Yet another mass killing, this time -- they say -- with the largest number of casualties of any single incident of mass murder in the nation's history.
Well, actually, no. If we're measuring massacre casualties accurately, we have to go way back into American history and start with the New England immigrants, Pilgrims they were, who came here and started killing right off the bat. If we want to go back further, we need to go back to the Spanish adventurers in the Southwest who killed Natives with abandon -- though many of their accounts may be false.
It was not unusual for hundreds -- even in one case, thousands -- of Natives to be killed at one go. So no, the Orlando Massacre is by no means the largest number of mass-murder casualties in the nation's or its colonial history. Not even close. Some are beginning to say that it is the largest mass murder toll since Wounded Knee, but even that might not be accurate.
Still, it's a shocking and terrible thing and deeply traumatic to Orlando and the gay community. It has shaken the Hispanic community as well since almost all the casualties were Latin men, it being Latin Night at the venue.
Ultimately, this mass killing has shaken the nation, but... well, there have been so many of these incidents over the years, so very many mass shootings at various sites -- schools, shopping centers, movie theatres, churches, bars and clubs, etc., etc. It's an American tradition by now.
The victims of these incidents are almost always ordinary folk, people going about their ordinary business or recreation, bothering no one, at least not intentionally. The routine is that some "lone wolf" with issues targets a particular site where random people gather and starts shooting more or less randomly until the shooter is dispatched by the overwhelming firepower of authorities -- or surrenders or escapes to be captured later.
What never happens in these incidents is that the High and the Mighty are targeted and slaughtered one by one and in batches. Never.
The targets are always perfectly ordinary people doing perfectly ordinary things with others of their kind.
The pattern is almost always the same: the shooter with his weapons and ammunition goes to a site where he knows people will gather, he makes his way in with little or no difficulty, he sets himself up and starts shooting while watching his targets panic and cower or run in fear. He kills and wounds however many he can before police or others intervene. He may or may not be killed on the spot, with or without a gunfight. But shooter does essentially the same things no matter when or where the incident takes place. No matter the motivation.
This is the exact pattern followed in nearly every mass murder incident in the nation's recent history. I'm so old, I remember what's considered to be the first of these incidents, at the University of Texas in 1966. It was a shocking and appalling incident, unprecedented, bloody and awful. It was considered an aberration at the time, a gross anomaly, but it set the pattern that nearly all incidents of the type have followed ever since.
And so it was in Orlando.
So it was in San Bernardino, too.
Despite the fact that these two recent incidents are widely considered to be Islamist "terrorist" incidents, they follow the precise pattern of mass killings that has become the tradition in the USofA.
There's long been a suspicion that these incidents are not really random. The pattern is too similar, the victims too ordinary, the chosen sites too commonplace, the response too nearly identical. (More thoughts and prayers, please.) Most obviously, these incidents induce panic and fear in general population.
In addition, these incidents all depend on ease of access to firearms. Our political class absolutely refuses to restrict access to firearms, citing the Sacred Second -- the only provision in the Bill of t that politicians and their sponsors seem to recognize and care about.
Panic and fear. More panic and fear. Futile calls for gun control. Official disinterest. More gun sales. And still more panic and fear as there is no place safe from the lone wolf killers seeded among us. No place at all.
Except that if you are rich enough or important enough, you will never be a victim of one of these lone wolf killers seeded among us. Nope, not a chance.
Isn't that interesting?
However, Gabby Giffords, an elected member of Congress was a victim -- who survived a mass shooting in Arizona. Interestingly, after she was shot, the usual calls for gun control were issued, and Congress in its wisdom and majesty refused to do anything. Not their problem. Even though one of their own was a victim. It didn't matter. Too bad so sad. Tough luck, Gabby. At least she survived.
What's going on? Why is it impossible to do anything to control access to the weapons that make these incidents possible? Not just possible but certain?
The lack of action is often blamed on the NRA and its lobbying prowess. That's a traditional response. It's their fault. Blame it on the boogy-man.
But what happens is that Congress and state legislatures and local authorities refuse to act. They cite the constitution and court decisions which they claim prevent them from acting, but those excuses fall flat. The simplest explanation is that they are satisfied with the way things are even if, from time to time, one of their own is shot by a mass murderer. They gain some kind of benefit from keeping the Rabble endlessly fearful of attackers. It's almost as if they believe the survival of the Nation depends on keeping the masses constantly fearful and filled with dread.
The fact that some of the international terror groups like to congratulate the killers or take responsibility for encouraging them should be a red flag. There's something very odd going on. The Powers That Be seem pleased enough, as whatever is going on doesn't affect them directly at all. But it does help keep the riff-raff in line.
I have no way to know what the motivation of the Orlando killer was. Speculation has focused on some mental issues (possibly untreated bipolar disorder) and inchoate rage at gay men. That may be. I don't know. His supposed ISIS affiliation would be interesting if true, but there's no sign yet that it is (though it will be flogged forever). The fact that he was able to get into the club with his weapons and ammunition, past a fully armed and uniformed off-duty cop who was working security for the club, is evocative of something, but I don't know what. From reports, he started shooting soon after he entered the club, he shot and killed or wounded over 100 patrons, and then he retreated to a restroom where he barricaded himself with a number of hostages and started making phone calls. He was in contact with police for hours. During that time, there was no help for the wounded. How many bled out while the shooter was barricaded in the restroom is anybody's guess. But it was probably a significant number.
Eventually, the police forced an opening in the wall of the restroom where the killer was barricaded. According to reports, the hostages then escaped, and the killer emerged. There was, they say, a shootout and the killer was killed. End of story.
But was at 5am after a long and grisly night. It's right to ask how many of those who died were victims of friendly fire or neglect. And was there really a shoot out? Who can say and will we ever know for sure?
These mysteries and many more will compound over time. An official story will be promulgated and we will go on. Till the next time, and the next and the next and the next.
The massacres will continue until morale improves...