Saturday, April 04, 2009

Much too Close for Comfort

I have a son in college. He happens to go to SUNY Binghamton, which I am told is a pretty good school--maybe the best in the SUNY system.

The City of Binghamton is nothing much. It has all the appearance of a town that once upon a time, like so many towns in America, showed promise and gave hope to its citizens. Today it probably does no such thing--going to downtown Binghamton is a little bit like visiting the sick ward, where the healthiest denizen has just one tube up his nose and manages to walk on crutches.

Yesterday the news got worse. My son is safe. But some terrible person armed with terrible (and quite legal) weapons barricaded an immigrant assistance center in downtown Binghamton and methodically shot and killed about fourteen people. The perpetrator was apparently himself an immigrant, recently laid off.

When I first saw the news item on a web-site sidebar, it only said "several shot in Binghamton" and I dropped what I was doing and called my son. I had seen enough of these campus-shootings on TV to imagine the incident might have taken place at his school. Fortunately I woke him out of an early afternoon slumber. The murders had taken place downtown. By the time I checked the news again, the lone gunman was dead and my son was on a bus headed back home for spring break.

We keep hearing about how we're "being kept safe" from terrorists and how "there haven't been any terrorists strikes since 9/11". I say this is a naked falsehood.

On several campuses, in several community centers, in churches, in offices--at wedding celebrations--terrorists with powerful weapons have invaded peaceful gatherings and created havoc. The victims are many. We're not safe. We live in a gun-saturated nation in which life is not held nearly as dear as piety would want us to believe.

Proud to be an American? Or disgusted with the pall of multiple-death gun-violence that never seems to lift.