I usually create a Hall of Infamy for my last column of the year. This year I realized what an almost impossible task that was unless I had a book length space to fill. Otherwise I would surely do a disservice to some worthy idiot who annoyed us all in 2012.
The Republican nominees for president alone could take up veritable Dickens' length chapters detailing their idiocy, bumble footedness, ineptness and inability to not say something so horribly insensitive that it left most of America looking dazed and confused.
Of course, the candidates at least were paying their own way to one extent or another. People or corporations. ... oops, that's a redundancy, isn't it? Corporations are people, God bless their gold-plated souls. At any rate, if you were a candidate, the people backing you financially were people who actively made the choice to throw their good money away on your candidacy. At least the money was used to maintain the trappings of democracy in America.
On the other hand, the U.S. Congress is paid through our tax dollars and I, for one, would like us to have an annual evaluation done on its performance with any future paychecks tied to actually getting better than an F-minus as a grade. Because this Congress seems to have truly pulled out all the stops in trying to be the most useless and pathetic group of people sucking on the public teat since Reagan's welfare mom picking up her check in a Cadillac.
But all others paled in comparison to the NRA, which recently announced that the way to protect our children from gun violence in schools is to have armed guards at all schools. Isn't that how they do it in Afghanistan to protect girls who want an education? I thought we were trying to teach them our way of doing things. Instead, we are being told that the answer to gun violence is more guns. Schools should start looking like armories, guarded forts keeping out crazies with semi automatics.
What a great lesson for our school children. They might as well learn from kindergarten that in America, they are not safe anywhere because guns are everywhere. So their school isn't safe. Their church isn't safe. Their grocery store isn't safe. Their movie theaters aren't safe. If they're lucky, that armed guard will get off a warning shot before the killer with body armor and an assault rifle takes him or her out. Because unless we arm these guards as though they are in an active combat zone, they are next to useless against someone dressed for battle.
I recently went to a local cheese store in town to pick up what was to be my contribution to Christmas Eve dinner. I stood there in front of a counter full of cheeses and various salamis and the aroma of it all brought me right back to 6 North Mississippi Ave. in Atlantic City, right back to my father's grocery store, right back to the aromas of hanging provolone and dried salamis and sliced prosciutto. There were guns in that neighborhood, though I didn't know it at the time. My mother was very careful to keep all knowledge of street life from us.
I walked into our grade school every morning fearing nothing more than disappointing the nuns who taught us and, by extension, disappointing my mother and father. I never once had a drill in which I practiced hiding from bad men with guns. OK, I did spend an inordinate amount of time in the hallway with my hands over my head to protect me from nuclear attack, but honestly, I was only vaguely aware of what a nuclear attack even was.
Our kids deserve schools in which they are safe. And if that means that adults have to give up assault weapons and clips that fire hundreds of rounds without reloading, then so be it. No, it's not a complete solution. But it's a start. And it beats hell out of armed guards at every door at every school in this nation as though we are a nation under siege from ourselves.
So despite the wealth of nominees available for induction into the Hall of Infamy this year, I think the NRA deserves that honor all by itself. Congratulations.
Elise Patkotak is an Alaska writer and author of "Parallel Logic," a memoir of her 28 years in Barrow. Website, www.elisepatkotak.com.