An American Dirge

An American Dirge

 

Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice

Philando Castile, Michael Brown

And on and on and on and on

Hero cops, and racist cops

Museums that recall genocide

Museums so we don’t forget lynchings

Two towers leveled, thousands lose their lives

Guantanamo

We mourn, tears flow, and on we go.

 

Don’t kill my buzz

Say some.

We’re trying to have a good time here.

Life is beautiful

American is beautiful.

 

Dylan Roof shoots

An African American Bible study group.

Survivors forgive him.

Adam Lanza, blighted boy,

Kills 20 six and seven year olds.

A troubled shooter ends his life

And leaves a nation drenched in tears.

Stoneman Douglas, Columbine

Captive targets, grief abides

More troubled shooters

Express their ire.

Children grow up before our eyes.

 

San Bernardino, Orlando,

Fort Hood, Aurora, Santa Fe,

Boston Strong, and Las Vegas

A marathon, some country songs

Homegrown terrorists

America mourns and mourns.

 

Don’t kill my buzz

Say some

We’re still trying to have a good time here

We’re trying to pretend

(And maybe pretending

Will someday make it so)

That America is still beautiful.

 

Charlottesville, torches

In the night,

A President allows

Displays of spite.

Democrats are demons.

Republicans will save you

(If you are rich and white

And Christian).

A leader says, “I don’t sow hate”

But 14 Democrats get bombed,

And worshippers in Temple

Are slain in prayer.

2 more troubled shooters bound for jail.

 

Freedom made America shine

Now we wallow in mourning and tears,

Again and again, they seem our fate.

Can we save our father’s dreams

And stretch them to our modern needs?

 

Americans still say don’t kill our buzz.

We’re trying to enjoy our lives out here,

And pretending that American is still the home

Of “spacious skies” and “waving grain”

“From sea to shining sea”.

 

[One dirge is not enough. We may need more. It would be great if this was our last dirge, our last moment of national mourning caused by a neighbor’s loneliness, hate, or radical thoughts. People are having a harder time pretending that life in America is basically normal because the blips on their radar are starting to burst their happiness bubble. As for those of us who can’t seem to turn away, we want to understand how to find ways to cure it. If we don’t will this ever end? Isn’t America tired of reanimating itself after each tragedy? Isn’t America tired of tears yet?]

 

 

 

 

 

“Dumbledore’s Army”

I find the whole NRA gun culture thing really weird. I shot
a gun exactly once in my life at some empty cans in the desert and I was really
bad at it. When the NRA gets all pissy and puts on its “mean” face it makes me
so angry my fists curl, but it also shocks me that this organization is able to
defend “guns everywhere” by simply saying “Second Amendment” in increasingly
threatening tones. All those lovely children were shot to death in Newtown and
these guys just protected their very loose interpretation of the Second Amendment
with paranoid claims that our own government wants to disarm us all or enslave
us all or take away our freedoms. If people roam the streets with bazookas some
day (do bazookas still exist) (OK, heat seeking missiles then) will the NRA
still defend these “guns” by shooting bullets at us with their eyes?
However, and in spite of all the things I just said, the
threats from the Middle East are giving me second thoughts about this. It does
get my dander up when someone makes threats against America. I can’t help
myself. If it came down to it I would want to defend my country and myself, but
I would be useless in that capacity. I don’t know a thing about fighting and I
don’t have enough strength to put up a very good fight. I think for women an
enemy like these jihadists is pretty scary (although the possibility of being
beheaded is also pretty darn scary) because there might no longer be a land
called America where women won the right to be treated as people (mostly).
So, although I would purely hate to do anything to support
those pretenders in the NRA, I am thinking that we might need to teach all
Americans to shoot and then arm ourselves to the teeth, just in case the
terrorists who are threatening to attack America on our own soil actually do.
But then we might be arming domestic terrorists also you might say. Well I’m
guessing that they are way ahead of the rest of us; they already have their
guns and ammo. If they are domestic terrorists we often don’t recognize that
they are dangerous until it is too late so there is no sense worrying about
them.
We might also be arming people with mental disorders, and
mentally ill people with guns have proven to be quite problematic in modern
America. Mental illness is an issue that requires the continuing attention of
professionals who understand such disorders, in combination with our government
who can work on the rules that will keep guns safely locked away when necessary. We also must
accept that in a country loaded with firearms we can never stop everyone who
believes a gun will set things straight for them. I would like to limit guns,
but this might not be the time for that.

I never wanted to own a gun, but that was because I do not
fear my own government as some Americans do. However, I don’t want people who
terrorize others to think that in America we are sitting in our houses, quaking
like aspens, and awaiting the awful fate they hope to deliver. 
So to arms, to
arms! 
It’s time for the “Room of Requirement” and “Dumbledore’s Army”; time for
a citizen’s army to be trained, as we are training foreign armies, to defend ourselves,
our nation, and our Freedom.
By Nancy Brisson

Our Shame and Our Pride

This Sunday, August 5, 2012, the news was dominated by two American events that could not be more different, but both of which express aspects of our American culture. Daytime news was dominated by an attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Sikhs might look Arabic to someone, but, if you watched The English Patient, or if you know your world religions, you know that India probably has the largest Sikh population. Yet a lone gunman who police now suspect of being a white supremacist with a “hate” agenda appeared at this church on a Sunday morning as people were arriving to worship and shot at least six people and then shot two policemen. Did he hate Sikhs; I doubt it. This man may be mentally ill, but he does not fall under that category of shooter. The problem he represents to American society is about a combination of freedom and frustration, and, perhaps, ignorance. Was he a member of a group of domestic terrorists or was he a lone political extremist with an axe to grind. We learned this Monday morning that he was discharged from the service in 1990 for “patterns of misconduct” whatever that means. It probably means that the army knew he was a misfit, with some seriously unusual beliefs and yet he was not tagged for any kind of observation. I wish I believed that our government doesn’t “watch” American citizens sometimes, just to see what they are up to, but I think some people are on the government’s radar. Why wasn’t Wade Michael Page?
Wade Page was shot to death at the site of his “military operation” so we will not ever hear what he has to say unless he left a trail in his home or his computer which will soon be revealed. Apparently he was not doing anything illegal until he walked onto the Sikh temple property and opened fire so even if he had been under government observation there is probably no way he could have been stopped. So what do we do about a man like Mr. Page who could kill us anytime he took a dislike to us. We probably can’t do anything about the Wade Michael Pages who live in America without destroying the very freedom we believe in. All we can do is share the grief of the Sikh community and find out as much information as possible about Wade Page. Perhaps we can find a balance between our love of freedom and our instincts that are against allowing domestic terrorists room to operate in America, but, maybe we can’t.
The second news that dominated TV on Sunday was speculation about whether a Mars rover named Curiosity, a little science lab about the size and weight of a small SUV, would land successfully in the Gale Crater on Mars at 1:31 am Monday morning. Guess what America; we’ve got this! The landing was a great success and if you were watching in the small hours of the  night you could have wooted with the NASA landing team who celebrated at their equipment modules. So America grieved all day and celebrated all night and it was a fairly atypical American Sunday, our shame and our pride on clear view all within a period of about 12 hours.

Having Our Cake and Eating it Too

What to do with the terrorism inmates, especially those in Guantanamo, has been an ongoing dilemma that almost no one in America knows how to solve. We believe in the civil rights of all people and we hate to compromise the ideals of America by violating anyone’s civil rights (which include the rights to be considered innocent until proven guilty, the right to a speedy trial, and the right to an appropriate sentence in the case of conviction). Because of what we value for ourselves it feels wrong to put people in jail indefinitely without a trial as we seem to have done in the case of the inmates at Guantanamo.
But we also live in a post 9/11 world where we have experienced the unthinkable, an attack by a foreign group on American soil. Except for Pearl Harbor, which happened within the context of a world war, we have never experienced such an attack. The attacks of 9/11 brought us grief, and anger and fear, pride in the heroism of ordinary Americans, and an intense sense of patriotism. The fear, the grief, and the anger speak to the dilemma we have when it comes to Guantanamo. It seems wrong to set people loose who tried to bring America to its knees and who may still be sworn enemies who will try to bring us to grief again; but it also goes against the grain to hold them without trial.
At various times there have been suggestions that these “detainees” be transferred to other venues and tried; recently NYC was mentioned. Congress is now trying to pass a bill calling for a plan to make the military responsible for trying terrorists. Opponents have some problems with this process. In the NYT’s Scott Shane says that “military tribunals have proved excruciatingly slow and imprisonment at Guantanamo hugely costly – $800,000 per inmate a year, compared with $25,000 in federal prison. Other articles I have read felt that civilian agencies would lose access to valuable intelligence if control was given to the military. Homegrown terrorists have been dealt with in our courts and are serving long sentences in federal prisons. The prisoners in Guantanamo and future terrorists arrested by America are the focus of this new plan.
Although we can understand the objections to trying these terrorist in military courts we still are left with our civil rights’ issues and our fear issues. Knowing what we don’t want to happen does not necessarily tell us what we do want to happen. Will we recognize the correct approach when someone finally designs it? What we really want is to keep these terrorists as prisoners indefinitely without violating American ethics, we want to have our cake and eat if too. Maybe there is no way to be the good guys and the bad guys at the same time.
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