Trigger Happy, Armed and Dangerous with Fear


New Orleans      How many times can we note that this is all just getting out of control?  A white man shoots a young Black teenager in Kansas City who shows up to pick up his even younger twin brothers, no doubt doing an errand for his family, and knocks on the wrong door on the wrong block.  A white man in rural upstate New York shoots – and kills – a young, 20-year-old white woman who was riding with a group of friends when their car turns into the wrong driveway.  They never get out of the car, but while backing up the 65-year-old man fires two shots at them with one ending in a fatality.  All of this is wrong in so many ways, and what it says about too many things in America today is tragic.

It starts with race, obviously in the Kansas City case.  Similar incidents in recent years have, many involving police, become all too common, but this is also eerily like the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, whereas a young, Black man he was walking with a hoodie and shot dead.

Access to guns without restraint and regulation has also allowed too many to be trigger-happy with a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude.  Part of this is rooted in the legislative insanity in way too many states that have passed “stand your ground” laws, which have seemingly become, in the minds of some of their adherents, a license to kill.

All of this is also a direct consequence of our divisive and unprincipled national politics, which has seeped down and bubbled up throughout the country, stoking fears of insecurity across this great land.  Headlines today from Ohio Republican Congressman and rightwing extremist Jim Jordan, who is trying to attack the credibility of the New York district attorney who had the gall to indict Trump, have him saying that “New York City is a hellscape” of crime, not based on any statistics or even his own biased hearing, but something he heard from a cabdriver.  Whether Jordan or DeSantis or Trump now, which is not to say that Democrats have not been guilty of trying to ride the “tough on crime” “crime is everywhere and rising” train to power with their collective “any means to an end” politics has poisoned the country.  Too many have drunk their Kool-Aid without reason or a second thought.  The politics of fear enables its victims and supporters to fire at will when a simple sentence might solve the problem or, in the New York case, an offer of help and a wave goodbye.

What happened to the good neighbor?  What happened to love thy neighbor? Where did common civility go?  Does anyone quote FDR anymore about “all we have to fear is fear itself?” Our presidents and generals may boast of our military might and preparedness, but we seem to have become a nation of scaredy-cats.  In training organizers, who actually knock on these same doors throughout the world, we also remind them not to be nervous, but to remember that the people on the other side of the door are more wary of them, than they are.  We’re not going to start telling them that people are now so fear-based that we need to put them in Kevlar vests before they walk on the porch and put knuckle to wood.

This has to stop now!