Thursday, September 3, 2015

You Will Know Us By the Trail of Our Dead

A week ago, I vented no small amount of frustration with the prevalence of gun violence in America, a frustration furiously stoked by the killing in Virginia of 2 TV journalists, Allison Parker and Adam Ward, live on camera. It was a particularly cruel and cowardly act of gun violence that burned its way into our collective psyches.




However that post is indicative of the larger problem of addressing gun violence in America. It takes a particularly nasty twist to get our attention and for me to write a blog post about it. But people are dying virtually every day, fatal victims of guns and the unchecked people who use them.



The past week has seen the shooting deaths of two police officers, one in Texas and another in Illinois. Unlike the reporters in Virginia…or the women in the movie theater in Louisiana…or the church goers in South Carolina…or, well you get the idea. Unlike them, there is a tacit acceptance by a police officer that their life may be in danger every time they put on a uniform. It’s a danger that goes with the job. But nobody expects cops should be led to the slaughter like so much cattle. 



The police officer in Illinois was the eighth law enforcement officer shot and killed in the U.S. in the last month and the fourth in 10 days. During the last 12 months, six officers appear to have been targeted specifically because they worked in law enforcement. (For more info, click here.)  There are people using the police for target practice and there is no way in hell to justify that.


Yes, cops have not been getting a lot of good press lately, what with several cases of police officers shooting and killing unarmed black men and other questionable actions if not outright miscarriages of justice. We should hold the police to account for those transgressions. The police are here to protect and to serve. It’s right there on their badge. If we don’t feel protected or well served, that needs to be corrected quickly and completely.



But the transgressions of certain police officers are not just cause to declare open season on them all. In our gun crazy culture, that is exactly what is happening. And it needs to stop. America is a beautiful country with so much potential for greatness.  Her citizens and the police officers who have chosen to defend them should not have to live in a war zone. And make no mistake, we are in a war zone.


Last week, the deaths of Allison Parker and Adam Ward made me angry. But they were just the latest in a too damn long line of victims of guns and more have been added to the line since then. By the time I post this, I imagine that the police officer in Illinois, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, age 52, a 30 year veteran and father of four boys, will have new additions to the line behind him. How much longer does that line need to grow?







Can we find real change to this fatal circumstance or we resigned to the fact that this is who we are? Is this who we are, stuck in this slaughterhouse of our own making? Because the rest of the world is looking at us and wondering what is wrong with us.
 


Is this who we are? We are America. You will know us by the trail of our dead. 




Is this who we want to be? 
 



Mourners attend a vigil at Lakefront Park to honor the memory of Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz on Wednesday in Fox Lake, Ill. (Nam Y. Huh / AP)

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