YOU’RE IN MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS is fairly common condolence, although for many it sounds like a platitude. Merriam-Webster defines platitude as “a banal, trite, or stale remark” while Google defines it as “a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.”
While we may assume that this expression is a true reflection of the beliefs of millions of people, we may also assume that it is a mere platitude for others. For millions of other people, this statement has gone far beyond the banal, trite, and stale and has become an offensive remark—sort of a lengthy four-letter word.
Another mass shooting followed by another round of thoughts and prayers sent to Heaven without a thing being done to prevent the need for more thoughts and prayers here on Earth.
This article was inspired by the caricatures below of Senators Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. All three are prominent politicians along with being prominent obstacles to the passage of any meaningful gun control laws in this country.
Needless to say, the individuals that I suggest we call the Thoughts and Prayers Squad are any politicians who offer endless religious-tainted platitudes instead of actually doing things that could reduce the slaughter of the innocents. This squad would include quite a few prominent members of the Rep*blican Party.
Other people have other takes on reliance on thoughts and words and the depth of feeling and belief when they are being expressed—especially by politicians. Some of those people are cartoonists. The cartoons below are a sample of the many now residing on the internet that address this topic.
More thoughts and prayers
In the article “Fox News is your HQ for post-Uvalde thoughts and prayers,” journalist Erik Wemple opined about the use of the words “thoughts and prayers” by Rep*blican politicians and talking heads (May 27, 2022):
“Another mass shooting, another round of thoughts and prayers on Fox News. Comforting words are, of course, much needed in times of tragedy . . . But the retreats to prayer, the démarches to religion, serve another purpose for Fox News and its GOP constituency—that of deflecting pressure for gun control and, more generally, shifting responsibility away from elected leaders.”
Wemple notes that Dan Patrick, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, appeared on the Tucker Carlson Tonight (May 24, 2022) where he opined:
“We’ve got to unify in prayer, we have to unify in faith. We have to unify in who are we. When I grew up—and most of the people watching grew up, and you—we didn’t have these situations, we didn’t have mass shooters in our schools, we didn’t have this evil.”
Wemple defined Carlson as a “self-described adversary of America’s ruling elites” and noted that the host “had his chance to pounce.” Wemple continued:
“Here was an elected leader, faced with a national crisis, taking refuge in religious platitudes. So Carlson pushed him to show some actual leadership, right? Uh, well: ‘When you say your prayers are with people, you seem to mean it,’ Carlson said, prefacing this request: ‘Tell us why you think it’s important to pray in a moment like this.’
Patrick then unspooled a 321-word response that included a frank distillation of post-massacre political strategy for the gun-rights crowd: ‘This was a country founded on faith, Tucker. And that’s why . . . we have to come together as a people—don’t politicize it. Don’t point fingers. We’ll figure all this out afterwards and we’ll do better, and everyone will learn from it.”
There are lots of questions being asked on Fox News in the aftermath of Uvalde, as well as solutions being offered. Media Matters for America, a nonprofit watchdog group that monitors Fox News, has stitched together a video of fifty ideas presented on that network to prevent another school massacre. None involved gun control.”
Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson.
Cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon.
Cartoon by Mike Lukovich.
Cartoon by Walt Handelsman.
The good guy with a gun to the rescue!
Here are some statistics from the article “The ‘Good Guy with a Gun’ Myth” about the effectiveness of having a gun and trying to stop a crime:
• People successfully defend themselves with guns in less than 1% of crimes in which there is contact between a perpetrator and a victim.
• An FBI analysis of 160 active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013 found that active shooter incidents were rarely stopped by armed individuals who were not law enforcement returning fire. In fact, four times as many shootings were stopped by unarmed civilians restraining the shooter.
• The gun lobby claims that shooters target “gun-free zones” because they fear a “good guy with a gun,” and that arming more people in more places will deter crime. However, most mass shooters target a specific person, group, or institution with whom they have a grievance, making it unlikely that a gun-free policy affects the choice of target.
• No credible statistical evidence exists to show that permissive concealed carry laws reduce crime. Instead, the evidence suggests that laws that make it easier for more people to carry guns in public may actually increase the frequency of some types of violent crime, including gun homicides.
And yet, for Rep*blican politicians across the country, the beat goes on.
Cartoon by Ed Wexler.
Cartoon by Dave Whamond.
Cartoon by Kevin Necessary.
Cartoon by Steve Sack.
The two squads
I coined the term “The Thoughts and Prayers Squad” intending it to be an ironic reference to the other squad of elected representatives in Washington, DC. For the past few years, the term “The Squad” had referred to a small group of Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives. It consists of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (known as A.O.C.), Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib (each elected in 2028) along with Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush (each elected in 2020).
Ocasio-Cortez, the acknowledged if unofficial leader, coined “The Squad” name a week after the 2018 election. Each member was elected while under the age of 50 and they represent the demographic diversity of a younger political generation. All six are among the most progressive politicians in DC, advocating for policies such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
The members of my proposed Thoughts and Prayers Squad are among the most reactionary politicians in DC, advocating for policies such as relaxing gun control, criminalizing abortion, and other goals of so-called “Trumpism.”
FEATURED IMAGE: The cartoon at the top of this page was created by David Rowe for The Australian Review and is titled “Thoughts and Words.” It is not about American massacres: “By early November 2019, bushfires were already costing lives and properties. Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced a fierce backlash on social media after this tweet: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been so directly and horribly impacted by these fires.’ Rowe was driving on a highway north of one of the blazes when he heard the Prime Minister on the radio. He immediately pulled over and drew this cartoon.”