An Asian American in Newtown, the President’s “Gettysburgian” address, and more on the changing gun control debate


I was hoping not to see it, but in this era of diversity, how could we not expect an Asian American name on the roster of the dead children at Newtown.

Madeleine Hsu, 6 was among the 20 gunned down on Friday.

She was described as “very upbeat and kind” and the “girl who wore flowery dresses” in a Wall Street Journal account. But there was no photo and little else, as the family told an AP reporter they wouldn’t be speaking to the media.

As the facts come in, here’s one thing that stuck out for me after a weekend of news discussion shows.

Except for these mammoth events where lunacy and guns cross paths and innocents get in the way, we are a safe, safe society.

According to latest crime stats, there is no reason to feel you need a gun to be safe.

That is unless you have an issue, about paranoia, criminality, or something else. But America is much safer than everyone thinks.

Only with the addition of guns, does the safety level decrease and the danger level rise.

Another interesting tidbit: On at least two of the Sunday network news chat shows members of Congress who have a pro-gun viewpoint were invited to come on the programs.

There were no takers.

No one had the courage to stand up for their “gun lobby” convictions in the face of 20 children dead.

That’s telling, and how I know we’ve reached a turning point in the debate over gun safety.

It’s the power of the Newtown 20.

The night-capper, of course, was President Obama’s speech on Sunday night.

It was just the right kind of speech. Moving and emotional without being overly so, spiritual without being too religious, although the president did read from scripture (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) and even invoked Jesus’ name at the end.

But he was more in the role of president as national comforter. He was Parent-in-Chief, describing what it’s like to be a daddy. He showed us the real value of the young lives lost. They are all part of us.

The idea of the nation as a family, came to mind. And when he mentioned “love,” I thought the president knocked it out of the park.

But it seemed to give him a bit of courage to say the bold political words that he had yet to say as forcefully in his administration.

When it comes to gun violence he’d visited so many other scenes in his four years, but last night he said it as plainly as he could: “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”

He spoke of the “obligation to try.”

And then he laid out the policy path:

“In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.

“Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?

“Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

It was already a great speech.

But was it” Gettysburgian,” as one writer suggests?

If we are caught in a modern civil war over guns, it’s an appropriate comparison. We have to come together on this issue, once and for all. The tragedy of 20 innocent children senselessly massacred goes beyond the fatalities of war. We aren’t on the battlefield, we are on Main Street U.S.A.

And then came one last invocation of the religious.

Said the president:  “Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

And then he read the childrens’ names one by one, including Madeleine Hsu’s.

(See my original post on the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog).

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