A Twitter comment today criticized DHS head Janet Napolitano because it took her 24 hours to post a short statement about yesterday’s massacre in Milwaukee. I have some sympathy for her. How do you know if you are one of the people who is expected to make a statement? And when? What difference does a statement make anyway?
I didn’t make a statement at all, so I guess I’m in a worse position than Napolitano. Just look at the partial list of people who DID make statements:
- President Obama and George Romney
- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
- The county sheriff and the Oak Creek police chief
- The FBI
- Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
- The record label that released the killer’s music
- The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
- The Milwaukee archbishop
- The Milwaukee NAACP
- The Southern Poverty Law Center
- The president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors
- The Violence Policy Center
Most of the statements sound the same.
Condemn. Deplore. Mourn. Thoughts and prayers. Tragedy. Sincere concern. Deeply saddening.
Sounds like a thesaurus of grieving. But what does any of it do — for the victims, for the next victims, for the nation?
In some ways, it’s like a funeral. “My condolences,” we mumble to the bereaved family. “Sorry for your loss.” Ritual phrases that can’t bring back the dead, but are all we have to offer.
[Oak Creek police chief John] Edwards said Page bought the weapon and bullets legally, and there was no bar to him owning a gun. But the shooting again raises question about the ease with which powerful guns can be purchased in the US, questions that were sidestepped after James Holmes shot dead 12 people and wounded 58 others in a Denver suburb last month. Holmes was carrying several semi-automatic weapons.
Yeah, gun control, especially control of the kind of armament that James Holmes carried, is a good idea. But no gun control law that I have seen proposed in the United States would have stopped the Milwaukee killer. Gun control laws don’t stop you from owning weapons just because you have a run-in with the law over drinking and driving — or just because you hate people of a different race or religion or politics.
Hatred is the force behind the Milwaukee killing, just as it was in Norway. Truly committed haters find lots of ways to kill people, from a fertilizer bomb at the Oklahoma Federal Building to a 9-millimeter handgun in Milwaukee.
According to New York University political scientist Patrick Egan, gun ownership and gun violence in the United States have dramatically declined over the past 50 years. Hatred has not.
One weapon against hatred is truth. That’s the weapon we need to educate ourselves and our children, our sisters and brothers-in-law and cousins — and even our Congresswomen.
As the HuffPost religion editor writes:
Yes, Sikhs are not Muslims and Sikhs are not Hindus, but jumping to clarify difference leaves the unfortunate, if unintentional, perception that there is something wrong with those “others.” … Let us get to know our Sikh sisters and brothers, as well as all of the “others” in our neighborhoods so that we might grow stronger as one nation, and as one global community.