I’m Not the Reason We Can’t Have Nice Things
Back in the 60’s, I was raised in what was considered a traditional American home. I had two parents who loved each other very much. Aside from the size of our brood, we pretty much looked like every other family we knew. I think a good deal of learning how to live in a civilized society actually came from growing up in a crowded field of siblings. You learn early how to negotiate, how to give and take, how to share and the value of kindness. There was a sense of oneness among us. If you fought one of the Baker kids, you’d best be prepared to take on something that looked like backfield of the Chicago Bears. We were an intimidating lot if you decided to be cruel. We were the best friends you could ever have if you treated us decently. They were all lessons that made me a good, kind and decent human being – and a fiercely loyal friend. I’d like to think those were the lessons that made me a good citizen of my country.
We were dirt poor. We had essentially nothing, but we had each other and we were loved. Mom and Dad both worked hard to keep us fed and clothed. What we lacked in material things we made up for in character. No matter how tough times were, if an extra mouth showed up at our dinner table, there was somehow always enough. A few ignorant souls looked down on us for being poor. Mostly people commented to my parents what well-behaved and good kids we were and didn’t seem to notice the poverty so much. Back then, you weren’t shamed for being poor like you are now. The 60’s were a turbulent time. My dyed-in-the-wool-decades-before-his-time Dad initiated the most interesting conversations at the dinner table and it was where I learned history lessons and the importance of understanding how to treat other people. He simply would never have tolerated us looking down on someone of another race or religion and had we used an epithet, he’d have worn us out with his belt. I can still hear his voice telling us: “If I see you looking down on anyone, you’d better be offering them a hand up off the ground.” He was just that kind of man and despite some very human flaws, he was the finest man I ever knew.
It’s weeks like this when I miss him most. Dad had an uncanny ability to make order out of chaos that came from an amazing understanding of human nature and a forgiveness for it that I do not possess. It’s difficult to make sense of our country when bad is good, down is up, wrong is right and Donald Trump can mock a disabled person and somehow get away with it. Marco Rubio can tell crazy people that God’s law is way more important than the laws of this country, so if you feel so moved to break any of them in the name of Jesus, well, by all means. A dash cam of a Chicago police officer pumping 16 rounds into a 17 year old kid who was walking away was hidden for a year. Worse, a gang of his fellow officers retreated to a fast food restaurant to destroy evidence – but only the shooter was charged with a crime. Peaceful protesters of another police shooting in Minneapolis were the victims of White Supremacists who decided to used them for target practice, yet no one wants to use the word “terrorists” when speaking of the perpetrators. Syrian refugees with nothing more than the clothes on their backs are being called terrorists by rich white men who want to be President when they’ve done nothing to deserve it and are largely victims of a mess in their country created by perhaps the stupidest man ever to be elected to the highest office in this country. The week was topped off by another pissed off white guy who killed 3 people including a police officer as he held hostages inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic.
Before the bodies could even be collected, a right-wing nut from Congress said that if Planned Parenthood wasn’t the intended target of a White Terrorist, ahem, lone wolf attack, then Planned Parenthood ‘owes Murica an apology‘. That was when my Tourette’s pretty much kicked in. To think that it started out as a mall shooting and conveniently ended at a Planned Parenthood clinic is just too cute by half.
Fox News spent the afternoon contorting themselves into pretzels trying to convince their viewers that another angry white guy with a gun was just trying to rob a bank and the doors to Planned Parenthood made a convenient hiding place.
Chicken Noodle News spent the afternoon interviewing Cindy Lou from the Kwik Kuts who was hiding in the salon stock room with her manager, Tiffany. Cindy Lou’s cousin’s boyfiend’s best friend’s brother in law is a cop and his wife was texting them updates so they could share them on live television. Turns out none of what she said was pertinent or accurate – so CNN is in no danger of having their reputation for pointless violence porn impugned. Journalism is dead.
Meanwhile, on Social Media, several of us were monitoring the Colorado Springs scanner channels. Two friends, an ex-cop and a former police dispatcher accurately interpreted the chaos for us. Their help was accurate and invaluable. The Colorado Springs Police Department did a commendable job Friday and their efforts saved lives.
Thursday was Thanksgiving and we spent all day trying desperately to appreciate what little we have left so that a good many of us could use Friday to elbow and punch our way to ‘good deals‘. In the middle of the kicking and punching and name-calling *what passes for conversation these days*, another angry white man decided to take his freedom pertecker out and Second Amendment at least 4 cops and 8 citizens while terrorizing a bunch of women providing heath services for poor people at a Planned Parenthood clinic. He did this no doubt because all he knows he sees on Fox News, because Carly Fiorina assured us that Planned Parenthood was harvesting fetuses for body parts and money and because Marco Rubio says that ‘God’s Law” is all that matters – not man’s law. I’ve yet to figure out where they draw their divine inspiration to terrorize women doing cancer screenings, breast exams and pap smears for poor women from their Bible, but then, I don’t ascribe to the Republican Bible.
Carly Fiorina should be named as an accessory in every single one of the bullets fired Friday. This will give Donald Trump a chance to think up something truly disgusting to say about the victims – I’m sure he’ll tell the world tomorrow he was there to witness ‘thousands and thousands of Arabs and Muslims cheering on the shooter” while Mumblin’ Ben Carson is on another channel saying he saw it too. Lindsey Graham will have been too overcome to comment and is at this moment being rocked gently in John McCain’s loving arms because the ‘head-loppers is a ‘comin‘” while Chris Christie bellows how he could have taken down the shooter with a mere dirty look. Jebya will sit there looking eerily like his idiot brother, hiding his autographed copy of “My Pet Goat” behind his back. It’s a Bush family favorite in times of crisis.
And all through this, I’m getting anonymous hate mail from a man threatening to ‘protect’ a gutless Liberal like me when ‘shit goes down’ with his Freedom Pertecker – as he suggests I have an unnatural relationship with my father and that I make a living in the world’s oldest profession. Of course Facebook tells me his missive in no way violates their ‘Community Standards’. What standards?
No one should be surprised that the White Terrorist, ahem, Lone Wolf was taken alive and how he will be adjudged crazy but sane enough to stand trial. He’ll go to prison and white men everywhere will flock to gun stores to keep That One in Our WHITE House from grabbing their guns and sending them all to FEMA Camps.
They should be less surprised that absolutely nothing will be done about the gun epidemic in this country. While tomorrow America can resume its pushing and shoving and punching people out in the name of Jesus for a big screen TV, I’ll be locked securely in my house with Cat Stevens, grateful that I have no interest in participating in the seasonal carnage that is the celebration of their Blessed Saviour. All the while the Christian Right will squall that I’m the reason we can’t have nice things because of my ‘War on Christmas’.
I’ve got a newsflash for you people – I’m not the reason we can’t have nice things and the only people giving your religion a bad name are American Christians. So tomorrow State Run Television can pursue their relentless lies about what happened Friday, continue their wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump’s disgusting comment du jour and blame President Obama for politicizing a tragedy while calling Friday’s shooting everything but what it was – Domestic Terrorism.
I, in the meantime, will go back to work for too little money and no benefits and use my meager means to spend money on socks and personal grooming kits for the homeless…
… because that’s how I roll. Seems you can take the decency out of my country but you can’t beat it out of me. And I’ve got news for the crazy Christians, there are more like me out here. As you whine about red Starbucks cups and Reese’s peanut butter trees that don’t look enough like trees for you, I’ll be celebrating diversity, treating poor people with respect and generally pissing you off as often as possible.
Because I’m a giver.