Thursday, June 22, 2017

In Other News Of Murder

The show must go on, and following the attempted murder of GOP members of Congress on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, the annual congressional baseball game was held. The Washington Examiner reported

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence did not attend the game, but Trump sent a message of unity and many other politicians of every stripe made appearances. The president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Kellyanne Conway, counsellor to the president, were among those in the stadium to represent the administration. All four congressional leaders, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., led the crowd of nearly 25,000 in a "Play ball!" chant.

Throughout the game, which featured a lack of hitting ability, hordes of stolen bases, and echoes of Bruce Springsteen's 1984 hit "Glory Days," was a sense of togetherness. The two teams took a knee together around second base during the pregame ceremonies. After the game, the Democrats' manager, Mike Doyle, handed the trophy to GOP manager Joe Barton and revealed that it would stand in Scalise's office until he gets out of hospital and returns to the halls of Congress. The event raised a record $1.5 million for charity, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., revealed in a tweet late Thursday.

"Thoughts and prayers" and other fine gestures were the common response. At a concert Tuesday night in Hyattsville, Maryland, the politically correct Bono gave a shout-out to Representative Steve Scalise "and his comrades," then visited Scalise's Capitol Hill staff and signed a giant get-well card for the congressmen and the two wounded Capitol police officers.

By stunning contrast, few people heard about the three human beings killed in an incident in the streets of St. Louis on June 2; of the five individuals murdered in a warehouse by a former employee in Orlando June 5; of the three men killed inside and immediately outside of a home in Fresno on June 6.

Now a 17-year-old Muslim girl has been killed near a mosque in northern Virginia in what police thus far reportedly believe was not a hate crime but a case of road rage.  At least there have been vigils across the country for the victim, though the fire set to a makeshift memorial in the District of Columbia a few days later should stand in stark contrast to the universal shock and grief at the gunfire unleashed while Republican congressmen were practicing for their baseball game against Democrats.

After the attack targeting Washington politicians, David Frum noted that while mass shootings and other crime have decreased markedly in the USA since the early 1990s, they remain much more prevalent than anywhere else in the developed world.  He notes tht in response to violent crime by terrorists and others

Americans have developed a strong taboo against ever discussing or even thinking about them. When the killer strikes, it is “too soon.” The next day, it is “too late”; we have all moved onto the next topic. Then comes the next massacre, and it is “too soon” all over again.

Like ancient villagers, Americans accept periodic plagues as a visitation from the gods, about which nothing can or should be done. The only permitted response is “thoughts and prayers”—certainly never rational action to reduce casualties in future. Even to open the discussion as to whether something might not be done violates the taboos of decency: How dare you politicize this completely unpredictable and uncontrollable event! It is as if gun violence were inscrutable to the mind of man, utterly beyond human control.

Recognizing prayer, though possibly necessary, is not sufficient, Frum quotes Isaiah 1:15 (here, from the English Standard Version):

When you spread out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen;
    your hands are full of blood.

We react to crime and violence with irrational fear, as typically practiced effectively by Donald Trump, or with studied apathy. A relative of the deceased in St. Louis asserted "it's senseless killing and it's got to stop."  It may be senseless but it doesn't have to stop, and there is little reason to believe it will.

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