Not again…

Here we are again. The top news story is about yet another mass shooting in the United States, this time in Isla Vista, California. Sadly, it seems appropriate to re-post this entry from April 3, 2014, which couples the country’s problem with mass shootings by deranged persons with the aftermath of a local mass shooting.

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Last night, when the news broke about the shooting at Fort Hood, the first thought many people had was “not again.” Not again at Fort  Hood, and not again in general.

The timing was especially poignant for those of us in the Binghamton NY area, because today marks the fifth anniversary of the American Civic Association shootings, in which fourteen people died, including the mentally ill gunman, and four were wounded.

Despite the tragic loss of life, the ACA shooting is usually not present in the list of mass shootings that gets recited in the media when the next horrible shooting comes along. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Aurora. Newtown. Fort Hood.

I am not saying that we should not be remembering these other mass shootings. We should, and we should be doing more to avert similar deaths and injuries in the future.

What I do find disturbing is that so many have forgotten about the ACA tragedy. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why.

I am afraid that the primary reason is that the gunman and most of the dead were immigrants. Most of them were gathered in one of the American Civic Association’s classrooms, taking a class to improve their English skills, when they were shot. They were from Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti, Brazil, The Philippines. Two were in Binghamton as visiting scholars. Others had been resettled in the area as refugees. The ACA is well-known in the area as a gathering place for immigrants to study English or prepare for citizenship tests. Several of those who were shot were employees or volunteers who had embraced this important mission. Somehow, though nearly all of us in the United States are descended from immigrants or are immigrants ourselves, the story of the ACA shootings did not embed itself into our minds as have some of the other tragedies that took place in schools or other public settings. I’m sorry to say that I think people see themselves or their grand/children as being just like those gathered in an elementary school or at a movie theater, but that they don’t see themselves as people from a different country, with a different skin color, speaking with an accent, working toward citizenship.

Five years on, I don’t want these people to have been forgotten. I want them to be remembered – and to be remembered as neighbors, as members of our community, as people like us.

 

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

9 thoughts on “Not again…”

  1. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    I agree all mass shootings are indeed sad and should be remembered. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for reshining a light on this tragedy. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please comment on their post.

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  2. I think people do remember or at least they try to, what I fear however is the fact that people don’t see or understand how desensitised they have become to the problems that guns bring. It’s all so sad and so desperately unnecessary.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts. Some people do get desensitised, while others just go from shock to shock as each new mass shooting hits the national news. Meanwhile, many more people lose their lives or suffer injuries in individual incidents, which people only notice on a local level if they follow local news, thus missing their true scope within the society. As you say, all of it sad and unnescessary.

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      1. It is indeed my friend.

        Thank you again for sharing your heart and your thoughts, I am with you on this.

        Have a blessed rest of the week and keep on raising your voice, people will listen 🙂

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  3. Oh my! This is so important. .. and true. Empathy is evoked when the victim is “like me.” But we are so good at protecting ourselves by distancing.

    These days I’m involved in writing “My Father’s House,” the fictionalized story of my father who came to the U.S. from Sweden in 1910. Believe it or not, all you Scandinavians out there, he suffered insults because of his foreignness. It’s important for me to be feeling it as I enter into that period through my research and writing. It’s important to all of us to find a way to identify with the courage, hope, determination, and excitement of those who come today to share in the dream.

    And to suffer when we witness the cruel bias — ignorance, really.

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    1. Your writing project sounds fascinating. It is important for people to tell the stories of immigrants. When I was in high school, I took a social studies course called “Minorities in America.” It was the first time that I realized that my paternal grandparents, who had arrived from Ireland, and my maternal grandparents, who had arrived from Italy, had been treated as suspect, as “the other” by those already here in the US. I hope that we as a nation will recognize in new immigrants their similarity to our own personal or family history.

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