This morning, in off-the-cuff remarks to the media, President Donald Trump pronounced what happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night to be “in many ways a miracle”.
Fifty-eight dead. More than 500 injured. Immeasurable horror and grief and misery, untold pain to come, as families try to come to terms with the naked evil that ripped apart their lives and stripped away their loved ones.
Kudos, of course, to the intrepid police officers and SWAT teams that scrambled, in the teeth of great danger, to locate the madman and put an end to the carnage. They are owed an enormous debt of gratitude for their valor. Absolutely.
But a miracle?
This uttered by an American president both ardently supportive of and staunchly supported by the National Rifle Association, an organization doggedly determined to protect the rights of Americans to carry assault weapons.
A host of different descriptors come to mind: reprehensible; disgusting; deplorable; disgraceful; blameworthy; shameful; repugnant; unforgivable.
Pick one. Pick them all, actually - they all apply.
I suppose it is a “miracle” of sorts that the American president, US congressional leaders, and a great swath of the American citizenry continue to defend their Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”, while depraved countrymen use said weapons to execute thousands of Americans in massacre after massacre after massacre, from schools to army bases to nightclubs to churches to music festivals.
It’s a miracle that this continues in a civilized, developed society - if by that one means “unbelievable” or “unfathomable”.
Defenders of the “right to carry” should be mandated to spend serious time in the trauma bay of any large American hospital, to bear intimate witness to the unrelenting waves of critically wounded gunshot victims as they crash through the doors, bleeding and broken and dying.
They should be forced to trudge alongside the families of those who are murdered, as they “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”, as they descend into a black hole of grief and despair, never again to see their sons, their daughters, their mothers, their fathers…
Perhaps then, at long last, the enormity of this malignant stain on the fabric of American society would gain some purchase on their souls.
Now that would be a miracle.