Yet much of our national dialogue these days calls for focusing on notions of privilege, prejudice, inequity and vocabulary, and while most Americans want some kind of gun reform, most are less in agreement with the idea that we need to revolutionize our attitudes. on these other issues. A 2020 Pew Research survey found that in the United States, only 40% say “people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others” compared to 57% who say “people today are too easily offended by what others say.
Reading this, more of us think guns are a pressing issue and political correctness is not. And yet, our discourse frequently focuses on this issue, focusing only briefly on guns in the immediate wake of tragedies. For those who think racism is still our biggest problem, we might even consider relying on guns as a component of anti-racism efforts, given the repeated instances of racially motivated violence.
Knowing this and knowing that national legislative efforts have come to naught after shootings at Sandy Hook, Parkland, a Walmart in El Paso and outside a bar in Dayton, judgment should no longer just be a new attempt to change gun laws, but also to confront the fact that it seems impossible, and what that suggests about the very trajectory of the American experience.
My pessimism may seem unjustified. After all, there was a time when it was reasonable to think that little would really change on the civil rights front in America. Black citizens and other people of good will had demonstrated, given speeches and were fed up long before the civil rights victories of the 1950s and 1960s, only to be met with resistance from a united cadre of hostile openly racist congressmen. calls for integration.
Senator Richard Russell Jr. — a Georgia Democrat after whom Russell’s Senate building is named — obstructed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and had earlier in his career responded to a challenger by stating “As someone who was born and raised in the atmosphere of the Old South, with six generations of my ancestors now resting under Southern soil, I am willing to go this far and make such a great sacrifice to preserve and ensure white supremacy in the social, economic and political life of our state like any man who lives within its borders.
Part of what turned the tide of the civil rights struggle was a combination of technology and shame. Television offered visual evidence of the barbarism of segregationist racism with a vivacity hitherto unknown to many Americans.
But it won’t work this time. The instantly accessible moving image has long lost its novelty, and most Republicans in Congress so far give no indication of being moved by Uvalde’s images or the facts. As long as they maintain this posture, they are no more ashamed than the Dixiecrats of old – and our system has reached a point where those of us who are ashamed and want to vote for people who will do something this subject, are upset.