America, I don’t know where to put my anger.
Sunday night I saw something just posted about the Orlando shootings, and Monday morning, I woke to learn fifty people were slain, at the hand of one of the 50, who picked out weapons to do a deed. Fifty-three more were critically wounded.
Fifty people are a lot of people.
And I saw no protests. I saw only one person polychrome their net profile in rainbow shades, a far cry from Charlie Hebdo and related attacks when only (only) 17 people were slain and the world was a storm. After Orlando, and its 50 bodies, there were no angry mobs descending on the NRA headquarters, or storming Congress in the thousands to demand change.
Nothing. Right there in America. Disneyworld.
Maybe everyone else has been angry all day, too, and the kitten videos and photos of kids and front porch ferns and veggie patches and kitchen renovations and well-cooked filet mignon, all over Facebook, are an effort to remind each other life goes on. We can fool ourselves it all really is going ok.
Or maybe it really is because some, or many, of the victims were gay. I think it’s actually much more alarming. It seems to me there is no limit anymore to the amount of horror we can absorb, because we’ll just moan about how Justin Bieber has still not been deported to Canada.
Fifty people? I mean, it’s America. We can do 50 people.
Call the shooter ISIS, call him a homophobe, call him a hater, a terrorist. All those descriptions he might have claimed; might have owned with authority.
The title for me does not matter, but the pathway Omar Mateen took to complete the resolve of his hate does matter. America, you have been more than accommodating. Whether he planned to murder one person or fifty, the warning signs attached to this particular young man’s history should have denied him a firearm.
One simple background check. A few taps on a keyboard, and perhaps those 50 people would be alive. Fifty-three would be whole. Obama was absolutely right.
So fifty people will never wake up again. They will never dream, or love, or fret, worry about a bill, see a doctor about an ingrown toenail, check a school grade, get a paycheck. They won’t flick the fuse when the lights go out.
Their dog will look for them, their bicycle will be sold, clothes given away, or their room preserved for the lifetime of their beloved one.
If each of those people had a life that touched only another 20 lives, the impact is not those 50 people, but 1000 people looking for that touch. Or more. Probably more.
Maybe one was a teacher who profoundly altered a life. Perhaps another was the sole carer for someone with a disability, dependent or aged and frail. Their AA sponsor. An only son or daughter, a husband or wife.
Maybe someone keeps looking for their mail because their carrier hasn’t shown up and their shift can’t be covered. A cat might die in an apartment because that one guy didn’t have any friends, and he hoped to find the love of his life that night, but it didn’t happen, and nobody in his building knew him.
It seems their rights to live are trumped by the right to bear arms against an enemy.
The enemy has been innocent people having a night out, seeing a movie, opening the wrong door, getting to high school on time, and in the case of Sandy Hook, being children.
I don’t have to enumerate the losses. The world media has splashed the numbers of the dead and 53 wounded onto our laps.
Thank god for the stain remover of social media, because its efficiency seems to have done the job. The largest mass shooting in America’s history has barely budged us to care.
Facebook created those reaction emoticons just at the perfect time, because there were more than a few weepy dot heads. Likes can’t cut it when you’re talking about mass homicide.
Of course I’m an American, now living abroad these 13 years, and in many respects, a cynical observer of the seeming abandonment of American civic understanding.
Democracy seems to have been left in the cupboard, and our right to vote just part of history 101, because it is clear the average person finds it easier to state their dismay at yet another massacre in the clinical safe space of the internet, because that’s where the murders reside until they don’t.
I’m doing it right here; basking in my own safe space. Writing a post that will barely travel. It’s not sexy, revelatory in any embarrassing way people can read and feel relief they’re not the only one with humiliating itchy places, or history of tragic relationships.
But I am tremendously angry. And here, in Australia, where I feel incredibly impotent, America, I don’t know where to put my anger.