At some point it became common knowledge that Noam Chomsky’s morning routine involves the perusal of four or five newspapers and since, at 30, I’ve still got an adolescent interest in emulating the daily habits of my 94-year-old role models I subscribed last week to The Miami Herald (Memorial Day Sale–3 months for $3) and The New York Times (same, $4 a month for 4 months) and, for the week that I’ve had the two papers available on my tablet and phone, I’ve stayed consistent in giving them a quick and thorough morning perusal.
And in the process I discovered two things.
- Chomsky was right when he said it doesn’t take that long to hop through a couple newspapers in the morning. After just a half hour’s back-and-forthing between the apps, I feel informed about a pretty wide array of topical issues..
- The United States is an awful place.
Better than most places, for sure, but paired with a constant and decidedly immoral crisis of unaffordable healthcare we’ve also got over a thousand people getting shot to death each month–which is hard to talk about constructively, even in my head, because the words that come to mind are plucked from the same bouquet as everyone else and feel hollow: “staggering” and “rampant” and “appalling”…
Yesterday, during my shift at the restaurant, a party of fifteen guests, celebrating a boy’s birthday, dissolved into squabbling among the parents, with one of them finally, after so many Peronis, puffing his chest out and rising from his stool saying, “What’s an assault weapon? No tell me. Define it. What does that word even mean?”
What I imagine they were discussing was a California judge’s decision, last week, to lift an assault rifle ban, equating the high-power weapon to a Swiss Army Knife (not kidding) in what was, at best, a wet-lipped smirking effort to troll the left, and at worst a sign that this powerful authority figure can’t distinguish a pocket tool that says “snip,” and helps you set up a tent, from a long heavy contraption that says “boom” and rips Americans in half while they huddle under desks like in Parkland or scramble behind couches like in Orlando.
The party of fifteen disbanded in a kind of pall, with a good bit of pizza left uneaten. The server later told me that one father had cut it short in a huff and cancelled plans for the kids to convene at someone’s house afterward.
Reminds me: in the comment section of a popular local Instagram page, where last week’s mass shooting at Miami Gardens was being discussed, somebody wrote, “Miami is turning into Chicago. At least here I can carry a gun to protect myself.”
Interestingly, a few hours after the suburbanite father growled his defense of guns at the expense of his childrens’ Saturday, Miami saw its second mass shooting in a week. Nine people shot and three killed at 2 a.m. outside my other job, at Miami Dade College. Two of the people who’d been shot fled the scene but died when their car crashed into the college.
The victims were also armed.
Miami Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said gun violence is “the new pandemic” and I agree with the sentiment but need to quibble with the wording.
A pandemic is a global problem.
Twice-weekly attempts at mass murder, in the same city, aren’t a global problem. It’s about as American a thing can be without developing stripes.
Lemme point you again to a piece from earlier this week, about Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s “Peace and Prosperity” plan–a $90 million dollar initiative, to unfold over many years, whose $8 million one-year plan will be voted on this Tuesday by county commissioners.