Since it’s corporations through tools like Citizens United that control the political agenda in the United States, that’s clearly where we need to turn for solutions to the mass-shooting epidemic that’s gripped the country really since Columbine in 1999. I’m starting with Walmart.
Today is the first day of my post-Walmart existence. I will do whatever it takes to avoid going to the Walmart Supercenter in Avon – not just because it’s an unpleasant place to shop – but because it’s simultaneously one of the nation’s top gun retailers and a target for anti-immigrant white nationalists emboldened by our racist Divider in Chief, President Donald Trump.
By demonizing the very immigrants who are vital to making our economy hum, people Trump has used without documentation at his own golf resorts, the president has invited radicalized white supremacists to attack our Latino neighbors around the country. Trump has settled on this approach as the only way he can win re-election, despite personally benefiting from their labor.
Walmart needs to not only stop selling guns to get my business back, but the nation’s largest retailer needs to advocate for common-sense gun safety legislation immediately and repudiate Trump’s hateful campaign platform that started with that Trump Tower escalator ride in 2015 and now overtly targets the very people who make up such a huge share of Walmart’s clientele.
I’ve spoken to wealthy white people in the Vail Valley – people who voted for Trump – who already avoid Walmart. They do so not to reject the retailer’s hypocrisy on the gun issue or support of Trump’s tax-slashing, deregulating, pro-corporate, Supreme Court-stacking agenda, but because “it’s full of Mexicans who don’t speak English.”
These are people who don’t necessarily think of themselves as racist and are happy to eat food prepared by Mexican immigrants at local restaurants, utilize their skills as landscapers, construction workers and cleaning crews, and generally reap the benefits of a tourism economy based on relatively inexpensive immigrant labor. But at the same time, they support Trump.
They are unable, or unwilling, to draw a straight line between Trump’s hypocritical and self-serving racism and the violence being visited on people of color around the nation. Increasingly, that violence has found a soft target in Walmart, where in 2017 a white man shot and killed three Hispanic people in Thornton near Denver. And, of course, more recently in the border town of El Paso.
These unwitting racists – unable to see their own blatant hypocrisy – also are generally economically able to avoid Walmart, which has been the ruination of many a local mom-and-pop retailer. For that reason alone, I should have avoided the place years ago, but it was always so easy to just fly by and get a significantly cheaper bag of dog food or case of sports drinks.
No more. I’ll give my money to grocers who don’t help flood our streets with guns. And I’m not going back until Walmart not only stops double-dealing in death but also pushes back hard against Trump’s hate-mongering and anti-immigrant hypocrisy. That includes backing universal background checks, a national red-flag law and a total ban on military-style semi-auto assault weapons. To varying degrees, these proposals even have support from Trump and the GOP.
One would have thought the slaughter of first-graders in Connecticut in 2012 would have prompted some of these proposals to at least be debated by Congress, but lawmakers continue to back the embattled National Rifle Association. It’s time to not only reject the NRA’s corporate-supported agenda, but also pass a domestic terrorism law with real teeth and the symbolic effect of rejecting Trump’s white nationalist agenda.
In the meantime, I’ll see you at virtually any store other than Walmart.