Anniversary of George Floyd death linked to Texas school shooting by CNN op-ed praising Beto O’Rourke

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An CNN op-ed published Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death by praising “progressive White” men as “courageous models,” citing the actions of a number of “high profile White men” following the shooting at an Uvalde, Texas elementary school earlier this week.

In the piece, liberal university professor Peniel Joseph celebrated Texas Democrat gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke’s heavily scrutinized outburst at a press conference intended to update the public on the investigation of the shooting, as well as calls from NBA coach Steve Kerr and actor Matthew McConaughey calling for tighter gun restrictions.

Joseph also claimed it was “striking” and “significant” that the “loudest” voices speaking out were from White men, considering, according to him, White people tend to side against non-White people when it comes to political issues.

“The massacre in Uvalde coincided, almost to the day, with the second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Two years later it is worth questioning: how much has really changed?” Joseph wrote.


A George Floyd mural in Minneapolis, Minn. 

“That’s a question without a satisfying answer. But as so many in America grieve and grapple with their anger, it’s striking that a chorus of White men are among the loudest and most visible voices exposing the fundamental crisis of American democracy, for all the world to see,” he added.

Joseph claimed there was “something particularly significant” about O’Rourke, Kerr and McConaughey, “high-profile White men,” speaking out about the political crises that, he argued, allowed the shooting in Uvalde to happen.

“So much of contemporary American politics seems to pit people of color on one side and a declining White majority on the other,” he wrote. 

“And yet Steve Kerr, Matthew McConaughey and Beto O’Rourke all serve as courageous models for a progressive White male identity that challenges systems of oppression, speaks truth to power and confronts the divisions of our current moment by publicly highlighting the gap between the nation’s professed values and a more bitter reality that allows nineteen children to be killed in such grotesque fashion,” he added.

Kerr became emotional following the shooting while speaking to reporters ahead of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, and called on lawmakers to “do something” to prevent future gun violence. 

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Abbott for governor this year, interrupts a news conference headed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Uvalde, Texas Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

McConaughey, who was born in Uvalde, said Americans need to “rearrange” their “values,” and that action needs to be taken to prevent more parents from experiencing the loss of a child due to gun violence.

O’Rourke interrupted a press conference Wednesday that was headed by his opponent, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, by walking up to the stage on which it was being held and aggressively pointing as he, often inaudibly, yelled at the latter over the shooting.

“Kerr, McConaughey and O’Rourke are all trying to direct Americans’ attention toward the way in which our nation’s democratic atrophy is costing the lives of our people, including children, our most very precious resource,” Joseph wrote. 

He went on to rail against the National Rifle Association’s influence in politics, but argued the issue was about “much more than guns.”

“The normalization of mass shootings and horrific violence is unfolding amid growing authoritarian, racist, anti-democratic and oligarchical tendencies that are harming America’s identity as the world’s leading democracy,” he wrote. 


Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr gestures toward players during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks in San Francisco, Friday, May 20, 2022.
(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)


Joseph claimed violence against minorities, legislation restricting abortions, as well as “voting rights,” backlash against teaching of race related subjects in schools, and resistance to immigration were forms of “political violence that has horribly weakened our country.”

“The same party that is advocating placing control of women’s bodies in the hands of local and state governments decries any such restrictions on the rights of citizens to own, operate and utilize weapons of war,” he claimed.

“This is the death of democracy via a thousand cuts,” he added.

Joseph then cited the two-year anniversary of Floyd’s death in calling for action to be taken to address the issue of gun violence.

“Two years after a painful moment of reckoning that seemed to promise the hope of democratic renewal for a nation scarred by a pandemic, massive economic crisis and racial divisions, we have regressed into familiar quarrels, recriminations and bad-faith arguments about our current crisis,” he said. 

Former U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.   (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)


“We are long past the time for eloquent words and need to focus on deeds that might, in some small way, offer a measure of peace for the families of these lost children and offer a future where tragedies such as Uvalde are indeed unthinkable,” he added.

Former President Obama also attempted to link the Uvalde school shooting to the two-year anniversary of Floyd’s death, tweeting Wednesday that those grieving over the murdered children should  “take time” to remember Floyd.

He was sharply rebuked by critics following the tweet.