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There's no such thing as overreacting. Not anymore.
I saw a video this week of a teacher who survived the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Arnulfo Reyes, shot two times, watched every single one of his fourth grade students be gunned down and killed. He said he will never forgive the police for abandoning them: “You had a bulletproof vest, I had nothing.”
It’s not possible to watch the interview—to witness this man’s pain and despair, and listen to him talk about these children—without feeling absolute rage, or bursting into tears. (In my case, it was both.)
I thought about what happened to Reyes, and the 19 children who were torn apart by bullets in their classrooms, as Mitch McConnell demanded that Democrats pass a bill to increase security protections for Supreme Court Justices. You see, police arrested an armed man for threatening Brett Kavanaugh, and McConnell wanted action that very day.
The deaths of 19 children, of course, inspired no such urgency.
Jamelle Bouie tweeted yesterday, as Republicans debated gun legislation, “There is no number of dead elementary schoolers that would get them to budge. They don’t give a shit.” And that’s absolutely right, they don’t give a shit. About anything.
They don’t give a shit about all those dead children, their bodies “pulverized” and “decapitated” by bullets from a legally-owned weapon. They don’t give a shit about stripping women of their personhood and bodily autonomy, or what it means to put someone in prison for having a stillbirth. They don’t give a shit about how incredibly dangerous it is to characterize talking to children about the mere existence of gay people as ‘grooming’, or the rank hypocrisy of expecting teachers to carry guns in the classroom while not trusting them enough to teach children about race or gender.
There is no bottom, no depth Republicans won’t sink to, because they simply don’t care.
That’s why calls for understanding, politeness and civil “debate” are so absurd. There’s no rational conversation possible with a person who could see all those children murdered and argue that what we need is more guns. There’s no debate to be had with a legislator who would liken a book about two moms to child molestation. And there’s nothing nothing useful in being polite to a politicians who would force an 11 year-old rape victim to carry a pregnancy to term.
These are not well-meaning or misguided people, and fighting back as if they are will get us nowhere. In fact, it just makes their jobs easier.
Because the more we’re debating the impropriety of protesting in front of a Supreme Court Justice’s home, the less we’re talking about a future where women are investigated for having miscarriages. And when the conversation becomes about whether or not it’s okay to interrupt a politician while at a restaurant, we’re ignoring the fact that Republicans care more about their ability to eat sushi in peace than they do about the deaths of 19 children.
Civility isn’t important, morality is. And Republicans want to focus on the former because they have none of the latter. They hope that by focusing on politeness—and painting understandable fury as improper or hysterical— Americans will forget just how unscrupulous and immoral they are.
The only acceptable response to what’s happening in this country right now is constant and prolonged rage. The kind of anger that doesn’t give a fuck about politeness or ‘politics’—the kind of outrage that understands the power of unruliness.
We need to remember: There is no such thing as overreacting. Not anymore.
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