Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thoughts and Prayers: The American Way of Evading Meaningful Action Through Resort to Meaningless "Religious" Nonsense

Rafi Schwartz, "Every Member of Congress Who Took Money From the NRA and Tweeted 'Thoughts and Prayers' to Las Vegas":

So, in lieu of any substantive gun control, what do America’s senators and congresspeople have to offer? That tried and true chestnut of noncommittal national mourning: “Thoughts and prayers.” And just as in the past, those thoughts and prayers seem to have been paid for in part by the National Rifle Association, whose campaign donations and scare-mongering have effectively blocked any life-saving legislation which might prevent a person from getting their hands on a fully automatic machine gun they can then use to pump bullets into dozens of innocent people. 
So who is sending their NRA-sponsored well wishes to the victims of the Las Vegas massacre today? Let’s take a look, with a little help from the campaign contribution database at

Tara Isabella Burton, "10 faith leaders on 'thoughts and prayers' — and action — after tragedy":

The trope of "thoughts and prayers" after a tragedy is so common that it has become a model for performative sympathy and inaction. It’s the title of a satirical video game in which players are challenged to use “thoughts and prayers” to stop school shootings (spoiler alert: it doesn't work). It's the title, too, of a particularly cynical BoJack Horseman episode about mass shootings, in which beleaguered film producers find themselves rolling their eyes while they trot out the phrase, again and again, in response to real events as they try to get back to the "actually pressing business of making sure the movie gets made."

Michael Hiltzik, "'Thoughts and prayers' — and fistfuls of NRA money: Why America can't control guns": 

There is no better example of the corrosive effect of money on American politics than the  spending of the National Rifle Assn
The gun rights organization spent a stupendous $54.4 million in the 2016 election cycle, almost all of it in "independent expenditures," meaning spending for or against a candidate but not a direct contribution to a campaign. The money went almost entirely to Republicans to a degree that almost looks like a misprint (but isn't): Of independent expenditures totaling $52.6 million, Democrats received $265. 
If you're looking for a reason that politicians are quick to declare that their "thoughts and prayers" are with the victims of the horrific slaughters that have become virtually routine in American life, but do nothing further to stop them, look no further.

Jeremy Stahl, "Guns vs. Thoughts and Prayers":

On the road from Mandalay Bay to Las Vegas City Hall, the site of a prayer vigil on Monday evening, there was a set of signs for the Vegas Machine Gun Experience. At that vigil, the notion that such instruments of mass death might have had something to do with Sunday’s massacre was not a subject of conversation. Instead, speakers focused on the unifying power of prayer. "We ask you, Lord, at a time like this, at a time of such tragedy, that you will help every one of us to look deep within and to no longer make it about us, but to make it about you and about one another," said one clergyman. 
"Father we ask that you will forgive all of us who have had issues with each other," he continued. "All that has gone on in this nation for so many years. Lord, we just need your help today. Will you bind our hearts together? Will you bring us together as a nation? Will you make us one again?" 
"There's no words that we can say except to cry out to God," said another. 
There are indeed no words if the only appropriate ones are verboten. Such words would contemplate how and why we live in a society where a man like the Vegas shooter has access to these kinds of weapons. But heaven forbid anyone politicize a tragedy in the first 24 hours.

Kirsten Powers, "Why 'thoughts and prayers' is starting to sound so profane":

[I]t's not enough. Nor is it what we hire politicians to do. We elect them to fix problems, enact policies and keep us safe. 
Instead, we have elected officials — many of them self-described conservative Christians who also happen to take money from the National Rifle Association — using cries for "thoughts and prayers" as some sort of inoculation against responsibility or action when it comes to gun violence.

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