Being an American parent in the early 21st century means standing over your child as she sleeps and trying desperately not to imagine her body torn apart by bullets shot from a machine designed specifically to kill humans.
That's where I found myself Tuesday night after hours of soul-crushing doom scrolling about the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas. I tried to take in the beauty of my kids as they slept the sort of peaceful sleep reserved only for children, and I could not. Horrifying images ran through my mind's eye. I was shaken. I still am.
I thought of the kids in Uvalde who were likely unrecognizable after a gunman filled their little bodies with bullets. I thought of their parents having to identify their mutilated remains in the morgue when they would normally be preparing dinner or getting their babies ready for bed. I thought of the blood and gore, the endless trauma that will ruin the lives of those who survived our country's latest massacre. Their classmates' corpses will live forever in their minds. They should live in ours too, and we should be forced to cast our eyes on the classroom carnage. Pictures of these massacres should be released, should be shown on every news channel in the country. We should be shaken out of our collective complacency by the horrors of reality.
When I drove my kids to school on Wednesday morning, a pall over the place, I averted my gaze as their classmates filed out of buses and cars because I did not want to imagine them shredded to pieces, reduced to bloody pulps. I looked away at the kindly old lady who every morning waves goodbye to parents at drop off because I couldn't bare to imagine her with a hole through her head.
These gun massacres are traumatizing on a national level. They are a collective trauma that sticks to our souls for the rest of our lives. Kids – babies – being mowed down by insane gunmen with easy access to weapons of war sickens the soul. We are polluted, never to be the same. We are the only people on earth who fear our children will be murdered by a madman every day we send them off to school.
We have tears of rage, tears of impotence, tears of terror. We close our eyes and imagine what it would be like to have our babies riddled with bullets, torn from us by a monster, our monster, a monster made by us. Our tears are hot; they burn with a longing for justice, for wrong made right, for people paying for their evil deeds. Let your tears run. Don't wipe them. Cry for those who have been wrenched from this world.
Professional contrarians will offer statistics and trends that say, well actually, school shootings are fine and probably won't affect you or your kids. Guys like Matthew Yglesias, that unconscionable fucking egghead motherfucker, that horrible little cretin, will log on and tell everyone that the United States is still a great place to live despite the weekly mass shootings made possible by the gun industry and their pitiable congressional servants. Nearly 20 kids and their teachers are slain by an 18-year-old radicalized by the internet and Yglesias and his ilk have the gall to tell Americans they should be grateful to live here, in this blood-soaked place, this 350-million person death cult, this hopeless, rapidly collapsing neo-Roman civilization. You are, in fact, deeply unlucky to live here.
Then there's the bad faith response to these killings made possible by the Second Amendment, the NRA, the gun lobby, and lawmakers whose job it is to ensure the murders continue unabated. Bad-faith savants like Senator Ted Cruz – whose amorality practically drips from his pores – stand up after these massacres and say the solution is not fewer guns, but more guns. Somehow Cruz says this with a straight face. Educators need guns. Students need guns. Give the fucking janitor an AR-15. Give the lunch lady a fucking grenade launcher. The fucking secretary should be strapped like Rambo.
This, not coincidentally, boosts the bottom line of the gun manufacturers Cruz is paid to protect at all costs. There are pools of children's blood in the classrooms of his god forsaken home state and all Cruz can do is advocate for the further proliferation of guns, ignoring, of course, that the big bad warrior cops finally had their chance to stop one of these murderous motherfuckers and they utterly failed. A bunch of supposed good guys with guns had a real opportunity to stop a massacre and they couldn't, or didn't, or lost their nerve, or shit their pants. Cops seem so good at indiscriminately killing people; what happened here? Why could they not discriminately kill the bad guy? They failed, and now 19 kids and two adults are dead.
Cruz unleashed a torrent of bad faith in the hours and days after police meandered around an elementary school while a gunmen pumped bullets into the bodies of small children. Among the most insulting, intellectually dishonest bad-faith arguments of this or any other century: The idea, pushed primarily by Cruz, that Door Control was the key to stopping school massacres. What's door control, you ask? You idiot, your moron, door control is when schools have a single door through which everyone must enter and exit. This, per Cruz and others who have received the NRA's vile talking points, is the key to stemming the bloody tide of children be murdered by Americans with machines of war. It's mind melting bad faith. It's soul-killing bad faith. Door control is the epitome of bad faith politics. In fact, I should rename this site Door Control.
The bad faith has poured in from every major media outlet in America: Those paid handsomely to make sure gun manufacturers never lose a dime will do whatever they can to confuse the issue, to attack anyone pushing for the most mundane, common sense gun control measures, until we forget about this and move on to the next tragedy, the next crisis, for there is never a shortage of crises here in America. Bad-faith politics in the aftermath of gun massacres is a critically important tool in maintaining the status quo and keeping the money flowing to gun manufacturers. We will be told by Republican lawmakers that it's the video games, or mental health, or the lack of red-blooded alpha males at the head of American households – that these are the factors that lead to mass murders.
They will say this as if they give a shit about mental health or video games or families. They don't. This is all argued in bad faith – the pure, unfiltered kind. The gun lobby's well-dressed D.C. slaves are fine with classrooms littered with the remains of dead children. They have no problem with that. Some of them, I'm sure, like it. If they had a problem with gun massacres – if it bothered them even a little bit – they would have done something about it ten or 12 or 14 years ago. These people, mostly Republicans, can say they're praying for the victims and their families all they want. They cannot possibly mean that. I hope their prayers are rejected. I hope God hears their prayers and spits in their faces. I hope hell is real only so these people can be tormented for all eternity. I hope the devil saves the worst shit for them.
Don't let the bad-faith arguments distract you. Don't get caught up with those who would obfuscate the issue at hand: The Second Amendment must be repealed – as former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens believes – the federal government must either buy back guns or forcibly remove them from every home in the country, and gun manufacturers must be shut down and their higher ups tried for murder. We must be disarmed. There is no other viable solution, no half measure that can stop the bloodshed. Active shooter drills, that horrifyingly dystopian term, do nothing to protect school kids because today's schoolhouse killers know how to exploit the drills' weak spots, for they too were in school three or five or seven years ago, told by teachers to curl up in their cubbies while a man with a machine gun rampaged in the hallway. The killers know the drill. They can only be stopped if they do not have access to firearms of any kind. No American should.
Children are being slain in our schools. They're being taught to hide when the Big Bad Man with a machine gun purchased at Walmart comes traipsing through their hallways. Unlike their grandparents, who were taught to hide under desks when the Ruskies drop their bombs, today's children prepare to come face to face with the Reaper.
For Baby Boomers, the Reaper was in an underground bunker east of Moscow, his finger on the big red button. For our children – our babies – the pimple-faced Reaper emerges from his mother's basement, armed to the teeth, poisoned by the internet, intent on taking life in a nation ruled by human beings who would sooner bathe in the blood of children than regulate gun manufacturers.
Follow Denny Carter on Twitter at @CDCarter13 for maximum alienation.