- Today in Tabs
- What Are You Willing To Do?
What Are You Willing To Do?
We all know what happened. Now what?
You don’t need me to tell you what happened, you know what happened in Texas. And what happened in Buffalo, and what happened in Laguna Woods, and what happened in 27 schools this year, and what happened to one million Americans in the last two years, and what is still happening to more than three hundred every day, and what happened to Roe, and what’s about to happen to even the feeblest efforts to hold back the tide of slaughter in New York or any other state. You know what happened when we voted, and voted, and voted, and voted, and voted.
So, what are you willing to do?
That’s the question James Meek asks in his LRB review of Barbara F. Walter’s book ”How Civil Wars Start – And How to Stop Them.” It’s a long article but if you click nothing else in Tabs today (or ever again), please make a little time to read this and think about it.
In 2015, Alex Pareene wrote in Gawker that “The Gun Control Movement Needs Its Own Pro-Life Fanatics.” Seven years later, we are about to add the repeal of Roe to his list of:
I’ve thought about this post over and over, but still nowhere in America is anyone “very publicly making a scene at as many gun shops as possible, and personally attacking—verbally, but bordering on physically—people trying to enter those stores to legally purchase guns.” We still hide the pictures of murdered children, over 100 more of them since 2015, even while parents in Uvalde are undergoing DNA swabs to match them to the otherwise unidentifiable remains of their third graders. In 2018, a radiologist from Florida named Heather Sher described what wounds from an AR-15-type rifle look like:
Got a kid at home? Give them an orange, and then try to keep your shit together while you remember that last line.
Alex Pareene isn’t talking about protesting at gun stores much anymore. Yesterday in his newsletter he looked at polls that claim Americans are losing faith in “democracy” but which actually “are measuring support for our political order,” and asked American political leadership “What are you going to do about the fact that we all know you can’t do anything?” Culture writer Anne Helen Petersen, not usually a revolutionary firebrand, wrote that the excruciating cycle of murder and political helplessness we find ourselves stuck in is “American democracy—the senate, the electoral college, the Supreme Court and its lifetime appointees—functioning as intended.” She concluded that “Voting, on its own, will not be enough to change that. We have to decide: what will be?” What, in other words, are you willing to do?
In 2020, guns became the leading cause of death for American children and adolescents, surpassing car crashes for the first time. The gun used in Uvalde yesterday was reportedly made by a Georgia company called Daniel Defense. Here’s a since-deleted ad the company posted on Twitter a week ago, which was still up late last night:
Daniel Defense is a U.S. company with a web page and an address, and owners with names and addresses. The NRA will hold its annual convention in Houston this weekend at the George R. Brown Convention Center, starting Friday. Insider reports that “NRA members will not be able to bring their firearms to the Houston meeting.”
What Am I Willing To Do?
Since at least 2016, I’ve been asking myself: what am I willing to do? So far the answer is protest, when there’s a protest happening. I quit my job, and I encourage others to quit their jobs when I get a chance. I vote, for all the good that does. So in total: I’ve done nothing.
If I were a teacher, would I refuse to go to work? If I were anyone whose professional absence would be noticed, would I join a general strike? If everyone did that, it would matter a lot. If a few people did, maybe more would join them? If one person sat down and refused to participate, would anyone care? Just a month ago a man “set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court… in an apparent Earth Day protest against climate change.” Nothing happened. In June the Supreme Court may rule that the EPA can’t regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The truth is, I don’t know what to do. I hugged my own third grader goodbye this morning and sent her off to school. The middle school she’ll attend in three years is remote today because they discovered “threats” in a bathroom. We live in a country where statistically, until age 19, she is most likely to die of a gunshot wound. So what am I willing to do? Anything.
Tell me what to do.