The response of Gov. Hutchinson and other state elected officials to the massacre at the LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, in the early morning on Sunday, July 12, 2016, has been feckless, hollow, minimal and obfuscating. By his inactions, the governor has highlighted his timidity and cowardice. After the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the governor has done nothing and said only that he is concerned about terrorist attacks on potential targets within the state. He is not concerned about violence against the LGBT community or the Latino community in Arkansas. He is not concerned that a gay couple might be beaten to death for holding hands or that an LGBT venue or event might be the next site of a mass shooting. Strikingly, in his minimal remarks the governor deliberately did not say that the 49 people killed and the 53 people wounded are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and that Saturday night was Latin night at the Pulse gay nightclub. While hundreds of people lined up for hours to donate blood and millions of dollars were raised to help the victims and their families and the LGBT community in Orlando within three days of this hate crime and the airline JetBlue was flying the partners and families of any victims to Orlando at no charge, the governor of Arkansas, who is a former member of Congress and a former undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, failed us and failed to be a leader whom the state or the nation could be proud.
The magic words
Hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo, higgity piggity, radical Islamic terrorism. Now throw in an alakazam! and a few hooahs and mumble this magic incantation, over and over, louder and louder, until you reach the same keening crescendo as a deranged village idiot or a presumptive presidential nominee.
But I repeat myself ...
Yes, my brothers and sisters! Merely recite the magic incantation of "radical Islamic terrorism" and you, too, can help the Grand Old Party smite evil Muslims, including that nefarious, born-in-Kenya black man in the White House! Yes, my friends, repeating this magically delicious charm will most definitely protect lily-white good folk from those dusky barbarians storming the gates of citadel America.
Or is it the unhinged gates of Christian America? Land of billionaire hillbillies and movie star preachers, babbling crude. Braggarts, bullies and bigots peddling prosperity gospels and telling tall tales of pistol-packing infidels under every rock and around every corner. They hate us for our freedoms, you know. They're trying to impose sharia law, you know.
Are you poor? Plant a seed and get rich quick, for Jesus' sake. Are you sick? Dig deep, and conjure up enough blind faith (and cash) to heal thyself — anything less is godless socialism. Pray for America and then come, let us go down together and worship the golden calves of mammon and manufactured paranoia.
God bless the bogeymen, for they shall keep us afraid. Of everything and everyone. Much too afraid to notice a rising, toxic tide of fascism that lifts only the yachts of a privileged few. God bless the bogeymen, for they shall justify our blood lust. And our love of guns. And armor-piercing bullets and semi-automatic assault rifles. God bless the bogeymen, for they fill our bellies with hate radio and Fox News.
Your magic incantations will not save you. And the things you should really fear are much closer than you know.
An open letter to Ken Starr
I am baffled by you. You see, for me, it would be hard to live with myself, to look at myself in the mirror and to feel any sense of self-worth. And, the crazy thing about it is, you seem to be pretty thrilled with yourself. You walk around with a Trump-like confidence, with no remorse, no guilt, without even the slightest notion of the deep shame that would normally be present in a person with your history — a person who is only looking out for himself no matter what it costs others.
In my case, your actions cost a lot. I was an emotional wreck throughout my teenage years, spending most of my time at my grandparents' house watching the television as my aunt was led in-and-out of prisons. My grandmother and I would sit in the middle of her living room, holding hands, crying, praying and wondering how in God's green earth this happened. We waited for her phone calls and watched the mailbox for her letters. We listened as nighttime comics made light of the situation and there was absolutely nothing we could do. We sat in a dim-lit living room in pain. Our hearts were so hurt, it caused physical pain.
And, all for what? To get Clinton out of office? To prove that you are a big man? As we all now know, nothing, I repeat nothing, came out of Whitewater. It was a made-up lie by a sick man. You never wanted the truth. You took a lie (that you knew was a lie) and you ran with it. You got in an 18-wheeler and ran over us with a lie.
So now I turn on the news and find out that you were put in charge of college kids. And, while you were in charge of these young lives, you helped cover up a sex scandal. And all I can think is: He did it again. It's all about you, isn't it? Your agenda comes first over everything else. Never mind my family (and the countless other Arkansans you stepped on), never mind the poor college girls who were assaulted, never mind the truth. Let's just skip over all of that so we can make ourselves look good. Is that your thought process?
As a Christian, I am called to forgive others as Christ has forgiven me. And, I take that calling very seriously, but for some reason, even today I can't seem to let go of the hurt you caused my family. So, I'm asking for an apology. I want an apology to my Aunt Susan first because you know what you did to her. And then I want an apology to my entire family for putting us through the unnecessary pain that YOU caused us and that ruined what was supposed to be the best years of my grandmother's life. And, then, I want you to apologize to the young women who were sexually assaulted and for not standing up for them when they needed an advocate. I want you to look deep into your soul and for the first time show a little remorse for those you've stomped on. And, maybe, just maybe, that would help me in a healing process that has been years in the running.
Gini Wietecha (niece of Susan McDougal)