No, Folks, This Is NOT Normal …

Yesterday morning we awoke to news of another mass shooting, this one at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, that left 13 dead, including the gunman.  The first headline I saw claimed it was the “First mass shooting in the U.S. in over 10 days”, as if that were a statistic in which we ought to take pride.  First, a mass shooting every eleven days would be nothing to be proud of even if true, but the reality is that it was not the first, but rather the eleventh mass shooting since the shooting at L’Simcha (Tree of Life) synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 27th.  Eleventh.  Think about this one for a moment.  Did you realize there had been, on average, one mass shooting per day for the past ten?  Why did we not know?  How could we have missed it?mass shootings map-2According to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 307 mass shootings in the 312 days of 2018.  It has become a common occurrence in our lives and we are, apparently, no longer shocked.  Five people shot, nobody died … oh well, just another day in paradise, eh?

The words of one parent whose son, Telemachus Orfanos, lost his life yesterday morning tell it all …

“I don’t want prayers.  I don’t want thoughts.  I want gun control.”

Telemachus had survived the Las Vegas massacre last year, only to lose his life in this one.

Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in 2011, tweeted …

“307. There have been 307 mass shootings so far this year. Do we really want to raise our children in a country where mass shootings like Thousand Oaks are a weekly occurrence? A country where every single day in America, more than 90 people are killed with guns?  Classrooms. Places of worship. Newsrooms. Movie theaters. Restaurants. Yoga studios. Nightclubs. Playgrounds. No place in America feels safe anymore. No other high-income nation has this level of gun violence. I’m heartbroken, angry, and never going to accept this as normal.”

None of us should ever be willing to accept this as normal … it isn’t.  I’ve quoted statistics in past posts, so I won’t bore you with them again, except to say that every other nation in the industrialized world has stricter gun laws than the U.S., and not a single one has the number of gun deaths … not even close … that the U.S. sees every single year.  Every.  Single.  Year.

Tree of Life synagogue, Parkland, Las Vegas, Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook … how many more?  How many more people in this country have to die before somebody wakes up and says ENOUGH!!!  Small men who rely on guns to make them feel like big men need to find some other outlet for their anger!  We The People are tired of the killing.  The NRA owns most every republican in Congress, as well as the small man sitting in the Oval Office.

Please … don’t sit back and shrug this one off, don’t accept that gun violence in the United States has to be ‘the norm’.  It doesn’t have to be.  Write letters, make your voice heard, or one of these days it might be you who gets that call in the middle of the night.gun-pointing

Pittsburgh Does Not Want Him … Does Anybody?

Last Saturday, during a Shabbat service at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a man by the name of Robert Bowers entered the synagogue saying that “Jews must die” and shooting randomly at congregants, ultimately killing eleven.  His reason?  He blamed Jews for the migrant caravan that he has been told by none other than Donald Trump, is coming here to take jobs, kill people, and ruin the United States.  Sadly, Mr. Bowers isn’t very intelligent, so he believed the blatant lies that Trump spewed.

To set the facts straight, the migrant caravan is comprised of families – men, women and children – who are fleeing from the violence in their home countries, hoping to seek asylum in the United States, work hard, assimilate into our society, and make a better, safer life for their children.  Trump’s tales that they are criminals and even Middle-Eastern terrorists, that they were financed by George Soros in order to affect the mid-term elections, are nothing but lies made up in the scrambled mind of a madman.

That same madman now plans to visit Pittsburgh, ostensibly to offer his “thoughts and prayers”, but in truth for a photo op in the days leading up to the election.  Most of Pittsburgh, it seems, do not want him. At last count, more than 44,000 people had signed an open letter from the leaders of a Pittsburgh-based Jewish group who say Trump will not be welcome in the city unless he denounces white nationalism and stops “targeting” minorities.  Here is the letter:

President Trump:

Yesterday, a gunman slaughtered 11 Americans during Shabbat morning services. We mourn with the victims’ families and pray for the wounded. Here in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, we express gratitude for the first responders and for the outpouring of support from our neighbors near and far. We are committed to healing as a community while we recommit ourselves to repairing our nation.

For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.  

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.

Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted.  You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.  

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.

The murderer’s last public statement invoked the compassionate work of the Jewish refugee service HIAS at the end of a week in which you spread lies and sowed fear about migrant families in Central America. He killed Jews in order to undermine the efforts of all those who find shared humanity with immigrants and refugees.

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.

The Torah teaches that every human being is made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.

This means all of us.

In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God.  While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say:

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.


Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh Steering Committee

It is time we all step up to the plate and hold Donald Trump accountable for what he says, for the lies he cannot seem to stop telling.  Yes, republicans, that means YOU, too.  If you continue to support his hate speech, his incitement to riot, then you must share the guilt, share the blame, when innocent people are killed because somebody, somewhere took his words seriously.  Words matter.  It’s time to stop the runaway mouth that is attached to the ‘man’ in the White House before more people die for no reason other than Trump thinks he’s funny.

Despite the letter, Trump and Melania are planning a visit to Pittsburgh today.  Perhaps Melania can wear her lovely jacket that says, “I really don’t care, do U?”  Nothing would surprise me about this pair of unconscionable, cold, cruel narcissists.  You know what would make my day?  If he and Melania landed, and nobody came to greet them on the tarmac, there was no waiting Mayor Peduto, no Governor Wolfe … nobody.  Nobody lining the streets cheering, nobody to greet him anywhere.  That is what needs to happen in order for him to see that there are consequences for his childish, dangerous behaviour.

And That About Sums It Up

Well, well, well … after all the hoopla, all the ranting and raving by Trump and Co., the accusations against both the press and the democrats, it turns out that Trump hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, and neither did Fox News or any of the other fools who jumped in with off-the-wall conspiracy theories.  What a surprise, eh?  Turns out the bomb-maker-sender was a nutcase; a die-hard supporter of Trump who apparently thought the best way to show his love for ol’ Donnie-boy was to try to take out his ‘enemies’.

Of course, Donnie & friends immediately issued public apologies to those of us they accused of being the perpetrators, right?  HAH … what fantasy world am I living in?  As a matter of fact, those who have been referring to the bombs as a ‘false flag operation’ and blaming democrats all week long, are still blaming democrats.  FBI Director Christopher Wray clearly stated that the bombs were not ‘hoax devices’, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the accused, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, appears to be a Trump-supporting partisan with Trump stickers and anti-democrat imagery plastered over most every square inch of his van.  And still … the trumpeters play their ugly, disgusting tune.

First, Trump’s reaction to the news that it was one of his own who attempted murder:

“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”

Hey, jerkface – the news is supposed to report the news! The attempted murder of 14 people, including a former president and a former Secretary of State is far more relevant than your damn campaign rallies.  14 lives being put in danger is NEWS.  “This bomb stuff”???  What do you mean by that?  People’s lives, bucko … people’s lives! Go back to your bowl of Cheerios and leave the news to the adults, please.

“I did not see my face on the van. I heard he was a person that preferred me over others, but I did not see that.”

What. A. Jerk.

Now let’s see what some of those conservative pundits have to say …

“Two weeks out, a bunch of bombs start showing up in places that the media can then say that they are being received by ‘Trump targets?’ I’m sorry. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck ever, and certainly not yesterday, and the world of October Surprises coupled with all the other realities I just exposed, and I think it only makes sense to be suspicious and demanding of proof for whatever we’re gonna be told.” – Rush Limbaugh

“So many things about this Cesar guy do not add up. If he is #MAGA, why would he send these fake ‘bombs’ to Democrat Congressional Leaders 2 weeks before the midterms and disrupt our winning momentum? It makes no sense. That means there is something else here. This guy Cesar is looking like a “sleeper” implanted by the Democrats just for such an occasion as this.  I mean, c’mon, that van is ridiculous.” – Bill Mitchell, conservative radio host

“Michael, your description yesterday of the guy they’d pin (maga hat, confed flag,etc) sounds right on the money💰 Only thing you didn’t envision was a van slathered in pro-Trump images. Once again you were correct!  MAN AND VAN LOOK LIKE CREATED BY HOLLYWOOD.” – Michael Savage, conservative radio host, apparently speaking to himself

“From the Haymarket riot to the Unabomber, bombs are a liberal tactic.” – Ann Coulter, bitch extraordinaire.

And then this morning, a man walks into a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and starts shooting, saying, “All Jews must die!”.  Donald Trump has drawn the deplorables out from under their rocks just as effectively as salt draws the liquid out of an onion.  Eleven are left dead after the synagogue shooting, six others injured, including four police officers.  And the head joker residing in the White House says …

“If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better.”

Oh yes, Donnie-boy … the way to solve a gun problem is add more guns to the problem.  Let’s just arm every man, woman, child and service dog in the United States and see just how quickly we can wipe our nation off the map?

Okay, so in the past 6 days we have had 14 bombs mailed to people who had spoken against Trump and his policies, and 11 people have been murdered by an anti-Semite, Robert Bowers, who apparently felt empowered to take lives of people he didn’t agree with.  Sure, these people existed before Trump and they were haters and bigots before Trump.  But they didn’t crawl out from under their rocks until Trump came along and gave them his blessing to act upon their bigotry.  When the so-called president calls Mexicans, rapists, when he lies about terrorism time and time again, when he claims that all Muslims are terrorists, and yet proclaims white supremacists and Nazis to be ‘fine people’, it is a license to kill just as surely as if it were written on parchment. ADLIt will happen again, probably next week.  There will be another school shooting before the end of the year.  People will die at the hands of bigoted fools.  The republican party calls itself the ‘pro-life’ party, but you have to wonder, don’t you?  Just exactly whose life are they pro?

I read the following by John Pavlovitz this morning …

“The only reason left to support this President, is that he reflects your hateful heart; he shares your contempt of people of color, your hostility toward outsiders, your toxic misogyny, your blind bigotry, your feeling of supremacy.”

And that, folks, about sums it up.