Thomas James “Tee Jay” McNichols Jr., 25, the cousin of our assistant producer Jevin Lamar, was one of the 9 people murdered Saturday in Dayton, Ohio.
Our hearts go out to Tee Jay’s family and our Jevin.
Jevin is here in the Swiss Alps with me and Leni Badpenny — he was ring-bearer at our wedding this week at her family’s chapel on Monte Laura.
Only a few hours ago, Jevin was celebrating his 25th birthday and the release of his three new hip-hop tracks for Badpenny Records.
We received the horrific call from Dayton while I was on the air on Rev. Jesse Jackson’s radio program discussing the Dayton massacre.
Jevin was very close to Tee Jay as a kid: “We played kickball all the time.” Jevin told me his family went to the club in the Oregon district because it was considered the safest place in Dayton.
But no place is safe from a loser with an assault rifle and a President who encourages pathologic resentment and applauds armed revenge.
“Tee Jay was the oldest after his brother was shot, so he took care of his mom and sisters and brothers. His mom just died, young. It seems that none of us are allowed to live a long life.”
Jevin organized the ground operation for the Dayton scenes in our film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, in which we showed the desperate economic conditions of a city destroyed by finance vultures. And Jevin located the victims of Ohio’s systematically racist voter purges.
Most of the killings involved angry young white men, kids without a future. The Gilroy killer was as angry about working people shoved aside by privileged yuppies as he was against immigrants. The shooter wrote before the killings: “Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats?”
What Trump and a thousand other politicians have done so well is to distract hopeless, young white men by making Black people the targets of their rage — instead of the white wealthy monsters who stole the future of Dayton and America’s other dead-end Daytons.
I am writing from Switzerland where almost every home has a gun, mountain people like my in-laws usually have a dozen for hunting, and most homes are required have their Army-issued automatic weapon by law.
The Swiss, just like Americans, have their family disputes and alcoholism and crazy people. Switzerland has a huge new immigration population, mostly Muslim, that is, proportionately several times the US migrant influx. The Swiss have serious religious, language and ethnic divisions (Germans hate Italians and everyone hates the French) — yet only 3 “mass” shootings in 100 years.
Why? The answer comes back to the same issue: every Swiss is guaranteed a job, and training for a job, at their full potential, and all are well-paid. There are no losers with nothing to lose.
Eight years ago, in Vultures’ Picnic, I fantasized about marrying Badpenny here in the Alps. But even in my daydreams, the shadows of my investigations intrude:
It’s impossible for me to forget that deep underneath all our wedding cakes, BP still pumps satanic chemicals into the aquifers; a donkey-headed blogger is going mad in Baba’s jail cell; the VLCC Raven, loaded by industrial vampires sucking at Mama Nature, still plies Arctic waters. And Chief Criollo’s son won’t ever come back…
…and damaged Dayton, neo-Nazis and a President who blesses them is calling me to return from my personal fairy-tale.
This will be a sad way to return to America. In fact, we wouldn’t — if there wasn’t so much work to do.
Again, our condolences to Tee Jay’s family, especially our Jevin.
UPDATED & CORRECTED: 4.56AM PST, MONDAY, AUG 5, 2019
Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman
Support The Palast Investigative Fund and keep our work alive.
Become a monthly Contributor.
Or support us by shopping with Amazon Smile. AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your purchases to the Sustainable Markets Foundation which automatically goes to the benefit of The Palast Investigative Fund and you get a tax-deduction! More info .
Subscribe to Palast's Newsletter or his special list for Poems & Stories.