterful modifier that lets his teammates know he doesn’t actually intend to do more. In fact, he may do less. Also, he sent out several tweets this weekend in which he spelled his wife’s name correctly, so he has to be feeling pretty good about his performance right now. He definitely earned some well-deserved rest and relaxation, which is why no one could fault him for playing multiple rounds of golf and playfully crashing a wedding while dozens of Americans were being treated for injuries because they dared to shop at Walmart or go out with their friends on a Saturday night.

But I think the MVP award should go to Sen. John Cornyn for this beauty of a tweet:

Note the use of nuanced contradiction and outright nonsense delivered with a soupçon of regret. If only there were some way to figure out a solution to the problem of mass shootings (and homelessness!), Cornyn would be all over it. If only he had all the answers. But in the absence of a perfect solution, what’s the point of even trying? I mean, would it even be worth it to enact laws that would drastically curtail the number of shootings (or people without homes!)? Not for a superstar like Cornyn! He’s an all-or-nothing guy. If he can’t absolutely fix something, he’s not even going to bother trying. If only the problems weren’t so darn complex! If only the solutions, admittedly clear and simple, weren’t so wrong for the NRA and the gun manufacturers and his campaign coffers. He feels bad about it, darn it!

It was a rough weekend for these American heroes and it won’t be the last rough weekend they face. The next mass shooting is just around the corner. Where will it take place? A school, a shopping center, an office park, a county fair, a state capitol? Wherever it is, they’ll be ready. I bet they’re back in training today, massaging those hurt feelings, getting in some quality thoughts-and-prayers reps, practicing simultaneous head-shaking, frowns and finger-wagging, and feeding the gaping maw that once housed their morality. The next match up will be upon them soon and we’ll be forced to watch the whole sorry performance again.

Forgive me if I’m not a fan.

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Tiffany Quay Tyson

THE PAST IS NEVER is the winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, and the Mississippi Author Award for Adult Fiction (selected by the Mississippi Library Association). The novel is shortlisted for the prestigious Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction. This southern gothic novel steeped in local lore was selected as an "Okra Pick" by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Tyson's debut novel THREE RIVERS was a finalist for both the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. She was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and now lives, writes, and teaches in Denver, Colorado.
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