More Innocent Blood Spilled by the Radical Right; Is there any going back?

When will enough be enough? A couple of days after the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre, I am sitting on the floor in a darkened classroom as the PA announces that we are in a lockdown. Normally teachers get notice of upcoming drills, and we had had no such warning. Directions come from the office and teachers and students mechanically perform the drill, but only the teachers have worried looks. Was it really happening here?

On the very same day, a deadly attack on children and teachers, more devastating than Sandy Hook, took place half way around the world. We woke this morning to the news that over 100 teachers and students were shot dead in their classrooms in Pakistan; and it was impossible to avoid the comparison to Sandy Hook. When I gave the news to my wife, she stood in the hallway and couldn’t find the right words. She simply uttered, “I’m not sure if we have gone too far to ever end this.”

School shootings are far too common in this country and we are sadly quite immune to them when we hear that a disgruntled boyfriend or a bullied loner takes out his frustration on his classmates. Nearly 100 times since Sandy Hook, US students and teachers have faced the all too horrible reality that the people lying on the floor and the police running through the building are not part of some drill.

But it’s not those tragic shootings, brought to you courtesy of the NRA, that are the new sign of the times which has me wondering if the carnage will ever end.   Violence in schools by one or two people with too easy access to high-powered weapons is nothing new. What is new is the use of children and teachers as political targets.

Random shots fired at panicked teens who get between a crazed killer and a long lost girlfriend or a harshly grading professor are not political acts. They are tragedies.   They ruin the lives of the survivors, the survivors’ families, the victims’ families, and the families of the killer(s) as well. It’s a trauma I never want to know.

While it’s true that more than 50 children in Calumet, Michigan met their Christmas Eve deaths because their parents had the audacity to unionize, it has only been in the last 30 or so years that shedding of the most innocent of blood has been used to make political “points.”

Right wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh, a self-described, but loathsome excuse for a “patriot,” murdered hundreds of children in Oklahoma City. Right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik murdered 69 children in Norway. And last night right wing terrorists from the Taliban climbed the compound walls and murdered a still uncounted number of students and teachers in Pakistan.

Even worse, there are members of the paranoid radical right in this country who did not shoot the children and teachers at Sandy Hook, but who feel quite comfortable claiming those deaths never happened. Instead they argue that the Obama administration faked the tragedy to make the confiscation of guns more acceptable. It isn’t bad enough that parents and siblings of massacred children have to face yet another Christmas reliving the horror of that December day. Now they have to deal with a group of right wing fools so insensitive to the magnitude of that disaster that when devastated parents google “Sandy Hook” many of the links point to sites “proving” that the death of their child was a hoax.

Have those, whose values are so out of touch with the rest of us, come to realize that blowing up people in markets or office buildings or on airplanes just isn’t hideous enough? Have they concluded that striking at children, who are the hope for our future, and the teachers who aim to help that hope blossom, is the only way to get attention for their venomous hate?

I’d like to find words to assure my wife that we have not gone so far that we cannot turn back. I’d like to say that while the passionate defense of out-of-date values so treasured by the radical right can sometimes lead to tragedy, it doesn’t have to target children. Buy as I sit on the floor in the darkened classroom hoping that the guy who is fiddling with the doorknob is one of the good guys, I am left wondering if such words of assurance can ever honestly be uttered again.

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