“You’re crazy. You’re just crazy,” he said as he left the building in frustration. Moments earlier he was browsing my table at the Artisan Food Market where I had made rice krispie treats with artisan marshmallows to sell for $2 apiece. But it became quite evident that he wasn’t interested in the snacks themselves, you see, I was selling them to promote my monthly event “Drinking Liberally.” Drinking Liberally is a social event I host where people living in Columbus, IN. and Bartholomew County can meet other people who do not consider themselves “conservatives” or Republicans. It’s for “those who lean to the left” as I like to say. The event is co-sponsored by the Bartholomew County Democratic Party and I happened to be sharing the table with some of the ladies from the Democratic Women’s League (they were selling packaged nuts). So when I introduced myself and he said, “I know who you are, I’m [name withheld].” I knew he was not a costumer. He was a Libertarian, also operating a booth at the market, who wanted to debate politics.
“You couldn’t field a single candidate for Mayor? Really?” he asked. And to my embarrassment, I had to admit the sorry state of the local Democratic Party here in Indiana. I pointed out that I was trying to help rebuild the party in our county and he could help out by buying some of our wares. He declined and the topic somehow turned to the Iran Deal and how “my” President was giving money to a nation that backed terrorism and would renege on the nuclear deal as soon as our backs were turned. I pointed out that I was not as concerned about who Iran sponsored as I was, like the Department of Homeland Security, concerned about homegrown right-wing terrorist.
“Why did you say that? Why did you have to go there? What do you mean by right wing terrorists?” I casually mentioned Dylan Roof to which he replied, “Well, what about the left wing terrorists? The once looting and rioting.” “You mean protesters?” “Yeah, them. They’re terrorists. So is that Al Sharpton…” I interrupted to point out that if Al Sharpton was a terrorist, according to his logic, then so was every evangelist who encouraged a David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress. Then I pointed out that Roof and the people who were burning black churches in the South were actual terrorists and that was the point he had had enough.
The reason that conversation is fresh on my mind isn’t because it happened last weekend, but since that conversation John Houser, another right-wing terrorist, killed 2 people and wounded 9 others in a Louisiana theater. Then I come across a report that indicates that there has been 204 mass shootings in the first 204 days of 2015. And now I’m left wondering if there will ever be an opportunity to have a rational discussion with people like [name withheld] who see parallels between Al Sharpton and Dylan Roof.
Recently, President Obama told BBC News “If you look at the number Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands.” As right-wing terrorist groups like Oath Keepers stand guard outside military recruitment offices in the wake of another mass shooting, this time involving a Muslim, and despite the fact that they’re considered a “security risk”, it becomes evident that prayer alone is not going to cut it this time. We cannot continue doing the same thing over and over, like a PC stuck in a loop, and expect different results. Those of us who lean a bit to the left cannot sit silent because silence has been taken as consent. Whether we demand gun laws as strict as Australia, the UK, Canada or Japan; or simply strengthen current regulations to increase background checks, what we cannot do is be silent on the matter. Like #BlackLivesMatter, #LivingWage, #SandraBland, #RFRA, #equality, #publiceducation, #studentloanrelief, and many other issues facing the 2016 campaign, it might seem crazy, but we have to talk about #guncontrol.
NOTE: Apologies for not posting for sometime, I just had a new baby.