Hucksters

Preface: I drafted this last year and left it unfinished so the timelines are off.With the recent one year anniversary of Newtown approaching, I thought it perfectly fitting that I post the piece as-is — raw and unfinished :

A cunning huckster knows instinctively how to sell you a trinket as the very finest example of bespoke jewelry. Regrettably, not even the tragedy at Newtown can silence the hucksters from selling ideology and fanaticism as sensible policy and thinking.

A few days ago, Michael Huckabee, stated:

“We ask why there’s violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee responded. “Should we be so surprised that schools become a place of carnage, because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police if they catch, us, but one day we stand before a holy God and judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.”

What Huckabee adheres to here , above all else, is hardly the jewel of theology but the trinkets of political ideology. I find little theological basis to claim a lack of surprise ,or I daresay, an implied culpability or quid-pro-quo on the part of the slain innocents. Instead, like a good huckster, the trinket of a political ideology opposed to public institutions, especially schools, and entwined with the gun lobby is presented as a bespoke jewel of theological insight.

It’s worth pointing out the deft sleight of hand intrinsic in positions such as Huckabee’s: the loss of innocent lives comes not from a rain of bullets from military-style weaponry in the hands of a killer — that admission of reality would upset the base all so dear to Huckabee’s political media career. No, it cannot be that reality; it must be the lack of public prayer in Newtown , like every other public school, that warrants , and to me, implies meriting such an act. What Huckabee and his brethren  manage to achieve is hardly the salve of theology to those killed, hurt or for the many others marred by the events. No, they administer salt to the wounds lest they admit a flaw or defect to their ideologies that events such as these undermine.

What hucksters value above all else is preserving the illusion that their game is fair — that they are the most earnest of dealers in principles– so if they claim that lives were taken not from a rain of bullets, but from a drought of prayer, then it preserves the cynical game that the hucksters actually play.

I cannot be sure but I would guess that to a child in a Newtown classroom that day — watching and hearing a barrage of bullets against the screams of terror rising around them– might in fact pray for the terror to end, and for their life and their friends’ lives to be saved. Perhaps they might pray for the bullets to stop and the gun to be wrested from the killer’s hands — the very thing the hucksters lack the courage or the political will to do.

I do not know how many prayers went answered and how many were left unanswered– a grim and rather inconvenient reality the hucksters cannot readily explain — so in the place of coherent thinking, we get its opposite : the problem is that we do not have enough guns– we now have to arm teachers and janitors and , well, almost everyone.

Note the wholly contradictory nature of the hucksters’ claims: we need more prayer  in public schools while at the same time embracing a blissful ignorance at the encroaching militarization into public spaces and public life that mandates an ever growing escalation in arms. In short, they want you to pray, but not if it takes away a single gun regardless of its firepower and kill count .  And don’t dare ask how the prescription for increasing militarization of the public preserves freedoms rather than impedes freedom, in this case, the freedom to be educated and still make it home , alive, for dinner.

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