Friday, June 19, 2015

"Dave, What is Wrong with America...?"

I met a good friend of mine for coffee yesterday in Central London. She is also an American who married a Brit, and has lived here for nearly two decades. As we were catching up on the details of each other's lives, families etc; the subject of moving back to the United States, came up.

I moved here to the UK, because at the time of our wedding, it was not possible for me to sponsor Eric to move to the US. This was due to legalized discrimination against same sex couples through the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA). I have blogged extensively over the years detailing how DOMA has impacted our lives, if you want a refresher you can read some it here.

But with Supreme Court ruling in the Windsor case, the court over turned the provision of DOMA that barred federal recognition of our marriage, clearing the way for me to sponsor Eric for immigration to the United States, just as he had sponsored my immigration to the United Kingdom.  Thus  prompting  the occasional question about returning to the United States.  

Eric and I have always had the assumption that one day we will move back to the US. With all of my family, and some of his there, it just seemed like a logical eventuality. So consequently when horrific mass shootings like the one this week at an African American Church  in Charleston, South Carolina, happen in America, I struggle to answer the question my husband invariably asks me as we watch the news...

"What is wrong with America...?"

Each time I honestly struggle to answer that question. You see,  my husband is a very intelligent and sensible person,  so when  he reads the full text of the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, like anyone who can read and comprehend written words, he fails to see how a "well regulated militia" means anyone can have any kind of gun and as many guns as they want. He also fails to understand Americans who don't decry the shootings, but instead, froth at the mouth with nonsensical ravings in response to ANY attempt to address the KEY ISSUE that helps facilitate these horrific crimes; the American FETISH with guns.

I think part of this stems from the fact that we live in the United Kingdom,  a nation that doesn't have these kinds of mass shootings. Crimes that in America are now commonplace. A fact that was not lost on President Obama when he spoke yesterday.

Almost immediately on the American Cultural right-wing, came the shrill hysterical cries of  "Obama is coming for your Guns!!"  And right wing nut jobs like Alex Jones, claiming that  this shooting may have been  actually planned and carried out BY the Obama Administration  as a "false flag attack " to use as pretext for declaring martial law , and "taking everyone's guns away"   Why?  To disarm white people for the coming "socialist race war" .. Oh of course, why else?
If you can stomach 7 seconds of racist, paranoid delusional hate, feel free to watch Alex Jones in action, yesterday.

So when I get asked by rational intelligent people , "What is wrong with America...?"  I honestly don't know what to say.   But I do know what I don't want to hear...

I don't want to hear  or  read comments on how this tragedy would have been averted if the parishioners at the  Charleston A.M.E. church  had been carrying guns, so don't write them,  I won't post them.  I don't want to read mindless pap  that says  "guns don't kill,  people do",  because only an idiot can't  see  how having such easy access to  the gun in the first place helps make horrors like this possible.  So don't bother writing it.  I won't post it  
If  you say you believe that more guns are the answer , you are wrong,  and you know it, you just are not honest enough to admit it.
I don't want to hear perverse misinterpretations of the 2nd Amendment . Spare me the  Alex Jones/Fox News/Matt Drudge  BS that stricter controls on guns wouldn't have helped prevent this. When in 2014, the total number of Gun related deaths (accidental and otherwise,) in the UK was 58,  and in the US it is was over 10,000,  regurgitated  NRA propaganda  just makes whoever is spewing it look heartless and stupid.  So spare yourselves  the embarrassment , and  turn your computer off  and  for now,  just be quiet.   

One of the commonalities of the expatriate experience is you often find yourself defending your home  country in casual conversation.  Yet lately I have had to admit that were we to move back to the US,  and I don't mean to Chicago, or San Francisco.  I mean even if we were  to move to Madison, Wisconsin, (population : 233,209)  the beautiful city where I was born, and  grew up;  The likelihood of one of us being a victim of gun related violence,  is nearly ten times greater than it is living in here  London,   a city of  over 8 million people.

I love my country.  I am proud to say  that I am an American.  I have travelled, lived and worked in may other places around the world,  In Europe  and Asia.   Yet there is no other nation I would have wanted to be born a citizen of.    I truly believe the greatness of the United States is, and will always be  our diversity.   E Pluribus Unum...  Out of many, One.  

Yet  the fact remains.   There IS something very  wrong with America.   When these horrific crimes of mass murder are somehow  accepted as  the price America has to pay for our "right to bear arms", then clearly that right has been perverted and twisted into something the founding fathers  never intended.   America suffers from an illness,  an addiction to guns that kills  thousands of our fellow Americans every year.    An addiction that kills more Americans than Al Qaida, ISISL or any other terrorist group.

Until we as a nation can honestly come to terms with that fact,  the death toll will only continue to climb.

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