Let’s start by remembering tomorrow’s holiday, and, as often as I disagree with Dana Summers (Tribune), he nailed this one.
I hate the sentimental dreck of little kids saluting tombstones, but there’s also no need for squawking that Memorial Day is for remembering the dead, not having barbecues. Summers hits a sweet middle ground by pointing out that we can honor the day and also enjoy it.
For that matter, it’s not unusual in other countries to picnic at (on) the graves of ancestors. Why not invite them to the party?
To which I would add that we seem to be the only country with such a twisted fascination over its flag. Marshall Ramsey (Creators) says we have so many mass shootings that the flag is perpetually at half-staff, and I take his point.
But I think we already lower the flag so often that the gesture has lost most of its meaning. We also fly it so many places, and with such a cavalier disregard, that it’s lost most of its majesty.
I’m old, and remember when it was considered vulgar and disrespectful to use the flag as an advertising device, so that it was only flown at private businesses on national holidays.
In fact, when I took my first drivers test in 1966, the brownie directed me to turn left at the post office, and, when I said “Where?” he snapped, “The flag!” because, of course, that government building was the only place on the street where there was one.
Moreover, when we did fly the flag, at schools or post offices or wherever, we took it in at sunset or if it rained, and we replaced it — respectfully — when it became tattered or faded.
And if you saw the flag at half-staff, it meant somebody very important had died, a president or Supreme Court justice, or that there had been a major national tragedy.
I guess you had to be there, because, today, we leave it out in the dark and rain until it falls apart, but lower it so regularly that there seems almost no point in having the halyards reach the top.
Andy Marlette (Creators) is far from the only cartoonist to feature the tombstones of young shooting victims, or to compare them to our war dead, but he puts a topical twist on the usual Memorial Day cliché that Summers also played with, of the old fellow instructing the youngster.
In so doing, he cites the “American way of life” in which gun worship has assumed such a major role, and it seems a fitting way to place that issue before voters.
As noted here yesterday, premature pontificating on initial, inevitably fallible reports of what the police did, speculation over what they should have done, and so forth, is not only foolish and arrogant, but a distraction. While communities need to learn from the failures, the goal should be not to make the next one run more smoothly but to try to prevent it.
Pat Byrnes offers the pragmatic, if cynical, proposal that most people consider our gun situation a done deal, and that it annoys people to have it constantly brought up.
That may remind you of the woman who called into CBS News to complain that their coverage of the JFK assassination had interrupted her soap opera, but I would suggest Byrnes is pretty close to reality with his depiction.
Others have noted that, if Sandy Creek didn’t rouse Americans to action, subsequent slaughters won’t either, but even a stone can be worn away by constant dripping, and we should remember how long it took the nation to listen to the abolitionists before slavery ended.
And, on Memorial Day, what it finally took.
So how do you shock that fellow enough to make him act before it comes to the point of civil war?
It’s like the apocryphal story of the woman who told Adlai Stevenson he had the support of every thinking American, to which he responded that, while that was nice, he needed a majority.
Benjamin Slyngstad takes a thoughtful approach to the problem of too many guns in too many hands, and it’s hard to argue with his satire.
But it runs the same risk as the split between abolitionists and suffragists, who — however bitterly — recognized that by combining their appeal, they were negating their impact. There were people who wanted to free the slaves but not give women the vote and vice-versa.
Similarly, in our current world, we have people who favor both abortion restrictions and gun control, and you won’t spur them to action by combining the pair.
It’s probably better not to conflate controversial issues, assuming your goal is gaining a majority, not making a few close friends.
Which certainly does not require you to reduce things to an inoffensive bowl of pablum, as seen in this
Juxtaposition of the Day
It is fair commentary to combine the images of dead children with the issue of gun control and, while the fellow in Pat Byrnes’ cartoon may resent having it shoved in his face, that doesn’t make it an ineffective technique. I’m sure there were moderates in the Antebellum days who didn’t want to keep seeing the scars on the backs of slaves, either, but people like Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass eventually shocked the conscience of America.
There have been suggestions that, just as Emmett Till’s mother let his open casket be a reproach to the country, we should also let people see the results in Uvalde.
I’m not against it, but I wonder what the proportion of motivated people versus alienated people would be?
While we sort that out, however, cartoonists should — must — continue to demand that their readers confront the reality, not just of the blood itself but of the gun lobby’s indifference to death and suffering.
Juxtaposition of the Day #2
Here’s our national dialogue in a Juxtaposition: Walters clutches his pearls, demanding we not propose solutions while people are still upset by the slaughter, while Judge mocks those who refuse to deal with an immediate crisis.