There will be moments of silence, magazine cover stories, and memorial Facebook pages. The place where nearly 60 innocent people were slain last week will become hallowed ground, a touchstone of grief, swamped in flowers, teddy bears, notes and prayer candles.
We’ll hear stories about the first responders’ heroism, and the selflessness of concertgoers who saved loved ones and even perfect strangers.
TV media will clog the airwaves with armchair experts; the same professors and retired law enforcement people who were trotted out the last time.
Cable news networks will crank out graphics and new dramatic theme music to introduce their segments about the tragedy. The lives of terrorist Stephen Paddock, his relatives and friends will be turned inside-out with every detail reported, no matter how unrelated they are to the killings.
Social-media communities will start out on one accord of sympathy, then devolve into the usual dogfighting, demagoguery and name calling, ignoring the matter at hand.
Someone will invoke Chicago, but only to make a counterpoint, not out of real genuine concern. They’ll do so without once acknowledging the flood of guns brought in from neighboring states by the trunk-load.
Members of Congress will offer their thoughts and prayers, tweet Bible verses, harrumph over the carnage, and call for “something” to be done, all while doing nothing.
Talk and talk
It’s all part of the culture, now. We reflexively offer thoughts and prayers, in part because it’s how we’ve been taught to respond. We also do it because we think it absolves us from doing more, granting immunity from undertaking the hard, unpopular and risky work required to affect real change.
We’ll keep returning to elective office people who have no intention of defying the NRA, or introducing anything new or different that might help prevent the next domestic terrorist attack — and make no mistake — there will be another.
While we squabble over the merits of pre-game kneeling, legislation written by industry lobbyists moves forward to protect the status quo.
We columnists will pontificate about Las Vegas, TV pundits will opine about it, and radio talk-show hosts will talk and talk and talk.
The Russians, ISIS, deep-state conspiracy theorists, false-flag truthers and other assorted crazies will infect the situation with fake news, bogus tweets and doctored photos, all to keep us fighting and distracted.
We’ll resume our perennial debate over why some media outlets describe certain mass shooters in sympathetic terms, i.e., music lovers, “lone wolves” or merely “troubled.”
Round and round
We’ll rehash Sandy Hook, Orlando, Columbine, Fort Hood and Virginia Tech, and we’ll give up trying to remember them all.
We’ll call for more money for mental-health treatment.
We’ll drag out the math, noting that it marks the 275th mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year and that more Americans have died from gun-related incidents in 2017 than all the opioid overdoses, suicides and vehicle crashes combined.
Some of us will tag Las Vegas as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, and we’d be wrong. There have been plenty. On Easter Sunday 1873, 153 people were shot and killed in Colfax, La., when some black citizens tried to vote. On Dec. 29, 1890, 300 Native American men, women and children were slaughtered by the U.S. Cavalry on the banks of Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota.
For a while, at least, people will be afraid, though 90 Americans are shot everyday, everywhere, from the grocery store, to church.
We will go round and round on this ride until the shock and newness of this one wears off.
We’ll fight and bicker, and bicker and fight. The talking points will fall the way they always do. And unless someone in Congress is willing to stand up, is willing to risk losing re-election for the greater good, not a damned thing will change.
— Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org