“On behalf of all Americans, I’d like to express my deepest sympathies and sorrow for the victims and their families. We ask God to comfort and heal those who are suffering and we hope that there will be a full and quick recovery of the injured.“
Those were the words our "president" chose to mark the Labor Day weekend, along with his usual snarking about how others have let him down or disappointed him and a heaping helping of self-congratulation. It occurred to me that particular sentiment is one that has come dripping out of so many social media outlets over the past few years that it is, essentially, meaningless. I did not know if he was referring to the victims of a hurricane or a mass shooting. There was no solace. There was no comfort, even though he asked God personally for help in that area. It was just a placeholder. It was a comment to fill the emptiness left by the loss of life.
Which might be more understandable if there was truly nothing anyone could do about catastrophes like the one that took place in Midland, and El Paso, and Dayton, and Gilroy and all those other cities and towns that join the list of the inevitable. Horrible and unforgivable because we have become conditioned to accept the way we allow Americans to die. This is not a matter of hurricane season or fire season. This is open season. We fill in the blanks with the number of victims and the name of the city and paint over the whole mess with a coat of thoughts and prayers.
When a hurricane is spotted on radar, we encourage people to evacuate. Or seek shelter. Or collect supplies to help them get through the storm. There is currently no such tracking system for mass shootings. We simply react. After the fact. Our "president" has suggested using nuclear weapons to keep hurricanes away from our country, which is infinitely more assertive than his approach to dealing with mass shootings. But, since detonating a nuclear weapon in a hurricane would produce a bigger, radioactive hurricane, maybe his response to both of these catastrophes are on a par. Thoughts and prayers aren't essentially radioactive, but doing nothing continues to cost lives.
And not just the dead and the wounded. The families that are torn apart. The empty chairs that have to be explained. The classes that will forever be remembered by their In Memoriam page. And then there's Matt Schaefer, Republican Representative for the Texas House from Tyler which is just four hundred or so miles from the site of the most recent Texas Mass Shooting. He lurched out into the light hours after the bodies had been cleared to make his stand: “I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans. Period.” And “YES to giving every law-abiding single mom the right to carry a handgun to protect her and her kids without permission from the state, and the same for all other law-abiding Texans of age.”
The terrifying point is that for some, the solution to hurricane devastation is more hurricanes.