Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association (NEA)
We have absolutely no affiliation with the National Education Association.
“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”
Barack Obama, June 18th, 2015 (after the Charleston, S.C. church shooting)
"But our country stands as the disturbing outlier. Only the United States has such a long, long, long list of mass public murders by a lone gunman. The reason is simple. Our laws allow dangerous people to easily purchase military-style, rapid-fire assault weapons. That’s the only difference.”
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, February 19th, 2018 (after the latest shooting in Florida)
OBAMA AND GARCIA – “Mostly False”
The website Politifact gave President Barack Obama a “Mostly False” rating for his comment that mass violence doesn’t occur in other countries.
Because we are not certain that Politifact will take the time to rate NEA President Garcia’s most recent statement about gun violence, the Anti-NEA Blog decided to undertake its own research.
After careful consideration, we conclude that her comments, like Obama’s, are also “Mostly False.”
THESIS OF THIS BLOG POST – Garcia uses half-truth and outright factual omission to push an anti-gun agenda
Garcia is essentially making two claims:
She doesn’t mince words either – she lays the blame squarely on guns (what she calls “the disturbing outlier”):
“Other countries have people with mental health illnesses. Other countries have people who watch violent movies and play violent video games and post violent social media. Other countries have people who murder. But our country stands as the disturbing outlier.”
The problem with Garcia’s statement (and the reason why she has been judged “Mostly False”) is that she intentionally misleads her readers by mixing half-truth with outright factual omission.
The Half Truth – Stop focusing on a “lone gunmen”
Garcia claims that:
“Only the United States has such a long, long, long list of mass public murders by a lone gunman.”
This is a half-truth because Garcia is arbitrarily focusing on a “lone gunman” committing mass murder. Why does it matter if a mass murder is committed by one person (Sandy Hook, US), two people (Columbine, US), three people (Ma’a lot Israel), or an entire group of people (Westgate Mall, Nairobi)?
What purpose is served by making this distinction?
Why does it matter how many people carried out the atrocity?
The Outright Factual Omission - You forgot three things ...
Garcia omits three very important facts:
Anti-Gun Agenda or Bust - All other points of view be damned!
We agree with Garcia on one point – no one wants “dangerous people to easily purchase military-style, rapid-fire assault weapons.”
What rational person wouldn’t agree?
But wouldn’t this same rational person be open to a rational discussion about how to properly address this issue?
“We will not play that game. We demand a plan that will keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.”
This approach reminds us of her attitude towards Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last year. If you are not familiar with this, we suggest you read our last Anti-NEA blog post which details this entire affair:
“NEA President Garcia tries to settle a personal score with her latest publicity stunt.”
If you don’t have time to go back and read the entire post, here is an important quote which highlights Garcia’s unwillingness to consider any point of view but her own:
“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called me the other day saying we should talk. But this seems premature. So I sent her a letter, asking for the answers that we didn’t get from her confirmation hearing. I have yet to receive a response …”
As we said in that last post, you don’t start a conversation with an ultimatum.
When Garcia decides to discuss an issue only on her own terms, she is short-circuiting the solution process before it even starts.
Final Point – Garcia doesn’t speak for all union members
The teachers who write for the Anti-NEA Blog are forced members of the National Education Association - part of our state union dues are sent to that organization without our consent.
In any case, we are still full NEA members.
As members, we want to make clear that Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s viewpoint on this particular issue does not represent our viewpoint – she does not speak for all NEA members when she pursues her anti-gun agenda.
LONE GUNMEN – Garcia’s Half -Truth
“Only the United States has such a long, long, long list of mass public murders by a lone gunman.”
We would agree that there have been numerous mass murders by lone gunmen in the United States – that part of Garcia’s statement is true. She didn’t provide specific references for her statement but we will help her out on this point.
The following table only goes up to 2012, but it is still useful because it traces mass shootings all the way back to 1966 so you get a good historical view:
FACTUAL OMISSION #1 – The “lone gunman” and the number of deaths
When you take a look at the above chart, you realize that a full 50% of those mass shooting occurred in the United States (16 out of 32).
This is certainly more support for Garcia’s claim that there has been a “long, long, long list of mass public murders.”
We don’t deny this.
But if you look at the total number of individuals killed, you realize that more died outside of this country (288) than inside (231).
This is where we start to recognize that Garcia only provided a half-truth.
And to continue the point, consider this chart from Top 5 of Anything website:
While two of these massacres did occur in the United States, three of these top five did not.
And this chart doesn’t even include a recent “lone gunman” attack in the Philippines last year:
“Thirty-seven people have been killed in a Manila casino, following an attack in the early hours of Friday morning by a lone gunman who fired shots from an assault rifle and set fire to gambling tables.”
If you include this attack, only 2 out of the top 6 shootings would have taken place in the United States.
FACTUAL OMISSION #2 – Top 10 School Shootings
When it comes to “lone gunmen” involved in school shootings, only 4 out of the top 10 occurred in the United States up until 2012:
#10 Realengo Massacre – 2011 Brazil
The gunman was 23-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oileira a former student. He shot and killed 12 students between the ages of 12 and 14.
#9 Columbine High School Massacre – 1999 USA
They went on a shooting spree inside the school and murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher. They also injured 24 students before the two committed suicide.
#8 Winnenden School Shooting – 2009 Germany
At the school he shot and killed 9 students and 3 teachers.
#7 Montreal Massacre – 1989 Canada
Lepine killed a total of 14 woman students and 1 woman employee, he also injured 14 others in the attack.
#6 Erfurt Massacre – 2002 Germany
Steinhauser shot and killed 12 teachers, the school secretary, 2 students and a policeman.
#5 University of Texas Clock Tower Shooting – 1966 USA
The deadly shooting went on for 96 minutes, killing 14 and injuring 32.
#4 Dunblane Massacre – 1996 U.K
The individual shot and killed 16 children and 1 adult before committing suicide.
NOTE: AN UPDATED LIST WOULD INCLUDE THE RECENT FLORIDA MASSACRE HERE
#3 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting – 2012 USA
He shot 20 children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
#2 Ma’alot Massacre – 1974 Israel
In the end 25 hostages were killed and 68 injured.
#1 Virginia Tech Massacre – 2007 USA
Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 other
FACTUAL OMISSION #3 – Mass Murder: US Not in Top 10
The following table makes clear that, when it comes to mass murders, the US is 12 out of 18.
FACTUAL OMISSION #4: Recent Mass Shootings in Africa
Garcia also neglects to speak about mass shooting in Africa. We all know that the NEA supports Black Lives Matter:
So why does Garcia ignore these recent events in Africa?
“Boko Haram's 'deadliest massacre' reportedly kills 2,000 in Nigeria”
“Nigeria Boko Haram crisis: Militants 'kill 150'”
“On Sunday night, dozens of gunmen with suspected ties to notorious Islamist terror group Boko Haram murdered more than 40 university students as they slept in dormitories at an agricultural college in Yobe, northeastern Nigeria”
“It's all the legacy of September 21, 2013, when armed gunmen stormed the mall and held people here under siege for three days. The attack left 67 dead and hundreds wounded.”
FACTUAL OMISSION #5: Recent Mass Murder with Knives
“BEIJING — China suffered one of its deadliest ever acts of terror, according to authorities, when more than 10 knife-wielding men killed at least 29 people and injured over 130 in a brutal assault at a train station in southwest China's Kunming city Saturday night.”
“Knife-attack in China leaves 18 injured; 2 dead”
“Death Toll in Xinjiang Coal Mine Attack Climbs to 50 … a group of knife-wielding suspects set upon security guards at the gate of the Sogan Colliery in Aksu (in Chinese, Akesu) prefecture’s Bay (Baicheng) county, before targeting the mine owner’s residence and a dormitory for workers.”
“Japan knife attack: At least 19 dead”
“In June 2001, eight children were killed when a former janitor entered an Ikeda elementary school in Osaka and began stabbing students at random.”
“In June 2008, a man ran over a group of people with his truck and then stabbed 18, killing seven, in Tokyo's famous Akihabara gaming district.”
FACTUAL OMISSION #6: Mass Murder with Trucks
“Nice attacker posed for selfies in truck used to kill 84 people”
“Truck Attack, Apeldoorn, Netherlands, Eight people are killed and 11 others are injured. “
FACTUAL OMISSION #7: Mass Murder with Poison Gas
“The attack left 13 people dead, and more than 6,000 others suffering the effects of the nerve gas. More than 20 years later, a majority of the victims say they still have vision problems and fatigue”
FACTUAL OMISSION #8: And don't forget mass murder with bombs
This post is getting too long already - you can easily do a search for this one. Start with Oklahoma City and go from there. Thousands upon thousands have been murdered this way - especially in the Middle East.
CASE STUDY – Gun Restrictions in Britain suggest it isn't all about guns.
Newsflash for Lily Eskelsen Garcia: It might not be all about the guns. There appears to be something more going on here.
Why do we say this?
Consider two points made by Thomas Sowell in an article which appeared in The Guardian in the days after the Sandy Hook massacre. He compares gun crime in the United States with that in Britain. His conclusion is that gun control is not the central issue.
Given the fact that Britain always had a lower murder rate than the US and that armed robbery in Britain actually went up after gun restrictions were put in place in that country, clearly it’s not necessarily just about the guns …
1)“The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms. In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s – after decades of ever tightening gun ownership restrictions – there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies.”
2)“… if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries – and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.
CONCLUSION: A Good Leader Keeps an Open Mind
Guns, especially “assault rifles,” are an easy target. They look mean, they have magazines that can hold a lot of bullets, and they can shoot pretty fast.
So banning them seems the easy way out – a quick fix.
But is it the right fix?
NEA President Garcia is quick to ridicule the call for better mental health care:
“They made vague mentions of better mental health care – a cynical call since many of those same politicians are gutting those benefits from the Affordable Care Act.”
But there is increasing evidence that SSRI drugs are behind some of the mass shootings.
Guns have been a part of the United States for hundreds of years but mass shootings are a relatively recent phenomenon. SSRI drugs were introduced in the 1980s. A rational person would note a possible connection that is worth looking into.
The bottom line is that NEA President Garcia’s “outlier” is quite possibly not the guns. The right think to do is to keep an open mind.
That is what good leaders do.
So instead of blaming the gun lobby it might make more sense to blame the drug lobby.
After all, “Big Pharma” spends billions marketing their wares to consumers and physicians ($27 billion in 2012).
That pales next to what the NRA spent in the latest election cycle ($50.2 million)
Something to consider.