Welcome to my new blog! I originally thought this would be a good way to introduce my readers to something I see on a regular basis, the amazing creativity of crafters in this country. I wanted to tell you about some of the very creative, very talented crafters I see all the time. Instead, because of recent events, I find myself going in a very different direction for this first posting.
Sadly, like many Americans, I have occasionally found myself thinking about workplace safety, but from a position of privilege, because I work in a very safe place. My workplace is in craft shows and garlic festivals, and what could be safer than that? And then, this past week, that happy illusion was shattered by a young man with an assault rifle in Gilroy, California. Thankfully, the death rate was “low,” but that is going to be no comfort the families of the three people, including a six year old child, who were randomly murdered, or the twelve who were wounded.
It should come as no surprise that the shooter was radicalized by the resurgence of white supremacy and white nationalism. The effect of that influence is clear. While he was in the act of killing, someone yelled “why are you doing this?” and he answered “because I’m angry.” That burning, unfocused anger came from somewhere within him, but it had to be stoked by something outside him to take him to the point of carrying out what we must recognize as an act of domestic terrorism. And that is something we must all face and do something about.
Those who are attracted white nationalism and its related isms, including Nazi ideology and its look-alikes, and yes, there is some of that percolating through this country (think Charlottesville), are motivated by a very basic impulse: fear. Specifically, they are afraid of competition, because they are fear they cannot compete with a reasonable chance of winning if they have to compete on a level field. Possibly, this may be enhanced by finding themselves in a world with a changing economy they aren’t ready for, so they are ripe for being manipulated by the politics of fear. It starts with vulnerable people who feel marginalized, and then someone sends out a set of malignant tweets that find and inspire those people to act, as happened in Gilroy. So what can we do about it?
Whenever we have a mass shooting like this, there are those in leadership positions who will offer our “thoughts and prayers,” which really means they are going to do nothing. Don’t send your thoughts and prayers. Send your votes. When our president tweets racism and xenophobia, he encourages the racists and the xenophobes and makes what happened at the Gilroy Garlic festival not only possible, but inevitable. Such grossly irresponsible speech from such an influential office has to have an influence, and in Gilroy, we saw that it did. When an entire party of political leaders choose to stay silent for fear of losing their jobs in a primary election, they choose to accept both that climate and its consequences, and that is not something we can ignore.
Edmund Burke once said “All that is necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” We are coming to an election year that will give us all a chance to act or to do nothing. In this situation, our votes are going to be much more effective than our “thoughts and prayers.” To stay home on Election Day is to choose to do nothing, and doing nothing is the same as acquiescence, which is the same as acceptance. Do not accept what happened in Gilroy. Do not accept a candidate who pours out racist tweets. Do not accept a party that chooses to remain silent in the face of those tweets and the repugnant ideologies that lie behind them. Do not say “I don’t like my options” and stay home.