By any conceivable standard, this has been a grueling month. The term “War on Terror” was given new significance as it became clear that enemy combatants do not exclusively hatch their plots “over there.” In addition to the devastating work of the Brothers Tsarnaev, both longtime U.S. residents (19 year-old Dzhokhar, a citizen) at the Boston Marathon lo these two weeks ago, we have the still-unexplained Texas fertilizer plant explosion and a series of ricin-laced letters mailed to various office holders in Washington.
But the month of April 2013 also presents an argument for the idea that our interpretation of the word “terrorism.” is far too limited. In the wake of Congress’ embarrassing failure to address the growing problem of mass public executions through the passage of a universal background check law for would-be gun owners, eight of our nation’s children continue to be shot and killed everyday. According to a February report from The Washington Post, the U.S. has experienced at least one mass shooting per month since 2009.
Throughout the course of an incredibly violent month, martial law to catch a killer has increasingly become the norm. Boston went on lockdown during the denouement of the hunt for Dzhokar Tsarnaev and today we learned that the business of rural California town, Valley Springs, has come to a halt as law enforcement searches for the killer of an 8 year-old girl. The victim, Leila Fowler, was brutally and randomly stabbed in her home in front of her 12 year-old brother. If such community harassment and intimidation is not the stuff of terrorism, the word has officially lost all meaning.
Compounding the violent challenges facing the nation and the inertia of elected officials in addressing the relative ease of weapon procurement. As well as the mental health and socioeconomic stratification that is surely playing its role, April 2013 has also given the lie to the right wing insistence that climate change is but a liberal conspiracy. Ask citizens of the Midwest bailing themselves out of monsoon-esque flash floods (Chicago) or mid-spring blizzard (Minnesota) if they think global warming is a hoax. Extreme weather has become more frequent, bizarre and devastating (Hurricane Sandy in Manhattan). We don’t need scientific data to confirm this. We can see it for ourselves.
April 2013 has also been marked by the loss of great artists, thinkers and newsmakers. Adieu Margaret Thatcher, Roger Ebert, Annette Funicello, George Jones, Jonathan Winters and Ritchie Havens, among others. Will inspirational leaders rise up to take their place?
I realize that the simple transition to May has no direct correlation with the shift in toxic anti-mojo I desperately desire for my country. On behalf of myself and the Newtown families, the Boston bombing victims and their loved ones and everyone else facing an exhausting cluster of defiance this month, the movement of a date promises no release. But let’s try it anyway, shall we? Rumors abound that the media and constituent flogging unleashed on members of the House and Senate after the shameful defeat of the gun bill may just cow them into tuning out the NRA and adhering to the will of the 90 percent.
May the plentiful miseries of this month produce some good in the next.