About Me

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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

An Act of Cowardice

An Open Letter to Every Senator who Voted Against Background Checks:

I write to you with a heart aggrieved by your shameful decision this week to vote against the implementation of universal background checks for firearms’ transactions. This was a bill designed to close loopholes exploited by criminals and the mentally ill to purchase firearms to which they have no legal right at gun shows and over the Internet. It was also a bill that, contrary to the claims made falsely against it, did not infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of American citizens; indeed, little more than a decade ago, its provisions were openly supported by the National Rifle Association. It was a bill with overwhelming popular support (not to mention the support of a majority of your fellow senators), which you callously ignored because you were cowed and frightened by the shameless voices of mendacious bullies. This week, you perverted democracy.

The pettiness of political games, however, is not what grieves me most. Your greatest failure this week was one of virtue. You chose expediency over the common good. You chose to protect your own power rather than to protect the needs of our country. You chose to reward criminals with their illegal guns rather than to give comfort to the innocent who will die at their hands.

When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, one of his followers drew his sword to defend him. Our Lord rebuked that man, saying, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). You voted this week to keep the gun in hand rather than to lay it down.

Our Lord preached openly the way of peace and humility, rather than that of violence and raging pride. You complain that the bill you voted against would have infringed the rights of gun owners—but I ask you, where is the Lord’s command, and where are the lives of the innocent? Not eye for an eye, he said, but, “Do not resist an evildoer. If anyone should strike you on the right cheek, turn the other also. Love your enemies and pray for them, and love one another as I have loved you” (Matthew 5:38-44 and John 15:12). Pray and love, my dear Senators, not shoot. In his very actions, Jesus offered us a continual example of the greatest of virtues, of love that suffers and endures all things but never seeks to harm another. When the Romans sought to persecute and even to kill his earliest followers, those Christians did not take up arms or engage in violence, but, following the evangelical commands and imitating Christ rather than the world, they submitted themselves even to death with humility and joy.

But you seem this week to have forgotten the evangelical virtue of patient love of neighbor and chosen instead the craven vice of serving yourself. You have forgotten your vocation to be citizens of the eternal City of God, choosing instead to act according to your citizenship in the worldly city, beholden as you are to its petty and perverse contests of mortal power and sin. You had the opportunity to act on behalf of peace, but instead, you allowed the political threats of the NRA to cow you into silence.

I pray that our Lord will have mercy on you when you come before him in judgment, to answer for those innocents who will die because you did nothing to keep guns out of the hands of their persecutors. But if you are not swayed by the evangelical charge of heaven and the precious price of Christ’s blood, poured out to save you and all your fellow men, then perhaps you can be bought by the cheaper currency of worldly affairs: so long as you offer protection to violence but not to peace, you shall never have my vote in any future election for any office of this land.


        Nathaniel M. Campbell

1 comment:

PRKpirate said...

Those bills were solutions looking for a problem. The job of Congress should be to fix existing problems, not problems as their propaganda machines imagine them. You're in a college; do some research. Most criminals don't acquire their guns through face to face transactions with people they don't know. They buy stolen guns from known channels or they buy guns via straw purchase. Dealing in stolen goods and making straw purchases are both already illegal. Concerning the mentally unstable, the existing NICS checks have holes which prevent quickly incorporating the names of mental health patients who are potentially dangerous. This bill didn't even cover that as Grassley's bill did. When the people that sponsor the bill say "it wouldn't have stopped a sandy hook from happening," then it would be a useless law; therefore it should never become a law. Where I am from, lying is wrong. The people who told you this bill would somehow help curb criminal violence lied to you.
The funniest moment, to me, in the Senate hearings was when the Police Chief of Milwaukee admitted that he didn't have time to 'paper chase' those documented criminals who fail NICS background checks in his jurisdiction. So, if the star witness for the new law admits that he wasn't following up to stop criminals who failed the NICS check from gaining weapons, then how could we imagine that this bill-become-law would be effective at changing anything? All the good intentions heaped at the feet of the world don't make the world one whit better. For a third way, there's this:

Sorry, you hit a nerve; nothing ticks me off more than sloppy thinking. Nice site. Keep up the good work