American Shithole #6 — Gifts
by Eric Wilson
While I would’ve loved to wield this week’s column like Gungnir, Odin’s mighty spear, viciously skewering Jared Kushner in a hit piece I look forward to writing with murderous delight — I must instead address my error. I have never been so damn happy to be wrong, in that we as a nation are still talking about gun violence this week; a week that began for me rather serendipitously, with a bit of laughter and reinvigorated spirit.
When my good friend and confidant burst into my room Monday morning — worried that she’d heard noises she later described as a terrifying mashup of hyena laughter and banshee wail — I was surprised. She just doesn’t do that.
She ran in — she had this terribly worried look on her face — and she hurriedly asked me what was wrong. I hadn’t realized at all that I’d made such an unusual racket, but the truth is, just at that moment I had read this quote from the president, that by now I’m certain everyone in the world has seen:
"I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon."
This was the president opining on what he would do, given the likely occurrence he encounters an active shooter scenario — you know, while he's out aimlessly roaming the DC school districts without his secret service security detail. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Bantu tribesman have seen it. The news of this utterance also resulted in my neural network reaching maximum absurdity density, apparently.
“Do you know what you just sounded like?” she asked me.
I had no idea what I was doing, my brain went into lockdown and my mouth just started sputtering nonsense. Although in retrospect, I imagine the response a mixture of exasperation and surprise, like a deflating airbag releasing some sort of wheezing, primordial groan.
I remember thinking to myself:
Are you telling me the fucking Eagle Whisperer is going to storm the castle?
That sanguine orange fuck wouldn’t rush into a dorm room to save a Hot Pocket from a spork-wielding stoner.
That factory reject, septuagenarian pluto-sloth couldn’t rush up half a flight of steps without risking an embarrassing outcropping of bone spurs.
That clumsy buttered muffin of a man couldn’t launch an assault on his own navel lint without an assembly of military brass pointing him in the right direction.
Yet still somehow it’s going to be this cool cat under pressure right here that is going to save the day, eh? Yeah, right.
I made my way into the kitchen for coffee, still concerned about this week’s column, not yet fully aware of the gift I had been given. Mid-brew it struck me that my friend had no idea what gift she had given me either — she’s probably unfamiliar with what a “gift” even means in improv vernacular. I had struggled last week with the topic of gun violence, and knew I had to struggle with the subject again this week, and she just stormed into my room and rained a gift on me.
Thank you, BG.
I was reminded to be patient, and to embrace the absurdity. I also realized over the weekend that I shouldn’t shy away from the inherent humorlessness of the subject matter. Instead, I should just work harder. I would like to keep America’s efforts on gun legislation part of the focus, in order to help these kids get the change they deserve.
In the future, American Shithole will feature periodic updates as an addendum, consisting of highlights in recent gun legislation efforts. These postscripts will generally focus on what the kids are doing (probably going to school), what actions and legislation our representatives in government are (or are not) proposing, what private interests groups are up to, and what we all can do to support these truly heroic American children.
I am aware that the efforts of the NRA in the coming weeks will likely stymie substantive progress, and that news surrounding these young activists will die down, but we don’t have to make it easy. Corporations are taking action, and different battle lines are being drawn. GOP donors are withdrawing support. The cracks are showing, now more than ever.
I am also aware that no one in this administration cares about these kids. I mean, look at Stephen Miller here for fuck’s sake, showing us all — just how plain tuckered out child safety meetings can make an already sleepy-eyed American Nazi.
These kids for me, are a bit like when America arrived on the WWII stage. They bring an energy; difficult to harness or manage. One borne of stubborn youth. Last week? I felt like fat, old Churchill, tired and war-weary, complaining about my woes, this administration and the NRA are obviously Fascist Germany in this scenario — and then these kids show up like the Americans during the darkest days of modern Europe; and those Americans changed the destiny of the world.
Just sayin', these kids are those Americans.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen how truly awful the NRA is prepared to be. These are the people that sanction calling child survivors of our most recent mass shooting tragedy — children whose actions speak to the very heart of the meaning of the word “courage” — calling them “crisis actors” without a shred of respect for what these brave young Americans had just been through.
These heroic kids have inconceivably received multiple death threats. Right-wing NRA gun fetishists are threatening to murder American children.
Are you fucking kidding me with this bullshit behavior, conservative America? It is as if you are attempting to fast track the evolution of the perfect American asshole. Congratulations, almost there!
What kind of an organization counts as members those willing to threaten the lives of children? Murdering children for ideological reasons should sound exactly like terrorism to sane people. It sounds like terrorism to me.
If a foreign organization were discovered to have maintained a stranglehold on American legislation by owning a political party outright, forcing decades of life-threatening policy for all Americans — we would go to war. The same behavior from an American organization should sound like treason to reasonable people. It sounds like treason to me.
The NRA is a treasonous terrorist organization.
That said, my dad is a member — one of their actual liberal, progressive cardholders — and he has informed me that about half of the NRA are as bad as I have made them out to be.
So we need to get to work on the sane half, if they do indeed exist. We need to talk some sense all the way to the polls. Blue wave in November or not, it is all hands on deck in any confrontation with the NRA.
This last week has been an emotional one for me. It’s been very emotional I imagine, for most of us. I struggle now to express this deepest sense of gratitude that I feel toward these brave students. Their courage in the face of terrible adversity and horrifying opposition has provided an influx of faith in humanity, and a renewed interest in impaling baddies.
I’ve been adrift for long stretches this last year. The Trump Effect left some of us feeling dead in the water, at times. It’s difficult some days to motivate the crew, when the sails of democracy hang in tatters from splintered masts. The normalizing of all this has yet to break the spell of incredulity.
I know it’s corny, I don’t care that it’s corny; these brave kids are the FUCKING WIND.
They shouldn’t have to be the wind — kids shouldn’t be teaching the adults a thing or two about courage. They certainly shouldn’t be in the position where they find themselves having to stand up to death threats from feckless, gun-worshiping halfwits bereft of moral character, mere days after surviving yet another school shooting. They shouldn’t have to deal with cowardice from the smoldering trash heap of the American right-wing ideological dumpster fire.
But they are, with aplomb even, and my heavens do I admire their poise. I feel a renewed energy, passion and righteous fucking anger coursing through my veins! I feel like I could run a marathon, and then another right after. That is their gift.
So I thank you, brave children, I thank you for the suffusion of energy this movement for sanity so desperately needed. A replenishing of the mana, as it were. I look forward to following your activism and reporting on your valiant efforts with great enthusiasm! You absolutely crushed it last week. Bravo!
Rally around these courageous spirits, my friends, now and in the future. Shelter these budding national treasures. Blanket their vulnerability to the worst elements in our country — the seething Randian sycophants and greedy peddlers in weaponry and other war profiteers. Breathe the life they have given us back into their sails. Tell them what they mean to you. These children have given us a gift, and it is one we should not squander.