Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Fourth of July, 2022

Augustus Saint Gaudens, "Adams Memorial" (Smithsonian Museum of American History)

     Early this morning, I thought, "Well, I'll just take a photo of something at the Fourth of July parade, and comment on that for Tuesday." There's always something fun or noteworthy at the parade. A politician doing cartwheels. A brass band. Some unexpected business float. I seldom miss it. Who doesn't love a parade?
    Of course there was no 4th of July parade in Northbrook, or Evanston, or many other area communities, out of respect for those slaughtered at the parade in Highland Park. Six dead, three dozen wounded. Plus a security concern, since the shooter was still at large until late in the day. 
    Besides, nobody was in the celebratory spirit. Except perhaps for GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, who really did react to the shooting by saying "let's move on and let's celebrate the independence of this nation." After all, 90 whole minutes had gone by, and while the killer was still on the loose, no reason to let a detail like that get in the way of a good party. 
     Though to be fair, Bailey did later apologize for being a heartless asshat, though not in those words.  Maybe he'll gather the fortitude to also apologize for carrying water for a traitor whose policies encourage this and every other gun crime. But don't hold your breath. Guys like that don't change: guns first, people second.
     I have nothing else to add, at this moment. I began writing a column, but that'll run in the paper Wednesday, and I don't want to cannibalize it for this. When I got the news, my wife and I were on my way to visit my mother in her rehab facility in Arlington Heights, across from the hospital where she spent more than a month. We were stopping by a Jewel to pick up chocolate. My sister-in-law phoned my wife. 
     "Oh my God..." my wife said. "Oh. My. God!" I looked at her. "What? What?"
     I walked into the store, phoning my editor at the paper. "Henneni," I said, for some unfathomable reason. "Here I am." It's what Moses says when God calls to him on Mount Sinai. But they didn't need me to race up to Highland Park. Our veteran political columnist, Lynn Sweet, was already on the scene, and had turned in photographs of several bodies, draped in sheets, lying in pools of blood. I looked at the photos on our Slack channel and any desire to be part of the story drained away. They were ghastly. The paper was discussing whether they could be printed. 
     "Run them," I said. They didn't, which is probably the right call. If it were my mother, I would not want to see those in the paper, and it isn't as if they would move the deadlock of the issue an inch. There is enough horror in the world without the media making it worse by waving the bloody shirt. We are supposed to afflict the comfortable, yes, but we're also supposed to comfort the afflicted. And there were many, many afflicted, heartsick people on the North Shore Monday as it was, and very little in the way of real comfort to offer.

11 comments:

  1. Bailey probably did as much damage to his losing campaign as Pritzker will do to him with his ads that are still running to define Bailey as a heartless pro-forced birth creep.
    Bailey is the guy who does more damage to himself, every time he opens his moronic mouth & his true beliefs, that guns are more important than people, especially women come spewing out!
    I wonder if he understands, that today's cracks guaranteed his losing in November!

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    1. I sure hope so, Clark. Illinois is the island of blue sanity in this sea of red that surrounds us, and if heaven forbid that asshat should become governor, I don't know what we'll have left.

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    2. Today's Americans have extremely short memories, and even shorter attention spans. Which means that those snide comments of "Let's move on and let's celebrate our independence" guarantee little or nothing. There are NO guarantees anymore. Ask President Hillary. Didn't you learn anything at all from the disastrous results of 2016?

      I am not deliberately trying to be snarky here, but I have always noticed a direct connection between the number of casualties in a mass shooting in America and the amount of time it fades from the news cycle and the American consciousness. The greater the carnage, the longer it takes the media and the internet to stop talking about it.

      The Texas horror (by which I mean the latest one, as there have been too damn many Texas horrors) had intensive coverage for three straight weeks, as did Newtown. The massacre in Buffalo? About a week. This one? I give it maybe a week or ten days. Dozens dead always upstages ten dead, which trumps six. Sadly, but truthfully, there's always another one in the pipeline.

      The location and setting also have a lot to do with it. A school gets more wall-to-wall coverage than a hip-hop nightclub. A supermarket in a black neighborhood will get less time (as measured in days) than an upscale suburb. A parade will get more coverage than a church. There's almost a ranking and a hierarchy now. Jews, especially in synagogues, will get more ink than Asians or gays or other groups. Kids over adults. Whites over Blacks And on and on, and so it goes.

      As for graphic images, they were routinely much worse, back in the day, and long before the demise of Emmett Till. In the 30s and 40s there was this freelance crime scene guy in New York, whose nickname was Weegee...and he used to ...but I've already said enough. Probably too much.

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    3. Weegee, AKA Arthur Fellig, often staged his photos. The dead bodies were real, but the various things around them were placed by him, to make them more sellable.

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  2. The founding fathers, when they wrote the 2nd amendment (a well regulated militia), lived in a world with muzzle loading, single shot weapons. Conservatives like to talk about the original intent of the founders - until the 2nd amendment is discussed. The NRA and GOP and the conservative Supreme Court have hypocritically created an America where every lunatic in the country has access to high capacity battlefield weaponry. What happened to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of those of us who aren't gun Onanists and GOP death cult members? The blood of every mass shooting victim is on the NRA, the GOP and every knuckle headed voter that enables them.

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  3. Media NEEDS to run those photos. It would be our Emmett Till moment. These shootings are sanitized, we never see the bodies and the blood. Maybe if people saw the carnage, something would be done.

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  4. Illinois has a Red Flag Law. This shooter apparently has been leaving red flags for some time: fetishizing of mass killers, the tattoos, dropping out of school, suicide threats, etc. Where are his parents, other family, friends? Someone knew this was going to happen. You have to be 25 to rent a car, but an 18-year-old can legally buy a weapon of war. How can gun nuts (I think of the image you posted recently of the guy with a bunch of guns on his lawn) think their right to own 20 AKs supersedes our right to life. What the hell is wrong with us?

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  5. It's the new normal. I don't know what will bridge the ideological divide of this country as each side draws information from sources they want to believe and ignore the inconvenient truths of opposing sources. Long gone are the days of Cronkite, and Huntley and Brinkley. And now that fewer people read newspapers (print or digital) legit news sources such as the WAPO, NY Times, and Chicago's daily's don't reach those who need it most.

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  6. In my neighborhood , just a few hours after this horrific event, people were "celebrating" the 4th. I mentioned this to my colleague today at work . He lives in Highland Park . He said fireworks were being lit nearby and cookouts. If people in the same community as the victims can shrug off their senseless deaths do distant strangers genuinely care? Thoughts and prayers my ass.
    I am anguished by these events but have no suggestions for preventative solutions. More laws? Many existing laws were broken by this shooter and all those that went before him. Make more laws please. I've my doubts it will change anything

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  7. The Right doesn't care about the innocents slain upon their Conservative altar. While our justice system is predicated on setting the guilty free rather than convicting the innocent, they long for the old posse justice, hang 'em all and let God sort 'em out. We also see it in the pro-lifers who would let mothers perish when an abortion could save their lives. I just heard that Florida eliminated the fee for gun registration. The money was distributed to law enforcement agencies in the state. The shortfall means that Gov. DeSantis has defunded police in his state. Highland Park has been a frequent stop for me, returning from the VA, to catch a movie at the theaters there, shop at Uncle Dan's, or the used book store owned by Art Shay's widow. I am glad she didn't see this violence where she had created such joy.

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