Chapter Twenty

This was a tough weekend with the mass shooting in Orlando.

Was it a hate crime? Was it terrorist influenced? Was it due to homophobia? How many times during the course of yesterday's news updates and interviews did we hear, "We are America and we are better than that!" What we are is United States citizens and that is what binds us together. 

Indeed, U.S.A. is not America!

America is the name of a whole continent. United States of America means that the United States belongs to America and NOT that America belongs to the United States. So when you refer to yourself and an American, remember that the citizens of these countries are also Americans.

A List of the Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History

1. Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (June 12, 2016)

Police say 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire at the club that calls itself the city's hottest gay bar. He took hostages, and after a three-hour standoff, police moved in. The gunman was killed, but not before perpetrating the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

At least 49 people were killed, and more than 50 were wounded and taken to area hospitals. Mateen was killed during a firefight with police.

2. Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. (April 16, 2007)

Seung-Hui Cho, a 23-year-old English major from Centerville, Va., entered the campus of Virginia Tech and opened fire.

Thirty-two people were killed, and 17 others were injured. Cho also killed himself.

3. Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (Dec. 14, 2012)

Adam Lanza went into Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 26 people — mostly children — before killing himself. He also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza.

4. Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas (Oct. 16, 1991)

In 1991, 35-year-old George Hennard walked into a cafeteria and opened fire with a handgun. He loaded and emptied his gun several times, leaving 23 people dead. Then he killed himself.

5. McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif. (July 18, 1984)

James Oliver Huberty, a 41-year-old unemployed security guard, opened fire on a McDonald's in San Ysidro using a shotgun and a pistol.

He killed 21 people and wounded 19. He was killed by police.

6. University of Texas Tower in Austin, Texas (Aug. 1, 1966)

Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old student who had served with the Marines, murdered his mother and his wife before climbing the University of Texas Tower with six firearms. He began firing at pedestrians below.

He killed 14 people and wounded 31 from the tower. He was killed by police.

7. Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. (April 20, 1999)

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, students at Columbine High School, entered the school with four guns and pipe bombs.

They killed 13 people and wounded 24, before killing themselves.

8. Edmond Post Office in Edmond, Okla. (Aug. 20, 1986)

Patrick Henry Sherrill shot and killed 14 co-workers before taking his own life

Tragedy and mass murder are not new to our nation. In fact, our nation has supported and at time glorified mass killings. 

9. Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif. (Dec. 2, 2015)

Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, opened fire inside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

They killed 14 people, and they were killed during a shootout with police.

10. American Civic Association, Binghamton, N.Y. (April 3, 2009)

Jiverly Wong, a 42-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, opened fire on an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y.

Wong killed 13 people and wounded four others before killing himself.

11. Fort Hood in Texas (Nov. 5, 2009)

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire using two handguns at the U.S. Army post in Texas.

He killed 13 people and wounded 30. Hasan was sentenced to death in 2013.

12. Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 16, 2013)

Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old former Navy reservist, opened fire at the Navy Yard. He killed 12 people before police killed him.

(Tamara's Note:) I'm not sure why, but the Emanuel AME church shooting with nine persons killed was left off this list, sad to say. It was my belief that a shooting with four or more victims is considered a mass shooting.

As I consider all the violence cited above, they all seem to be instances of hate crimes, don't you think?

The Two-Way

the two-way

These accounts are from our most recent history. May we not forget older accounts of sanctioned murder and massacre in the U.S.  Perhaps it is the quarter of my Native American blood that requires I recall government sanctioned genocide.

We, as a nation have come a long way… and yet still have much work to do.
On the morning of December 29, 1890, the Sioux chief Big Foot and some 350 of his followers camped on the banks of Wounded Knee creek. Surrounding their camp was a force of U.S. troops charged with the responsibility of arresting Big Foot and disarming his warriors. The scene was tense. Trouble had been brewing for months.
For the entirety of his 27 years, Black Elk’s somber eyes had watched as the way of life for his fellow Lakota Sioux withered on the Great Plains. The medicine man had witnessed a generation of broken treaties and shattered dreams. He had watched as the white men “came in like a river” after gold was discovered in the Dakota Territory’s Black Hills in 1874, and he had been there two years later when Custer and his men were annihilated at Little Big Horn. He had seen the Lakota’s traditional hunting grounds evaporate as white men decimated the native buffalo population. The Lakota, who once roamed as free as the bison on the Great Plains, were now mostly confined to government reservations.

Life for the Sioux had become as bleak as the weather that gripped the snow-dusted prairies of South Dakota in the winter of 1890. A glimmer of hope, however, had begun to arise with the new Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which preached that Native Americans had been confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. Leaders promised that the buffalo would return, relatives would be resurrected and the white man would be cast away if the Native Americans performed a ritual “ghost dance.”
As the movement began to spread, white settlers grew increasingly alarmed and feared it as a prelude to an armed uprising. “Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy,” telegrammed a frightened government agent stationed on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to the commissioner of Indian affairs on November 15, 1890. “We need protection and we need it now.” General Nelson Miles arrived on the prairie with 5,000 troops as part of the Seventh Cavalry, Custer’s old command, and ordered the arrest of several Sioux leaders.
When on December 15, 1890, Indian police tried to arrest Chief Sitting Bull, who was mistakenly believed to have been joining the Ghost Dancers, the noted Sioux leader was killed in the melee. On December 28, the cavalry caught up with Chief Big Foot, who was leading a band of upwards of 350 people to join Chief Red Cloud, near the banks of Wounded Knee Creek, which winds through the prairies and badlands of southwest South Dakota. The American forces arrested Big Foot—too ill with pneumonia to sit up, let alone walk—and positioned their Hotchkiss guns on a rise overlooking the Lakota camp.
As a bugle blared the following morning—December 29—American soldiers mounted their horses and surrounded the Native American camp. A medicine man who started to perform the ghost dance cried out, “Do not fear but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us.” He implored the heavens to scatter the soldiers like the dust he threw into the air.
The cavalry, however, went teepee to teepee seizing axes, rifles and other weapons. As the soldiers attempted to confiscate a weapon they spotted under the blanket of a deaf man who could not hear their orders, a gunshot suddenly rang out. It was not clear which side shot first, but within seconds the American soldiers launched a hail of bullets from rifles, revolvers and rapid-fire Hotchkiss guns into the teepees. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Lakota offered meek resistance.
Big Foot was shot where he lay on the ground. Boys who only moments before were playing leapfrog were mowed down. In just a matter of minutes, at least 150 Sioux (some historians put the number at twice as high) were killed along with 25 American soldiers. Nearly half the victims were women and children.
The dead were carried to the nearby Episcopal Church and laid in two rows underneath festive wreaths and other Christmas decorations. Days later a burial party arrived, dug a pit and dumped in the frozen bodies. For decades, survivors of the massacre lobbied in vain for compensation, while the U.S. Army awarded 20 Medals of Honor to members of the Seventh Cavalry for their roles in the bloodbath.
When Black Elk closed his wizened eyes in 1931, he could still envision the horror. “When I look back now from this high hill of my old age,” he told writer John G. Neihardt for his 1932 book “Black Elk Speaks,” “I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there.”
It was not the last time blood flowed next to Wounded Knee Creek. In February 1973 activists with the American Indian Movement seized and occupied the site for 71 days to protest the U.S. government’s mistreatment of Native Americans. The standoff resulted in the deaths of two Native Americans.

I have fears...

  • fears for our nation
  • fears for our children
  • fears for our grandchildren and all the future generations

If we look at our society through the lens of love, will it help us to become more tolerant of "others"? You know them, don't you? 

  • those who don't go to the same church as we do...
  • those who hold different ideologies and beliefs than we do...
  • those who may not have entered our country legally...
  • those who speak a different language than we do...
  • those who have different skin coloring than us...
  • those who are of the LGBT community...

Or do we prefer to be the Pharisee who stands in the courtyard crying out, "O God, Thank You that I am not like that sinner over there..." (my paraphrase of Luke 18:9-14).

And so I pray:
God, God... fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may see the face of Christ in each person I come into contact with. Then again I pray that each person I come into contact with may see the face of Christ reflected back to them.

Pour me out and fill me with your Spirit. May I seek to right injustice as I open my eyes and become sensitive to it. May I seek to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

Even so, Amen.


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