In 1920, Hugh Lofting, a Brit who spent most of his life in the United States, wrote the first Story of Doctor Dolittle. In today’s world the original words are not considered worthy of the Newberry Medal for children’s literature it garnered in 1922.
However, the fictional animal – Pushmi-pullyu – the two-headed llama is an apt metaphor for my feelings about also being essentially British but with American citizenship. These United States, which I was proud to join twelve years ago, do not now feel the same. A feeling of disconnect colours my view to the extent I don’t know which way to go.
Nastiness permeates the political arena and has filtered into the public sphere to the extent it seems barely possible to discuss contentious issues without hate, or even a semblance of civility.
Why? Because racism and the politics of guns and abortion, notwithstanding the spectre of Trump and his acolytes, some of whom are attempting to out trump Trump, is eating into my soul and destroying all that I liked about being a part of this country.
I am fortunate to be able to bury my head, figuratively if not literally, in the sand as I walk the beach each morning with my dog, but still the news drifts in on the trade winds.
202 mass shootings in the US in 2022, and it’s only May. A mass murder is defined by the Department of Justice as ‘the killing of three or more people at one time in one location’. Last weekend there were six separate incidents – no, let’s be honest – mass murders or attempted mass murders:
May 13 – Water Street and Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 0 killed, 17 injured
May 14 – Jefferson Avenue, New York, Buffalo – 10 killed, 3 injured
May 15 – Airline Drive, Houston, Texas – 2 killed, 3 injured
May 15 – El Toro Road, Laguna Woods, California – 1 killed, 5 injured
May 15 – N Filmore Street, Amarillo, Texas – 1 killed, 4 injured
May 15 – 25th Street, Winston Salem, N Carolina; 0 killed, 7 injured
The Second Amendment declares ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’ is enshrined in the Constitution but that was in 1791.
Which one of those murders over the weekend of May 13th to May 15th, 2022, could be said to be at the hands of ‘a well regulated Militia’ and not a madman?
How can We the People not see that gun ownership must be controlled, must have safe guards to remove the ease of the purchase of firearms? To have stringent background checks. To close the loopholes.
The Violence Project reports the vast majority of mass murders are committed by men – around 95% – and that “white men are disproportionately responsible for mass shootings more than any other group.”
Interestingly, white men are largely behind the drive the tell women what they may and may not do with their bodies. A recent NBC poll showed only 5% of Americans believe abortion should be outright illegal. Yup! But that hasn’t stopped Governor Pete Rickets of Nebraska from declaring that, even in cases of incest or rape, a woman may not have an abortion. How dare he?
The same NBC poll reported 63% of Americans are opposed to overturning Roe v Wade but that hasn’t stopped governors like Greg Abbott of Texas from introducing a six-week abortion ban. A drip-drip eating away of the 1973 ruling. Maybe biology isn’t his strong suite and he doesn’t know pregnancy starts from the first day of a woman’s last period, in effect leaving only a one or two week window to end a pregnancy. A woman might not even know she is pregnant at six weeks. Maybe he doesn’t know menstrual cycles are not an exact science. That they can be varied, can be impacted by stress, by diet, so that window for some is even less.
If Roe v Wade is overturned, the United States will join places like El Salvador, Haiti, Iraq, Senegal, the Republic of Congo and others countries considered by the West to be third world.
Countries which do not have stellar human rights records.
Tolerance, compromise, civility, acceptance are all alien words in America now. Racism – blatant and insidious – is rampant in parts of the country. A country in danger of regressing. Of losing global credibility.
I recognize the privilege of options I have and the reality is that I am not so much drawn to Europe as pushed from the United States. That is the pushmi-pullyu effect I am feeling. I wonder was that how Hugh Lofting, a Brit with American citizenship, felt when he created his fictional character a century ago?