The recent shootings and murders in Buffalo have affected me to my core.
I was born and raised in Buffalo, and I know the neighborhood and the supermarket chain where the murders happened. I used to shop at one of the Tops supermarkets in my neighborhood when I lived in Buffalo up until 1996 when I moved to Asheville.
I have been angered by past shootings when the response was often met with “thoughts and prayers” but with little action. It appeared that most members of the Democratic party were willing to take some action, but Republicans were steadfast in their opposition based on the belief in “gun rights” over common sense laws to protect the public. From a federal government response, there has been insufficient bipartisanship to make something significant happen.
For those of us who were looking at what we could do individually or collectively, the options seemed limited as well, but there were and still are opportunities. I have decided on several actions that I plan to take or will continue to take. These may seem futile to some, but I am committed to addressing the issues at the heart of gun violence and hate. I hope others will find ways that they can do something comparable to address these two issues, as well as the misinformation that has seeped into our culture.
There have been calls to rein in social media to address the fear and hate that is spewed through posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. Without action from those who can regulate those entities - again, the need for a federal response, it may be hard to have an impact in that arena.
However, there are other media - the right-wing media led in particular by Fox “News” - where the personalities have helped to create an atmosphere of fear and hate by spewing lies and misinformation. Those media rely on advertising to survive, and, unfortunately, hate and fear sells. Two actions I plan to take are noted here:
I want to find out who advertises on those networks, particularly for the personalities that have been leading these efforts - Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham to name a few - and call on those companies to stop their advertising for these programs. There are groups out there that have done some of the homework already that will make it easier for me to learn who those advertisers are.
I have Spectrum cable, and I plan to contact that company and ask how the Fox “News” channel can be removed from my subscription. While that cable company might say that is not possible as part of the subscription I pay for, I will research how others have taken similar action with other cable companies. I will at least share my concern with my cable company so that my voice is heard along with others who may have the same concern.
Additionally, and just as important, I will continue to vote. One of my priorities will be to look at issues like racial injustice and gun violence, as well as those who perpetuate lies and distortions like the “great replacement” conspiracy theory and reject those candidates who don’t take a stand against such hate, fear and misinformation.
I am an unaffiliated voter, and I have previously chosen candidates based on what each values and what issues each candidate will support and oppose. In the past, there were candidates in both political parties who were committed to working together for the good of the country. Unfortunately, that balance seems to have changed, where many of the members of one political party - the Republican party - are now mostly focused on fear and hate and staying in power. The response by its leadership to not reject this position is a failure of that leadership. I’m hoping that my actions and that of others will be a step in bringing back two political parties that offer possible solutions and stand up for the values of respect and integrity.
We have gone through similar challenges like this before, and the country has overcome those obstacles. We cannot stand by and allow this to continue. This is a call to action that I will answer. I feel fortunate that in the United States I still have that ability to do so. I refuse to let fear and hate win!
Ron Katz is a retired nonprofit professional who lives in Western North Carolina.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Opinion: My ways to take action against gun violence, hate