The Opportunity of Crimes

On Monday, a shooter killed six people at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Three of the dead were children. Reckoning with school shootings, with children dying, with life ending abruptly never gets any easier despite rises in occurrences. 

Politicians’ responses to the shooting  reveal more than just stances on gun laws. Over the years, many of them have morphed into the notion that such horrible events serve as opportunity. Look at their actions and answers, and in good faith, these politicians believe what they’re doing (or not doing) will make schools, particularly children, safer; it’s an opportunity to improve the problem of violence coming to the schools. 

It is hard to take anyone in good faith who’s in politics, though. Many of their reactions demonstrate a belief that these destructive, heartbreaking killings are a way to save money – to save money in order to have more money or shift the money elsewhere. It’s a blatantly capitalist point of view, one that adheres to the myopic, finance-only bit of decision making common in politics. 

How It's Happening

Whether they’re of the opinion that these crises of death and violence produce an opportunity to save and shift tax money is nothing that any politician has spoken blatantly, of course. Likely, none of them will. That would be too heartless. It’s possible that some don’t even realize that’s the role they’re playing in this, which implies ignorance. And an ignorant politician isn’t hard to fathom. But the actions, when added together, point to a matter of money, over and over. 

Frequently, legislators push for private schools, which often do not require public funding. Some of these laws are euphemized as “school choice” or “voucher programs.” And many require some form of shifting tax money away from public schools, ostensibly leading to the privatization of schooling completely. It’s not that this has been suggested by lawmakers only once. It’s a part of a plan to take away funding from public education. Yet doing so opens up issues of more discrimination, lack of protection for those with disabilities, and issues of segregation. 

The attempt to take money away from public schools is nothing new. In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey wants to use monies designed for schools to be spent for “whitewater park” and prison. Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee said in direct response to the recent school shooting in Nashville that in order to keep his own daughter safe, he homeschools her, implying that if other parents do the same, students would be safe. It doesn’t take a slippery slope to come to the conclusion that it would save a lot of money in taxes: parents are often responsible for purchasing the materials in homeschooling. Representative Burchett also argued that he doesn’t believe that laws or lawmakers can fix school shootings. Sorry, kids, teachers, administrators, and custodians.  

It’s fitting, too, that certain state governments are of a faction driving the ban of books in school. Not only does it inch parents towards private schooling or homeschooling – due to being afraid of what’s being taught in these scary institutions – but it gives another opportunity for the demonization of teachers, who are morphing from heroes to antagonists in the public eye. When this happens, voters have no issue with legislators stripping funding, no problem with disregarding the profession, no qualms with viewing education as the problem: take a look at this Instagram post and its comments. Some quick scrolling reveals harsh degradation. 

A recent poll published by The Wall Street Journal demonstrates that the United States’ citizens are losing faith in certain values, values that have commonly defined the country: patriotism, religion, community involvement, and having kids. The one “value” that goes up? Money. 

Money is now more important than anything else in the country. Save money, shift money, make money, stiff those without money. It’s what our politicians do best. School shootings are not going to make them act differently. 

Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down