Tennessee Republicans "kill the messenger"
Rather than confront the tragic causes of yet another school shooting, GOP legislators eject two of three Democrat representatives who joined a protest.
Yesterday, two Black state lawmaker were voted out of the Tennessee assembly after joining a protest calling for legislative action in response to yet another school shooting. A third Democrat lawmaker who’d joined the protest, a white woman, narrowly kept her seat by one vote. Watching this spectacle online TV saddened me. When we don’t want to hear a truth someone is telling us, we may make them wrong to avoid the truth they’re speaking. We may kill the messenger to evade the message.
I’m reminded of the magical thinking of children who put their hands over their eyes, so they cant’s see us. They think that act somehow makes them invisible. Are the adult legislators in Tennessee only children who think nobody sees the absurdity of their antics because they choose to close their eyes?
I’m not going to debate here the merits of gun control legislation. I’m not going to address here the fallacies on both side of that debate. Rather, I’m asking us to face our unwillingness to face those “inconvenient truth” about violence in our culture, much like Tennesseean Al Gore urged us to face inconvenient truth about climate change.
A case in point was the 1866 burning of the Memphis “Freedmen's Schoolhouse” during a riot (see illustration above from Harper's Weekly). Rather than confront racial prejudice and injustice, people burned down the school educating Blacks for living in freedom. They effectively killed the messenger of education and knowledge.
So long as we continue to make others wrong so we can feel right, we will prevent ourselves from solving the urgent local to global crises that confront us.
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