By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
Permit-less concealed carry and “stand your ground” laws: the deadliest possible combination. Yet, cahooting with the NRA, the Republican Party is doing everything it can to exacerbate it. It’s a party gone nuts. At this point, we may as well assume that everyone we encounter is packing and pissed; and that if we do anything considered threatening, like, for example, breathing, we could be killed.
Maybe it began with the stand-your-ground, get-out-of-jail card and subsequent lionization of George Zimmerman after he killed Trayvon Martin for carrying … Skittles. If that was lionization, what’s happened to smirking, money-begging Kyle Rittenhouse, murderer of unarmed demonstrators, is deification. A frequent guest on Fox “news,” he was just featured in a personal “Trigger Time” adventure, auctioned off by the Idaho GOP. Going even further, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is itching to pardon the cop who, after publicizing his intent to kill Black Lives Matters protestors, did so. Because he was afraid of a man who approached him after he deliberately drove into a crowd.
It’s like a MAGA credo: claim fear, stand your ground, murder at will. Or try to. An unarmed, 16-year-old Black kid knocks on the wrong door and gets shot in the head by the white homeowner, likely having stepped momentarily away from watching Fox “news.” A 20-year-old woman is killed for pulling her car into the wrong driveway. A cheerleader is shot, critically, for accidentally stepping into the wrong car in a parking lot. Could it be because right-wing leaders, their media (to get votes), and the NRA (to sell guns) are pushing fear and paranoia onto their followers like dealers selling fentanyl?
Among America’s mass murders, more in 2023 than days elapsed, one was committed by a transgendered man. Capitalizing on Trumpism’s latest ginned-up, vote-getting scapegoat for all of society’s ills, twice-impeached, two-time popular vote loser, indicted Donald Trump, promised, at the NRA convention, “Upon my inauguration, I will direct the FDA to convene an independent outside panel to investigate whether transgender hormone treatments and ideology increase the risk of extreme depression, aggression and even violence. I think most of us already know the answer.” “Ideology,” he called it. “The answer,” he said.
The smell of exploded gunpowder barely dissipated after the nearby murder of schoolchildren, and after arrogantly expelling two Black legislators demanding gun regulation, the Tennessee legislature voted down proposed red-flag laws. Take that, woke liberals!
But it’s not just committers of gun violence that Republican lawmakers are grooming. It’s people like 21-year-old Jake Teixeira, who damaged our country by stealing and sharing critical military secrets. Unlike Daniel Ellsberg, who, pilfering the Pentagon Papers, intended to expose lies about the Vietnam War, that kid just wanted to impress his online gamer pals. Nevertheless, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Fox’s Tucker Carlson, among other Trumpic lovers of Putin and his criminal war, proclaimed Teixeira a hero. To MTG, it’s because he’s “white, male, christian (sic), and anti-war.” Unmentioned, but likely equally appealing, were his racist and anti-Semitic postings.
Uninformed isn’t enough, though. Because knowledge and critical thinking are MAGA’s enemies, the ultimate goal is uneducated. Not satisfied with banning books that teach empathy and history, Republican legislatures are defunding public libraries. State officials in Louisiana asked lawmakers to ban the study of racism at universities, citing “divisive, inglorious aspects of U.S. history.” Florida just expanded bans on teaching about gender and sexuality to include high school. In several red states, laws are being passed to disallow college IDs for voting registration, and to remove polling places and drop boxes from campuses.
It’s not hard to understand why. The same goes for love for Putin and his governing style. It’s MAGA Republicans’ vision of future America: Silencing dissidents and journalists, creating and lying about enemies, having a single ruling party, an above-the-law leader, tightly-censored public education, and state-run media; ensuring perpetual power. Everything they’re doing is in service to that aim. Which, in their case, includes extremist theocracy.
Speaking of MAGA love objects, a word about the Dominion v. Fox lawsuit settlement: Disappointing. Yes, Fox will pay Dominion a ton of money, and similar suits are still pending. But they weren’t required to admit their lies. In fact, so far, they’ve barely mentioned the result. Tucker, Sean, Laura, Maria and Jeanine should have been required to state, live on their shows, every day for months, that they’ve been lying for years. To the contrary, Fox’s public (not on-air) announcement included: “This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.” That their offices weren’t immediately swallowed by the earth could be seen by some as proof that God doesn’t exist. Or that he’s Rupert Murdoch.
And speaking of God, given Republicans’ continued attacks on being “woke,” we end by noting that of all historical figures, none was more so than Jesus.
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.