Political Matters – June 2022

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By Mordecai Specktor

Gun violence in the U.S.A.
It’s impossible to keep track of mass shootings in this country over recent years. (If you Google “mass shooting,” the second option that appears is “mass shooting today.”) In addition to the mundane gun violence is U.S. towns and cities, the month of May saw two horrific mass shootings.

On May 14, an 18-year-old gunman went into the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., and murdered 10 people and injured three others. As in similar racist outrages, the shooter, who livestreamed the carnage on Twitch, wrote a manifesto and cited the “Great Replacement” (or “white genocide”) conspiracy theory, which posits that Jews and global elites are bringing in non-white migrants to “replace” citizens of European ancestry. In Buffalo, 11 of the 13 people shot were Black, and the perp has been charged with first-degree murder (10 counts), “domestic terrorism motivated by hate,” etc.

Ten days after the attack in Buffalo, a lone shooter got into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and murdered 19 students and two teachers. (There is an ongoing controversy about the Uvalde police response, or lack thereof, during the ghastly shooting spree.) Of course, the crime evoked the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children, ages six and seven, were murdered, along with six staff members.

Nothing was done after Sandy Hook to reform U.S. gun laws, and likely nothing will happen after the Buffalo and Uvalde killings. Republican elected officials are in thrall to the NRA, a radical gun rights group that poses a clear and present danger to U.S. society, and they will block any sensible gun reform legislation that comes before the U.S. Senate. You know, “thoughts and prayers” – and pass the ammo.

The U.S. is a sick society. The rampant gun violence is one symptom of the dysfunction in the country. Also in early May, someone leaked a draft decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States. The right-wing abortion opponents, including the Catholic Church, have played the long game, a span of nearly 50 years, to overturn Roe.

The good Christian folks even supported a degenerate, incompetent narcissist for president in 2016, in the hope that the amoral sexual predator would appoint Supreme Court justices that would ban abortion. Annexing a woman’s right to control her own body is just the first step with this sorry lot.

Gay rights, including same-sex marriage, could soon be thrown overboard by the increasingly right-wing high court. We really don’t need a Christian fascist regime ruling the U.S.

As it happens, we’re saddled with an anachronistic governing structure that was created by a group of slavers who, among other things, didn’t regard American Indians as human beings. The result is a national legislature that gives disproportionate power to the right-leaning precincts in the country: California has two U.S. senators, just like Wyoming.
We are at a juncture where a faction of the citizenry is adamant about protecting fetuses, but schoolchildren can take their chances with heavily armed, homicidal maniacs. We have the Second Amendment to the Constitution that says, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

But we don’t have a “well-regulated Militia,” we have a bunch of lunatics buying AR-15s and extended magazines, and shooting up schools, supermarkets, shopping malls, movie theaters, churches, synagogues and the odd military base.

#IndigenousTikTok
On the lighter side, I’m pretty sure that “Political Matters” hasn’t delved into TikTok over the last 20 years or so. However, this online diversion has some fascinating creators from the Indigenous world. For example, Jayroy Makokis (@jayroymakokis), from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation (Alberta, Canada) demonstrates how to create rawhide for a drumhead from a moose hide, and other things to do on a sunny -24 degrees day.

And I’ve been fascinated by the videos uploaded by Adrian Angelico (@arctic_melody), a Sámi, trans (he/him), opera singer from northern Norway, who often wears the colorful garb of his reindeer-herding people living around the Arctic Circle. His lovely voice and sense of humor have attracted some 50,000 followers on the platform.

There are many Indigenous TikTokers (or is it Tiktokkers?) illuminating Native lifeways, expounding on environmental issues, and encouraging others to practice kindness and gratitude.

And if you get tired of #IndigenousTikTok, there’s the Hydraulic Press Channel (@hpc_official), where you can watch a book, a clock or a Barbie doll get smashed to smithereens.