So, that’s what it took, eh? To finally drag gun control back onto the agenda from which it has so long been excluded, white, elementary-school children in a prosperous, (upper) middle-class New England neighborhood had to be slaughtered. Apparently, the teenagers of Columbine, the college-age kids of Virginia Tech, and the victims of the 180-odd similar atrocities since Columbine weren’t dead enough.1 The routine gun violence in urban black neighborhoods never even registered on the radar screen. (Those victims were not simply not dead enough; they weren’t even alive enough to merit any attention.) The near-fatal shooting of a member of Congress and the murder of several spectators did little more than drive the final nail into Sarah Palin’s political coffin. (That should have been food for thought for every preening Representative who faithfully voted the NRA line: if even your special life is not important enough to derail the death machine, why are you enabling it?) But this little episode in Newtown has us all teary-eyed and indignant, flying flags at half-staff in public parks. Why, the country is so steamed up that Congress might actually pass a symbolic statute to make everyone feel as if something good came from the evil.2 Has the tipping point finally been reached? Have enough Americans had enough? Does the country have the courage to tell the NRA what it so richly deserves to be told; namely, from our warm, beating hearts – go to hell?
I seriously doubt it. And I say that not just because so much innocent American blood has already been spilled with no consequence for the death industry; not just because the gun nuts’ warped interpretation of the Second Amendment has permanently infected so many feeble minds; not just because so many American “men” have such deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy that they cling to obvious phallic symbols to empower themselves. I say it because there is a mental health crisis in the United States of America. And by this I mean not the crisis of deranged individuals like Adam Lanza going without diagnosis or treatment. (No mental-health system can ever catch everyone, and we would not want to live in a society that watched everyone closely enough to catch every “deviation” from some prescribed norm.) No, the crisis of which I speak is far larger in scope and far more profound in its malevolence.
Tracing the Headwaters of the River of Blood
When our bullshitter-in-chief dared to show his face at the Newtown memorial service, and proceeded to recite a list of the names of the dead children, most of the nation was blissfully unaware of the monstrous hypocrisy on display to the world. For this is a man who kills innocent children on a daily basis. And he doesn’t just kill children: he jokes about it. At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2010, the child-killer spotted the Jonas Brothers in the audience and uttered the following words, which were greeted with revolting, sycophantic laughter by the audience of imperial courtiers:
Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.
No, indeed, Mr. President, they won’t. Just like your victims in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia – wherever you choose to assert your “right” to kill anyone that you “think” might pose a problem to the empire – they won’t see it coming. They could be tending their goat herds near the village. They could be having an evening meal with their family. And just like the dead children of Newtown, whose lives received painstaking biographical attention in the national press, they had favorite pastimes, friends, and dreams. They were children, too.
But where is the memorial service for those children, Mr. President? Why don’t you read out their names? Is it because they aren’t American children? Is it because they aren’t Christian children? Is it because they’re not white? Or is it simply because the vast majority of Americans – who either voted for you or your even-more despicable opponent – don’t give a damn about those children?
The caption on the above image is out-of-date but irrelevant. You don’t remember seeing that in the Leesburg Daily Commercial, do you? You didn’t see it on ABC News, either. Diane Sawyer didn’t tell you, in her patented, nauseating, phony, solicitous tones that she would do everything she could to make sure something so terrible never happened again, did she? And if she had done, she would have been rebuked as a bleeding-heart liberal who hated America. So here’s a newsflash for all you star-spangled wankers out there: it’s not un-American to despise murder; it’s un-American to commit murder.
When an entire society fails to decry the murders that are committed in its name, we have a national mental health crisis. And with all due respect to Mike Huckabee, reintroducing prayer into public schools isn’t going to solve that crisis any more than it will prevent the Adam Lanza’s of this world from availing themselves of their glorious Second Amendment right to wield assault weapons. The entire country is only selectively aware of death.
Thus, the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a direct result of Bill Clinton’s sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s country were not mourned with tears from high officials. On the contrary, their deaths were deemed to be worthwhile. When the United States returned to Iraq to kill more people – we don’t bother keeping a count of how many; we just count our own – private equity firms did not divest themselves of their holdings of death industry stock. Nobody had a problem with the killing of brown people in Asia. They might as well have been Thanksgiving turkeys, whose annual slaughter is but a fraction of the ten billion sentient creatures killed each year in American industrialized “agriculture.” Blood, it seems, is only real when it flows from the veins of nice little white children who live behind white picket fences. If you kill them, we’ll get upset. But not too much, you understand – not enough to actually change anything.
For the United States is the most fabulous nation on earth. Everything about it is wonderful, God-given, and perfect. You don’t mess with perfect.
- To borrow a phrase, used in a related context, from Chris Floyd. ↩
- Cal Thomas’s cowardly response to the Newtown massacre was to chalk it off as yet another manifestation of the evil that resides within us all. While it was refreshing to see him rediscover the meaning of conservatism, his feeble point was ably rebutted by Martin Schram, whose op-ed noted that China’s equivalent to Adam Lanza was not able to inflict nearly as much damage, being restricted to a knife instead of an AR-15. ↩