In the wake of recent mass shootings in the U.S., NPR's Michel Martin looks at our current political moment and ponders what it means to feel "safe."
I was thinking about how often last week I heard people talking about being safe. In part, that's a function of location. Our office is just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. And last week, a lot of people who work in and around politics were reeling from the shooting of the Republican lawmakers who'd been practicing for an annual charity benefit, a baseball game against the Democrats. The shooting happened in a charming neighborhood in Northern Virginia. And when I got off the elevator at work that morning, I overheard someone say, if you can't be safe there, where can you be?
Just today, earlier, I found myself with a half hour to spare so I stopped in a cafe I had wanted to check out. And when I sat down to savor my cup of whatever, I overheard a woman talking to her friend about how happy she was that her son would soon be home from a fellowship in Asia. She was saying only half-jokingly she wanted him out of striking distance of a North Korean missile. She wanted him to be safe. There's that word again - safe. Where exactly is it safe? And who gets to be safe?
One interesting detail, we were sitting on the same block where a young white man walked into a pizza shop last year and fired several rounds from a military-style rifle based on twisted Internet rumors of a child pornography ring that does not, for the millionth time, actually exist. Thankfully, he didn't kill anybody, including the real children at the restaurant that day before he was able to surrender to the police, nor was he harmed in any way.