Photograph by IMDB
Dear Mr. President,
As representatives seek to hurl one of their injured number against each other in a quest for political dominance mere hours after Steve Scalise took a bullet, let me tell you where I was when he was shot. There is a point to this, I promise.
Day was still dawning on the west coast, and I was slamming my fists into targets in a park otherwise populated by woodpeckers and old ladies. I don’t like you, and I don’t like your policies. You hurt my friends, my coworkers, and their children with your lies and your pettiness about everything from immigration to health care to foreign policy. And yet, do you suppose I imagined your face hovering over the red dots I kept pummeling there in the park?
No. No, I did not. Because I’m not you.
At one point, as I paused to gulp water, the man holding the targets set one down and pulled out this phone. “Jesus, there was a shooting in DC,” he said.
“Yeah. At a baseball field. A Congressman was shot.”
“Oh my god.”
We huddled over his phone for a minute. I made sure the shooting hadn’t occurred near my family. Details, so early, were few, although surprising no one, the shooter appeared to have been male. Worrisomely, his choice of targets appeared not to have been random. His politics, to our rising despair, appeared to align largely with our own. Like us, he despised what those gathered round the baseball field did to the people they swore to serve. Like us, he hated that they benefitted from the select misfortune of others–as long as the others in question weren’t potential voters, or anyone they respected (a short list, it is true).
Unlike us–unlike almost all of us–he’d decided to articulate his frustration with a gun.
Eventually, I went back to punching. We had no face nor even a name to attach to the shooter at the time, but the vague assurance of “probably not international terrorism” suggested he was probably a white male. Another white male, ruining things for the rest of us. Again.
As representative King pounced on the chance to claim a photo opportunity “praying” at the baseball field, though, even as he loudly proclaimed that “the center of America is disappearing, and the violence is appearing in the streets, and it’s coming from the left,” no faces hovered over the dots on my targets. Not his, not yours, not the vague outline of this latest fracturing of humanity.
Because we are not you. Vengeance is not won with bullets. Or fists. Or slimy rhetoric mere hours after even a friend–a friend!–was shot.
I imagine that in your shrinking mental world, there are more targets than you could ever hope to hit, even with all the red buttons at your disposal. But do consider that if everyone who takes issue with you were as vindictive and violence-driven as this man was–as you are–and as Representative King says we are, everyone’s knuckles would be running red.
But they aren’t. Because the vast majority of “us” don’t try to solve problems by demanding blood.
Think on that, Mr. President, before you descend to wallow gleefully in the cesspool of blame that so entrances Representative King. Of the blood that stains knuckles in America, how much of it has spilled at your instigation?
And how much redder do you want us, before you bury us? We stand at the center of America, and it hasn’t disappeared. Yet. Despite your best efforts.