Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) must be the kind of man Edmund Burke, Irish political philosopher had in mind when he wrote: “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” After another mass shooting, Thune’s advice is that people under assault: “… are going to have to take steps in their own lives to take precautions… As somebody said — get small.” (New York Times, Oct. 4)
For a man who took at least $852,000 in donations from the National Rifle Association, this is not surprising counsel to the families of the victims of massacres.
I grew up on a farm in Yankton County where a .22 single-shot rifle and a 12-gauge single-shot shotgun were the tools of farming and hunting. No rational person in this country is proposing that citizens be denied such guns in their households. But no citizen is entitled to have an arsenal of automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons whose only purpose is to massacre large assemblies of people.
The pious platitudes of prayer for victims of mass shootings are a shallow substitute for congressional action to pass effective gun control.
When I think of the dereliction of duty by Sen. Thune and most of his colleagues, I am reminded of The Hollow Men of T.S. Elliot’s provocative poem:
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar.
Today’s breed of politicians, including Sen. Thune, are the small hollow men of our times, getting smaller with each massacre.