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Day 400 – Letter to NY Representative Tenney: Another $5,950 From the NRA is Not Going to Be Enough to Save Your Job.

Day 400 – Letter to NY Representative Tenney: Another $5,950 From the NRA is Not Going to Be Enough to Save Your Job.

Photograph from Politico

Dear Representative Tenney,

Let’s get honest with each other for a second: there’s been a lot of stupid shit said in the wake of the massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Benjamin Kelly, an aide to State Representative Shawn Harrison, claimed that two students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were “actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.”  That’s crazy, right?  What kind of partisan monster would make that sort of statement?

Rush Limbaugh — admittedly, not a source of rational discourse in the best of times — characterized student activists this way: “Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democratic Party’s various playbooks.  It has the same enemies: the N.R.A. and guns.”  Why even try to make that argument?  Why, instead of listening to what these individuals, who have lived through unimaginable tragedy and fear, have to say, would someone immediately try to silence them?

What do you think?

Are they trying to politicize tragedy?

Are they deeply, deeply afraid that our country is finally going to confront one of its central failings?

Are they sweating the possibility that this young generation, now reaching voting age, isn’t going to put up with this “thoughts and prayers” crap any longer?

Perhaps, now, you’re wondering: why am I addressing this to you?

Well, there are, from 2016, about 5,950 reasons why.  That’s the amount of money you accepted from the NRA during your 2016 election bid.

But, more immediately, there’s this thing you said on February 21.  Brace yourself, congresswoman — it’s kind of nuts.  You said, “It’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats.”

Now, I don’t want to make this a contest, but, man, that’s a wild thing to say.  Especially, ESPECIALLY, when, offered the opportunity to clarify that statement, you said, “I am fed up with… liberals attempting to politicize tragedies.”

Which is, of course, exactly what you were doing.

So let me take a minute to try to try to talk your language, to put my feelings into the kind of phrasing you seem to revel in.  And if it scares you that I might be trying to “politicize a tragedy,” well, suck it up, buttercup: in the face of tragedy, we must think, we must speak, and we must act.

I’m fed up with you, and people like you, trying to demonize hard-working Americans who want a safer world for their children.

I’m fed up with you, and people like you, trying to silence those who wish to debate the supposed right to own semi-automatic assault rifles, trying to use slander to strip us of our first amendment rights.

I’m fed up with you, and people like you, putting your campaign finances ahead of the lives of children.

I’m fed up with you, and people like you, turning tragedy into farce and genuine concern into conspiracy.

I’m fed up with you, and people like you, whining that every attempt to talk about the possibility of sensible regulations for firearms is one tiny step away from total surrender to a totalitarian regime.

And I’m not alone.

There are tens of millions just as fed up as I am.

We’re protesting.  We’re demanding an audience.  We’re going to vote in November.

And I don’t believe that another $5,950 from the NRA is going to be enough to save your job.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 399 – Letter to Everyone: Black Lives Should Always Matter.

Day 399 – Letter to Everyone: Black Lives Should Always Matter.

Image from Politico

Dear…everyone,

Right now, all of our eyes, minds, and hearts are turned towards those school children who have been murdered senselessly by individuals with a vengeance, who had access to all-too-powerful weapons. As we battle to get these weapons off the streets and to tighten gun laws, and as we say #NeverAgain; we must also remember another population where #EnoughIsEnough counts. Our Black Americans.

Every day, too many children – many of them Black – still live in fear. In tough cities like Baltimore and Chicago, poverty and gang culture still pervade the community. We know that making it harder to get guns won’t stop every potential killer, but we hope that maybe those laws can act as a deterrent. Maybe, just maybe, it will be harder for kids to buy guns off the streets. But we need to continue finding other solutions to support kids and their families – providing safe spaces, support for their parents, and education and opportunities that provide doorways to new paths.

We need to continue to fight for those innocent Black Americans who were killed by police, thanks to the continued racism that flows through our veins. We may be trying to change – but we have a lot farther to go. Treyvon Martin. Amadou Diallo. Manuel Loggins Jr. Ronald Madison. Kendra James. Sean Bell. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Terence Crutcher. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray.

And while we wrest with these incredibly difficult and heart-breaking issues, we can also take some time to reflect on some of the good that is happening. The #BlackLivesMatter movement, devastatingly rooted in these unjust deaths, is reaching Americans and other individuals across the U.S. and the world. Started in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, the leaders of the mission are fierce and focused in their mission:

  • We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.
  • We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
  • The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.

Fueled by the continuing senseless murders of innocent Black people, #BlackLivesMatter developed throughout 2013 and 2014 as a platform and organizing tool. Today, other groups, organizations, and individuals twist the movement and its message to amplify anti-Black racism across the country, in all the ways it showed up.

We are having meaningful conversations – and more than that, taking actions. Remember the intense stirring caused by those football players who took a knee during the National Anthem? More people are alert to their own innate racism, and are trying to better understand and change themselves…and hopefully create a world for our kids where they won’t even think twice about a color.

And now, in time for Black History month, the movie “Black Panther” has blasted through expectations and smashed box office records with a $218M opening. Why? Because finally, mainstream media introduced a real-life, real Black, superhero. Because finally, people are ready to watch. This isn’t just for Blacks. It’s for all of us. We are ready for all colors. We are ready for all heroes.

As I open my eyes to the continued injustices faced by my fellow Americans, I know I can’t pretend to have any inkling of an idea of those little and big moments that Black Americans still face every day. I do know this. It is our job to look out for each other. It is our job to find the good in each other, to lift each other up, and help each other reach our highest potential. So maybe I am a white lady living in the burbs of DC. But I can say it with my whole heart: #BlackLivesMatter.

Sincerely,

Kate Viggiano Janich, Together We Will Northern Virginia

And Letters2Trump

Day 398 – Letter to the Anti-Gun Control, Racist Establishment: They Are Coming For You.

Day 398 – Letter to the Anti-Gun Control, Racist Establishment: They Are Coming For You.

Image from the LA  TImes

Dear President Trump, Republican Legislators, NRA Lobbyists, Apathetic Voters, White Supremacists, and other Empty Barrels,

THEY. ARE. COMING. FOR. YOU.

Take heed. The children are coming for you. They are tired of you propping them up and trotting them out to make a political point about family values. They know that you have proposed cuts in public health and the SNAP program, that you have withdrawn tax deductions for college tuition and adoption expenses, and that you have hired a myriad of domestic abusers to work for you while destroying families through mass deportations. They understand hypocrisy.

They are coming for you.

They have read and discussed history and understand that when white supremacy rears its ugly head, like it did in Charlottesville, Charleston, on an Amtrak train in Nebraska, Aztec, New Mexico and college campuses throughout the country, there are NOT good people on both sides. They are taught by intelligent women, learn with erudite black classmates, play with immigrant teammates, are mentored by LGTBQ coaches, are treated by Latino practitioners and know that these integral members of their communities are not the problem. They are these people. They understand scapegoating.

They are coming for you.

They have run. They have hidden. They have crouched. They have prayed. They have bled. They have cried. They have texted good bye when hours before they kissed their parents and got on the bus worried about little more than a chemistry test. They have mourned. They understand terror.

They are coming for you.

They know how to research gun death statistics by date, by state, by country, by region, by demographics, they know how to read charts. They can look up political donations and cross reference them with votes on state and federal legislation. They know how to decipher media. They recognize legitimate sources and can discern fake news. They understand spin.

They are coming for you.

They know they have a voice. They exercise critical thinking. They are just now realizing that adults will attack children if it serves their need for power. They walk. They march. They write. They shout. Soon they will vote. They understand elections.

They are coming for you.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 397 – Letter to Fellow Americans: The Time for the Gun Control Debate Is Now. Embrace Being Adults. Talk. Listen. Demand Action.

Day 397 – Letter to Fellow Americans: The Time for the Gun Control Debate Is Now. Embrace Being Adults. Talk. Listen. Demand Action.

Image from Artificial Gallery

My dearest fellow American citizens,

Adulting.

It’s not easy, as I’m sure we all can attest to. It requires so many things that we don’t necessarily want to do. I’m not just talking about vacuuming, yard work, and grocery shopping. I am also referring to the development of character that occurs in adulthood, such as honing skills in and working on intimate relationships, time and money management, and learning to put others before ourselves. If you are a parent, I know that you are familiar with putting your own needs aside for the welfare of your children.

As this week has gone by since the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there have been a lot of “adult” conversations (if we can really call them that). Unfortunately, I don’t know that we are using our full range of grown-up skills and abilities when we engage in these conversations.

I have spent a lot of time reading and listening to opinions shared on the news and social media, and I have noticed a disturbing trend. When it comes to the issues of gun control and mass shootings, many participants in these conversations seem to have tunnel vision.

Person A: “All you damn liberals just want to take away our guns!”

Person B: “That’s not actually what I said. I think there should be additional restrictions.”

Person A: “You are an idiot. Guns will never go away. If we take them away from law-abiding citizens, only criminals will have them!”

Person B: “But, that’s not what I’m suggesting…..”

And that is just a sample. I have heard a lot of passionate arguments, both for and against gun reform. I have heard people state how guns have been a way of life since they were children; they grew up hunting, and continue to do so. They don’t understand why they should be punished for the deeds of a few. I have heard from people who believe any type of gun reform is an assault on the Second Amendment and Constitutional rights. Conversely, I have listened as people have argued that Second Amendment rights do not supersede the right to life. I have listened as teachers and parents cry in fear for their children and students.

My internet hero for the weekend wrote this (a man I do not even know) on Facebook:

“Plenty of normal people would have a good time building bombs and blowing sh%t up. That doesn’t mean it should be legal and we should allow access to it. If any enthusiastic gun owner is against changing ANYTHING to do with availability of these weapons, it’s because of their own selfishness. Plain and simple. And I f*cking love shooting guns. If someone said to me, “Hey, Mike, to save this ONE SINGLE KID, all you have to do is choose to never see a single cloud again,” I would do it in a heartbeat, even when all I’ve cared about for the last 25 years is the clouds in the sky. Millions of Americans are picking a hobby over the safety of our kids.”

I have read, watched, and listened because I am looking for something that few seem concerned about: As American citizens, where is our common ground? What can we agree upon?

As far as I can tell, we all seem to love our children. Some people are more concerned about their children, while others think of all people’s children. Nevertheless, we have love for our future generations.

We share fear. Many of you may not want to admit to being afraid, but the insistence that you need a gun to protect yourself would indicate that you are indeed afraid of something. As for people who are for gun reform, they are afraid of the continuation of this violence.

What we don’t seem to be able to come together on is a true desire to listen to one another. In reference to the habits of highly effective leaders, one of the habits is, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  I am seeing very few people seeking to understand. Again, it’s more about being right. It’s more about ego. We are passing the buck on adulting.

The teenage survivors of the Stoneman shooting have given us, the adults, a lesson on how to have appropriate discourse. They are talking to each other. They are listening. They are engaged in critical thinking. They are seeking common ground; and they are propelled to find a change that will benefit our nation. Criticize teenagers all you like, but this group of children and young adults is now becoming a model for us. I’m proud of them, and ashamed of us.

We will not be able to move past this issue towards potential solutions unless we are willing to seek to understand each other, especially those we disagree with. If you believe you know everything there is to know, then you have your own problem with self-righteousness. If you had all the answers, we wouldn’t have problems. Have some humility and open your ears, and your hearts, to your neighbors and fellow Americans.

As much as you may not want to, well……welcome to adulting. We have to do better.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Ouellette, granddaughter, daughter, and niece of avid hunters; friend of gun owners and collectors; aunt of a Varsity skeet shooter; pro-gun reformist

And Letters2Trump

 

Day 396 – Enough. They Are Not Alone. And in 2020, They Will Vote.

Day 396 – Enough. They Are Not Alone. And in 2020, They Will Vote.

Image from CNN

Mr. President,

I left school this past Wednesday reflecting on the takeaways from a class discussion and if I had enough copies for the next day’s class. I then pulled out my phone to the horror that elsewhere in our country, there were teachers and students leaving their school escorted by police after a massacre.

Yes, I realize that for some people, this may be old news; it was nearly a week ago after all, but I cannot fathom how yet another school shooting may fade into the background. Interest in the longevity of news stories in America is minimal, but the safety of our schools and children can no longer fall victim to our short attention span.

Enough.

Enough. Enough. Enough.

Something must change. You have the ability to impact how guns are sold. You have the ability to impact how guns are purchased. You have the ability to impact how guns are protected. You have done nothing but allow money to speak. To you and all the others in power who have refused to have this conversation: their blood is on your hands.

Enough.

Power does not come from destroying someone weaker than you; power comes from helping strengthen others. Power is not lack of emotion; power is sharing in emotion. Empathy. Listening to and allowing yourself to feel the pain and joy of others makes people vulnerable, but also shows humanity. It shows strength.

You briefly visited victims in Florida before heading to Mar-a-Lago (again). No emotion crossed your face during this quick stop. It makes me once again truly consider your cowardice. Are you afraid to feel? Are you simply that scared to put yourself as second to someone else? Even in the wake of this tragedy, you just had to put the light back on you. Not everything revolves around you. Children are scared to go to school.

Enough.

I chose to become an educator because I love watching teenagers figure themselves out. The struggle of these years is intense, but the moments of discovery are energizing. I constantly ask my students what they think; I show them why what they think matters. I provide them a platform to present their thinking, not to shy away from their beliefs because someone may disagree. They believe the world can do better; they deserve a world that IS better, and they will work for it to change.

This change is what we are seeing in the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Watching the intensity growing from within them is inspiring. These teenagers are showing the world that they have a voice and they will use that voice. Do not write them off for being young.

They are strong. They are powerful. They are angry.

They are not alone.

And in 2020, they will vote.

Enough.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

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