Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mass Murder is More American Than Apple Pie

As we once again slouch toward Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Day against the background of mass murder in Las Vegas, it's easy to see that the perpetual "gun debate" is stalled where it has been for decades: "Nothing can be done, nothing should be done, occasional mass murder is the 'price of liberty,' now is not the time to discuss these issues."

Yes, well. We've been round and round this mulberry bush so many times. More than 1,500 incidents of mass murder since Sandy Hook, and to the extent there's been any legislative action at all, it has been to loosen restrictions on access to firearms. Something is haywire.

I'm watching a "debate" right now between two congressmen (both military vets, 38 years old)  on the issue of "gun control" and it is the same sterile garbage we've been hearing for years -- "can't" "should", "conversation," "emotion," "automatic weapons," "confiscation," "reasonable," "common sense," on and on, round and round, "tyranny!"


Here's (part of) the problem: The American experience is founded on repeated episodes of mass murder, beginning with Columbus and continuing to this day. There has never been an end to it.

The "well-regulated militia" referenced in the Sacred Second is about having the ability to threaten and commit mass murder to supposedly protect the nascent "free state." From what?

Slave rebellions, worker strikes and rebellions, Indian uprisings, etc. That's what the militia was for and to an extent still is. The National Guard is the current iteration of the militia of the post-revolution era. The National Guard is a largely reactive and protective force that tends to serve the interests of the political and financial elites -- which can but don't necessarily involve putting down slave revolts and Indian uprisings. The ad-hoc militias -- mostly white males, mostly right-wing -- on the other hand, are much more zealous about who is in charge and why, and who will be targeted by said militias.

Black people, brown people, poor people, homeless people. You know the kind. "Threats" to the "free state." Of white men doing what they want.

That's the foundation of all of this, and until Americans clarify that in their own minds, nothing can be or will be done about mass murder and gun violence in this country.

I mentioned on another site that a possible way to break the log jam over "gun rights" is to engage in a persistent campaign to end the acceptance of and glamorization of gun violence and mass murder in this country.

The idea is to use some of the tactics successfully employed by anti-tobacco and anti-drunk driving activists not so very long ago.

Very powerful and wealthy interests opposed both campaigns, but their opposition ultimately failed. Indeed, many opponents ultimately joined the campaigns to reduce drunk driving and tobacco use.

It can be done.

These were largely social campaigns -- though legislation was part of it. Acceptance of drunk driving deaths and injuries and deaths and injuries from tobacco use was specifically targeted for social (and political) opprobrium. It took some time and quite a bit of money and grassroots activism, but... It worked.

Using similar (Bernaysian, public relations) tactics against gun violence and mass murder could have a similar effect.

I was surprised and pleased to see Mark Shields make the same point on NewsHour last night. There isn't a movement yet, but there could be.

A key is to fear not.

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