The Victims of This War Don’t Get a Wall
“This is a violent civilization — if civilization’s where I am.” — Gil Scott- Heron, “Gun”
Alexis Knutson doesn’t want to see her friend reduced.
That friend, she told The New York Times, “had the biggest, brightest smile. She always just had these dimples that, especially when she got excited about something — her smile was just huge.”
“I always had a rule,” said Knutson. “She couldn’t call me before 9 a.m. because I like my sleep. She would always call me at 6 a.m.”
Of course, she did. Because that’s how friends do one another. And Knutson hates the idea of seeing that friend reduced to a CNN chyron or a column of newsprint. “I don’t want her name to be another name next to an age on a list,” she said.
And yet, here we are. When death comes in acts of mass carnage as it did for Knutson’s friend and nine others last week at a supermarket in Boulder when a deranged gunman opened fire, what option is there? When death comes in bulk as constantly as it does in America, there is little time to individuate victims, to mourn them as singular persons, the way those who loved and knew them will.
Even to make a partial list of cities where it has happened — Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Newtown, Littleton, Charleston, Eugene, Atlanta, Pensacola, Thousand Oaks, Tucson, Pittsburgh, Parkland, El Paso, Annapolis, Orlando, Dallas, Blacksburg, Sutherland Springs, Honolulu, Hialeah, Washington — is to draw a blood-stained map of America.
“And to name victims through the years, to try and give each proper WEIGHT and reverence, would be to drown in sorrows: Annabelle Pomeroy, 14, Sonny Melton, 29, Isaiah Shoels, 18, Joyce Fienberg, 75, Sharonda Singleton, 45, Jaime Guttenberg, 14, John Roll, 63, Yaakov Aminov, 46, Martin Bodrog, 54, Melvin Lee, 58, Patrick Zamarripa, 32, Jordan Anchondo, 25, Xiaojie Tan, 49, Dennis Steinhoff, 73.