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Sabika Sheikh, Cynthia and Recie Tisdale


One of the things we often hear after a mass shooting is that we shouldn't get all emotional, because gun policy should be based in reason, not emotion. Lord knows that's the cool, calm position of the NRA in its "Be ready to shoot the leftist traitors and scary people of color" ads. So we would just like to calmly and unemotionally tell you a little about just two of the many American Dreams that were shredded by gunfire last Friday at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

Sabika Sheikh was an exchange student from Pakistan, getting ready to head back home to her family in Karachi in June. The Houston Chronicle reports she wanted to be a diplomat when she grew up.

The 17-year-old dreamed of bringing cultures together and planned to devote her life to helping people understand each other. She was, her closest friend said, “the most beautiful, loving person I’ve ever met.”

Over 2,000 mourners came to her funeral Sunday at the Masjid Al-Sabireen mosque in nearby Stafford. The Chronicle notes that the crowd included "Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths," and adds,

When the mosque’s indoor spaces filled up, people shed their shoes and kneeled in the grass and on the mosque’s cement walkways, even though a steamy rain had started to fall.

Her parents will not be coming to the USA to collect her remains; instead, they'll be shipped to Pakistan for burial. See, we're just being factual about a kid who wanted to grow up and build connections between people and cultures. You don't want to cloud the debate about the easy availablity of guns with a lot of extraneous emotions.

M.J. Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, issued a direct challenge to the high school kids in the audience, urging them to follow the path of the teen survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, who have spoken out nationally for gun control.

“Don’t look at Austin and Washington to solve your problems,” he said. “You must solve your problems yourselves. Take the lead from the students in Florida. They stood up and they said, ‘No more.’”

“We just lost 10 innocent, beautiful lives,” Khan said. “We must also say, ‘No more.’”

Again, we're simply giving you a factual narrative of what the man said. It is also a fact that her host parents for the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program, Jason and Joleen Cogburn, said their daughter Jaelyn became close friends with Sabika because, after having been homeschooled up until now, this was also Jaelyn's first year at an American public high school. Sabika decorated her room with a Pakistani flag and other mementos to remind her of home.

On Mother’s Day, Sabika gave her host mother a prayer shawl handmade in her home country. Just a week later, Joleen Cogburn wore it to cover her head inside the mosque as she remembered Sabika’s life.

And now Sabika will never see her parents again, never become a diplomat, never tell her college friends in Pakistan about how the Americans she knew were welcoming and friendly, yes, even in Texas. No chance for her to convince her friends America isn't an outlaw nation where the reaction to people shooting children down in schools is always, always, a spike in sales of guns. Those are facts about just a minuscule portion of the things Sabika Sheikh will never do, because she was murdered at 17 by a guy who took his dad's guns to school because they weren't secured. The NRA bitterly opposes safe storage laws, because they infringe on freedom.

And even if Texas had such a law, you can't really regulate guns since some people break laws, so why have laws at all? It's logical.

Also killed Friday -- by a young man who may have targeted a girl who refused to date him, according to the girl's mother -- was Cynthia Tisdale, who was just days short of her 64th birthday. Her brother-in-law John Tisdale, a Baptist pastor in Pharr, Texas, said Ms. Tisdale had planned to retire and spend more time caring for her husband, Recie Tisdale, who suffers from what John says is an incurable lung disease. As it was, she was working two jobs: substitute teaching at Santa Fe High School, and also working nights at a restaurant as a server.

America is the kind of place where, if your spouse is dying, you need to work two jobs to try to cover the medical bills. And it is a fact that you might get shot while doing either of them, really. (Whether it's also a fact that more guns everywhere would result in anything more than additional carnage is more of an opinion than a fact, although the evidence from a 2014 FBI report on active shooting events doesn't seem to support the claim. It's also a fact that the NRA lobbied heavily to cut off funding for research that might end up in restrictions on guns.)

Sabika Sheikh had an entire life ahead of her. Cynthia Tisdale did, too. John Tisdale said she

is a very kindhearted person [...] She was looking forward to retiring and just being a fulltime granny or grandmother. She was really attached and close to her children and grandchildren, and that was really her life and joy.

It is a fact that it takes a while for people who've experienced a sudden loss to start using the past tense. It's also a fact that Cynthia Tisdale had 11 grandchildren she'll never see again, including one granddaughter who attended Santa Fe High, who will never again be delighted or embarrassed by coincidentally having her grandmother as a substitute teacher. Probably the former, since according to her dad, Recie Tisdale Jr., she and Cynthia often got together at school. The whole family seems to have been connected to the school; Recie Tisdale Jr. is a detective with the League City police department -- he'd been called to the school to help secure the scene, and then was asked to identify his mother's body. He said his daughter was scheduled to arrive late on the day of the shooting, and was still 10 minutes away at the time it happened.

Despite what you'll no doubt be hearing from conspiracy theorists (another unavoidable fact of mass shootings now), such coincidences aren't really all that uncommon during tragedies. That's just a fact of probability, while conspiracy theorists claiming all mass shootings are false flag incidents are a fact of the human brain's tendency to see meaningful patterns, even when there are none. It's also a fact that because there's an internet, most mass shootings are followed by fact checking articles that debunk conspiracy theories and misinformation that pop up shortly after. It's also a fact that conspiracy theorists insist such debunkings can't be trusted.

Profiles of all 10 victims, each of whose families now face innumerable changes in the facts of their lives, can be found at CNN. Please don't forget, of course that the 10 additional people who were wounded, some of them critically, will have the facts of their lives rearranged forever, some irretrievably.

One fact we'd like to point out: This doesn't happen as often in any other country. Perhaps if people voted differently, if National Rifle Association money and support became a political liability, that fact might change.

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[Houston Chronicle / McAllen Monitor / WFAA-TV / Politifact / Psychology Today / CNN / WaPo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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