Monday, October 2, 2017

Dozens Dead, Hundreds Wounded in Las Vegas, and Nothing Will Change

Let's stop kidding ourselves. We are a violent country with a love of the guns that serve our violence. We're stuck in that reality. All that's left is, from time to time, to count the dead...and move on.

Run for your life, duck and cover. A permanent reality in America? I guess so.

Early this morning I happened on Josh Marshall's take on last night's deadly shooting. The Talking Points Memo founder and editor is one of the clearest voices in American politics and culture today, and he certainly says anything I would have to say about the horror in Las Vegas.

He hits it on the head, and his sequence -- was it a Muslim, was it a black, oh-my-god it's a white man, thank goodness -- crystallizes our unique, tragic place in world culture.
If the shooter is a Muslim or even more a Muslim immigrant, the attack is “terrorism” and even more than that it becomes enrolled into the catalog of threats to justify immigrant bans, surveilling or expulsion of Muslim immigrants, various military actions in the Middle East, new wars, scraping the Iran nuclear deal.
If it’s a black man it’s only slightly less political. It’s part of the rising tide of crime (statistically slightly true though greatly exaggerated) Jeff Sessions and President Trump use to inflame racial division and reignite the drug war and 80s era policing. It’s a violent turn for the rising tide of African-American protest ranging from taking a knee to protests in Ferguson and other cities.
If it is a white man, seemingly without religious views of any particular relevance to the crime or targeting people of a particular race, it’s just … a thing that happened and not something we can do anything about. It’s original sin. A troubled, distraught person. Just a crazed individual, someone who seemed normal and then went horribly wrong. Critically, it’s an individual story, isolated and untouchable by anything we can do as a society.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: when the shooter isn’t white the violence is often ‘terrorism’ and almost always political. That tells us a lot about racism and xenophobia in America. But fundamentally these are diversions. The problem is that America is the only country which is wealthy and not roiled by endemic civil conflict or war which regularly has mass gun massacres.
Pretty much it, Josh. Read his whole piece, called "My Mass Shooting Ritual." The thing is, my thoughts proceeded in the same way: Was it a Muslim, was it a black man, thank god it was a white man. How many of you did the same thing?

Next thought: This is horrible. Next thought: Better make coffee, and get on with the day.

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