It was raining on the afternoon of the shooting. The Devil was beating his wife, as we say in the South. In Carrboro near UNC campus, everyone in our lively and upbeat community had a traumatized look on their face. At Armadillo Grill, a family sat munching their tacos, palpably afraid.
Not long before the shooting I had thought about taking the bus to Wilson Library, one building over from where the shooting occurred. My life would have been at risk. If you live in Chapel Hill or go to UNC, your life was at risk too. This is the abject insanity we are forced to live with in a society in which 35% of the citizens refuse to accept any restrictions at all on their right to carry guns.
Republicans don’t want to politicize this because they know the politics of this are damning to them. A graduate student at a university they’ve done everything in their power to destroy used a gun to shoot and kill a professor on campus. Republicans have done everything they could to make it as easy as possible to get a gun in North Carolina. Most recently, they eliminated the pistol permitting system. Their gubernatorial frontrunner jeered at school shooting survivors. I could go on. I’ve lost count.
When you are making the key rite of passage of getting a college education into a frightening experience for young people, you have lost your moral bearings. Millions of young people sort of assume that they’ll suffer a mass shooting by the time they make it out of school. This ordeal is an odyssey of terror, and it was not given to us by nature. In societies where guns are tightly restricted, faculty at public universities are not at risk of dying at the hands of deranged graduate students. The gun club that is the far-right in America foisted this nightmare upon us.
People who cherish their guns like almost nothing else will try something, anything they can find, to deflect attention away from the violent implements that have swamped our society. “Mental health” will be the preferred scapegoat. But blaming a long-suffering and marginalized group for an action that happens in only one country is false and pathetic. Either America is the only country in the world with mental illness, or the guns are the problem. To deny this requires a stupendous capacity for motivated reasoning.
The only decent thing Mark Robinson could do right now is to keep his loquacious mouth shut. If he speaks, there’s a good chance he’ll encourage a hateful backlash against Asian Americans. Given the hostile climate toward immigrants, an outbreak of cruelty is not implausible. But it mustn’t be how we respond to a travesty–not a mere tragedy, but a travesty growing from the sickened soul of a culture gone insane with guns. To my fellow Chapel Hill-Carrboro citizens, I offer a message of sympathy and strength. To the people who created the lethal gun culture in North Carolina: Don’t ask me to help you scrub the blood off your hands.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.