Texas officials have slowly begun to reveal the truth about their grievous breach of trust in failing to protect the children of Uvalde. On Friday, they admitted that they made the wrong decision in failing to enter the classroom immediately instead of waiting forty minutes for a janitor show up with keys to the door. When Governor Greg Abbott took to the stage in his first news conference on the day after the shooting, he was surrounded by chest-thumping, heavily armed law enforcement officials who misled the public about what happened about Uvalde. They heaped praise on the alleged heroics of the responding officers, claiming that their actions saved lives. If those officers saved any lives, it was their own—at the expense of children trapped in a classroom with the gunman, who were desperately calling 9-1-1 asking to “send the police.” As those calls were being made, the commander on the scene and eighteen officers waited in safety. And waited. And waited . . . until it was too late to save anyone except themselves.
Greg Abbott and everyone in the chain of command of the officers who stood outside the classroom for forty-minutes should resign. Most all Abbott, who presided over a carefully orchestrated “prebuttal” of the tactics used by law enforcement, attempting to bend the narrative before the true facts emerged. (Much like Bill Barr’s distorted “preview” of Robert Mueller’s report before its release.) But Abbott cannot restrain the truth in this instance. Too many people were at the scene, begging for the officers to enter the school to disarm or kill the gunman.
Abbott has now been caught in a monstrous lie and has resorted to the defense of all liars—“I was misled.” Abbot claims he was unaware of the slow response by law enforcement when he heaped preemptive praise on the derelict officers. But Abbott must have known there were serious questions about the response—media reports were already circulating about a timeline that did not match the descriptions of heroic officers leaping to action. Reporters at his first news conference repeatedly challenged the vague, evasive explanations offered by pistol-packing law enforcement officials. Cowards and liars, all. Not one had the courage to speak the truth.
The story offered by Texas has changed eighteen times in material respects. When the officers breached the classroom, they knew there were nineteen dead students. But initial reports were that there were “some” deaths, then “two,” “four,” “ten,” “fourteen,”—all while nineteen bodies lay in a classroom.
We have no reason to believe a single word uttered by any Texas official about the tragedy at Uvalde. The Department of Justice must intervene and treat this matter as a domestic terrorism investigation. The DOJ and FBI must remove a serious national tragedy from the inept hands of the law enforcement agencies that botched the response and have every incentive bury the truth along with the children of Uvalde.
At some level, the details of the slow law enforcement response are irrelevant. After millions of years of evolution, humans are programmed to protect their children above all else. Except in Texas, where the safety of law enforcement officers is demonstrably more important than the lives of children. And except in the GOP where the profits and campaign contributions of gun manufacturers are more important than the lives of children. One reader posted a comment yesterday that said Republicans have concluded that children “are an acceptable sacrifice” to feed the death maw of the gun industry.
The delay by nineteen officers outside the classroom door in Uvalde did not start when the gunman began shooting children. It began two decades ago, when the gun industry revitalized itself by marketing weapons of war to immature, insecure, rash young males looking for a way to release their testosterone-fueled rage. The sale of military style assault rifles revitalized the gun industry—as did the congressional law that immunizes gun manufacturers from civil liability for deaths caused by their guns. Congressional Republicans contributed to the excruciating forty-minute delay outside the classroom door in Uvalde. They gave an eighteen-year-old the right to buy more firepower and rounds of ammunition than nineteen law enforcement officers who stood in fear and indecision outside a classroom where children were calling for help.
But the list does not stop with congressional Republicans. It includes Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, Tucker Carlson, Gregg Abbott, every GOP legislature passing “constitutional carry laws,” and the Democrats who refuse to override the filibuster to save children’s live, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Author Clara Jeffrey has published a blistering recital of everyone who helped the Uvalde murderer get to the point of opening fire on innocent school children. See Mother Jones, He Did Not Act Alone. Per Jeffrey,
[W]hatever we learn about the Uvalde shooter, or any future ones—because there will be more—don’t say they “acted alone,” which is largely media code for “this doesn’t appear to be Islamic terrorism.” No matter the particulars, these “lone” gunmen all have scores of accomplices. Here is a wholly incomplete list of those who bear direct responsibility in this slaughter of 19 children and two teachers . . . .
As the Senate begins efforts to address gun violence, some are calling for others—like me and millions of Americans—to tone down their language about Republican complicity in mass deaths. I refuse to do so, and I hope you will refuse, as well. Part of the Republican game-plan is to appeal to the natural instincts of Democrats to take the high-road in moments of crisis—here, asking us to “be polite” or “civil.” After fifty years of mass shootings in schools—commencing at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966—Republicans who defend gun rights above lives are no longer due any presumption of good faith or restraint on our part. That strategy has achieved an ever-mounting death toll of young children.
The next March for Our Lives will be held across the nation on June 11, 2022. Among other efforts to support gun control, please consider marching with millions of other Americans. The Women’s March in 2017 changed the live of millions of Americans—it converted them into lifelong political activists. Let us hope that the 2022 March for Our Lives will turn millions of Americans into activists for gun control. (And let’s call it what it is; we don’t want “gun safety.” We want to control the sale of weapons of war.)
As we enter the Memorial Day observance in America, let’s honor not only those who sacrificed their lives to defend America but also the innocent victims whose lives have been sacrificed at the altar of gun manufacturer profits.
These are difficult times, but we must rise above our grief and despair to change America. Stay strong. I will be in touch over the weekend.