Memorial Day 2022
I won’t tell you that Memorial Day is more than hot dogs and beach balls. And I won’t tell you it’s more than a long weekend or the kickoff of summer. Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day after the Civil War as a day to decorate the graves of Union soldiers. It evolved into a day to decorate the graves of all our war dead. I still remember it as Decoration Day. But you should know that it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives for our country.
This is a time of great sadness in the world. Thousands are dying in Ukraine—citizen soldiers with their backs against the wall, fighting a bumbling but cruel Russian force. There’s fear of invasion by the Russians among Ukraine’s neighbors as well. The powder keg of global politics is waiting for a spark. If it ignites, there will by many more graves to decorate. Here at home we appear to be at war with ourselves. Nut cases easily get their hands on war weapons to sacrifice innocent men, women, and children to some twisted agenda of bigotry and hate.
I saw enough of war when I went to Vietnam. I naively thought humanity might learn its lesson from that fiasco. But no, we as a species love war. But bullets don’t know if they’re fired in anger at an enemy invader or a child. Bullets only know meat and how to destroy it.
I’m determined to have a happy Memorial Day, and I want the same for you. Here’s to a cold beer and suntan lotion. Just remember. Honor. Show respect for lives lost.
When 19 children and 2 teachers were gunned down by an 18 year-old wielding an AR-15 assault rifle, it was inevitable. The cowardice of lawmakers in Washington and the criminal indifference of state politicians made the massacres at the Robb Elementary School, the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, and all the rest of the tragic mass shootings in our country INEVITABLE. Politicians and lobbyists who cling to power by refusing to face down the gun lobby have blood on their hands once again. There is no reason for mass killings to take place as they do in our country. The hypocritical reverence for the Second Amendment as an excuse for any nut case to purchase an assault rifle, a military weapon designed to kill human beings as efficiently as possible, is one thing only: greed on the part of gun manufacturers and gun dealers. (The Second Amendment was only in the Constitution because our young country had no standing army. Ensuring that citizens had a firearm was wise back then, just in case the Brits came back for seconds. Its usefulness has expired.) But we as a nation cannot bring ourselves to do anything about the spreading epidemic of guns—particularly assault weapons. Draconian abortion laws can be made to prosecute, harass, and harangue women—even send them to jail if they abort their pregnancies. The same greed head lawmakers in Washington and the states proudly prevent women from obtaining healthcare during pregnancies because they claim to be “pro life.” But where is pro life when the killer throws open the classroom door and starts firing? Where was pro-life when an 18 year-old ego on the half shell bought not one but two AR-15s and wrote on social media, “I’m going to shoot up an elementary school?”
Changing the archaic mindset about gun possession is hard, there’s no denying it. But how hard is it if YOU are the next unlucky parent giving DNA to identify the mangled body of your child? How hard is it to select a coffin small enough for that youngster’s remains? Can you even imagine such an ordeal? Certainly Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, or Sen. Ted Cruz have not taken time to imagine that. They only see money, votes, and power. And for those three things they will happily sell you, your children, your family—even their own families down the river—with a smile.
Yesterday, Beto O’Rourke confronted them up close and personal at a fundraiser. As Beto rebuked them for their inaction and callous disregard for the lives of their constituents, you could see the fear in their eyes. When someone confronted them publicly for their evil passivity and groveling submission to the NRA, their discomfort was palpable. It was a teaching moment for Abbott, et al. The fear they felt when Beto called out their contempt for their citizens, is only a trifle compared to what those children and teachers must have felt staring down the muzzle of an AR-15. Imagine that, Abbott. Would you shield those children for as long as you could? Or would you run? Maybe cry? Would you beg for your life?
We need action now. We need our A game. We need to set agendas in a hurry. The right-wing power structure is yellow-bellied and steeped in blood. God turned His face away from Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, as He did last week in Buffalo. It is only a matter of time before it happens again. It could be days. Or even hours.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Sun Tzu
It’s time to fight. The women of America need to emulate the bravery of the Ukrainian people. Just as surely as the Russians are committing genocide and war crimes by illegally invading the Ukrainian’s territory, so too is our fascist far right—the GOP, the woman-haters, the religious hypocrites—invading the territory of our bodies to create a scenario for femicide. No woman will carry a pregnancy she does not want to full term. The efforts of the anti-woman right wing will not eliminate abortion, they will only eliminate SAFE abortion. Thousands of women will die from self-induced or back alley abortions. And their deaths will be received by the hateful Republicans with a shrug and a smirk—Oh, well. Told you so.
With a bill in the Louisiana Legislature criminalizing abortion as a homicide, and so-called trigger laws in 26 states outlawing abortion the moment Roe v Wade is overturned, we are all plunged into a desperate battle for women’s freedom. Men should not make the mistake of ignoring the ground swell of protest that is coming. State legislatures, Congress, and the Supreme Court should not believe they are immune. As women, we must be prepared to bring the fight to them. The determination of the Ukrainians fought off tanks and troops, and made the Russian military look like a bunch of wankers. We need that determination to protest loud and long, write letters and editorials, speak out, and VOTE. Vote the lying, venal bastards out of office, and then shame them before the nation.
The catastrophe of the SCOTUS draft decision on abortion is reverberating around the country. It has plunged me into a frenzy of remembering. I grew up in a world in which abortion was illegal. I was three years-old when I heard screams—terrible screams—from the woman in the apartment above who had tried to abort her unborn baby. The screams went on and on until she bled to death. Even at that early age, I remember the coroner’s van pulling up.
The situation did not change in the 1940s, the 1950s, or the 1960s. I’ve written elsewhere about my own illegal abortion—up the dark stairs; the bare, makeshift office; the fear. In January of 1972, when Roe v Wade became law, it seemed like a new world had opened up, when women were empowered to make their own choices about their bodies. And now, we’re staring back into that dark abyss of authoritarianism, a man-created zone of control of women. The Handmaid’s Tale come to life.
But Republicans beware. See that mirage-like thing on the horizon? It’s a tsunami. You’ve had fair warning. A tidal wave of estrogen is coming to wash away to settle the score of the war men have made on women. You think you know best what our choices should be, don’t you? Instead, you have made the disastrous choice of your own: pissing us off. If women can focus, if they can summon the iron resistance necessary, pussy power will reduce you to political roadkill. You heard it here first, boys. Don’t fuck with us.