Another heartbreaking mass shooting yesterday at a grocery store in Buffalo New York lies in the intersection of rampant gun violence, racism, white supremacy, and pure evil. While most Americans are not racist fear-mongers a significant portion apparently are. The manifesto written and uploaded to the internet by the shooter references the “replacement theory” that black and brown people will replace white people. This is based on the original theory that “Jews will not replace us” which is an antisemitic trope found in the “Blood and soil “propaganda propagated by Nazi Germany. It is a philosophy based on hate, racism, and white supremacy.
Last year, an Associated Press poll found that about a third of American adults believe an effort is afoot to “replace” U.S.-born Americans with immigrants. In addition, roughly 3 in 10 Americans think additional immigration will cause white, Americans to lose their economic, political and cultural influence.
This is dangerous thinking and fuels right-wing extremism that leads to violence. Also, while I am at it, no one in America needs a military-style assault weapon. The damage these weapons do to the human body and the number of people killed in a matter of seconds beggars the imagination. There are too many guns on the streets of America. It is a national health crisis of staggering proportions. Attention must be paid! Every day a person is killed by gun violence on the streets of Louisville, Kentucky where I live. You take your life in your hands when you are out for a walk at night. We need common-sense gun laws now to make our cities safe again.
When I moved back to Kentucky a few years ago I got into the car business for a while to make some quick easy money. I did this for a few years with a little time off to do some teaching in the Jefferson County School System.
One day while I was at the car lot a customer came in and said he wanted to take a look at that Land Rover we had on our lot. I said sure and proceeded to show it to him. During the course of our conversation I noticed a medallion hanging around his neck from a gold chain. I recognized the symbols on the medallion and I asked the man, “Say, were you ever a Philadelphia Police Officer?” “Why, yes,” he answered, “But I retired from the force to move down here.”
“Oh, I see. Well, I lived in Philly for 18 years and I recognized the medallion. What made you decide to move to Kentucky?”
“The cost of living is much cheaper here,” he answered. Which is true. “And I got a job teaching kids with learning disabilities here in Louisville. It’s an easy $50,000 a year. You should give it a try.”
“I just might,” I answered. Little did he know he was the inspiration for my short lived career as a teacher.
As we got to know each other a little better during the demonstration process he let me know that he also did a couple of tours in Iraq.
“Wow!” I said. “Let me ask you, I just have to know, what was more dangerous, Philly or Iraq?”
Without an instant’s hesitation he said Philly. I smiled because I was pretty sure I knew the answer to the question. I thanked him for his service. I didn’t sell him the car, but I got a good story out of the deal.