Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Arizona shooting

Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me).

with 4 comments

I’m sure almost every English speaking person heard that in their childhood, a mantra someone uses when someone has called them names. Of course if it was actually true, there would be no need to say so, the mere fact that such idioms exist is proof positive that words can most definitely hurt. Words can hurt, for good or for ill, they are one of the most powerful tools humans have for affecting how other people think and feel. Leaders don’t inspire crowds by drawing pictures or doing dances, most of the time they use words.

So I’ve been a little peeved at the amazing circumlocutions I am hearing from the right how the violent eliminationist rhetoric used by so many influential  figures on the right is somehow irrelevant when someone actually acts out that violence. Yes, the Arizona shooter is a nut, no doubt about that, but since Obama got elected there have been half a dozen other nuts who also went out and shot people acting out right wing ideals, from shooting policemen out of fear of gun confiscation, to actual targeting liberals such as the fellow who shot up the Unitarian church. Granted this is a very small number of cases, but still, there is a pattern here. More on point, these shootings didn’t take place when Bush was in office, they took place after the whole Tea Party movement started and the rhetoric (not to mention actual guns) at political events reached new heights.

Do I think this is  a major problem? Not yet, though it’s a major problem for those whose lives have been affected by this sort of violence. The fact that so many on the right are in complete denial about this though, that’s a problem. Let’s look at this. The right is constantly making the claim that liberal media and liberal educators are poisoning people’s minds. Some have even gone so far as to create Conservapedia, to counteract the alleged liberal bias of Wikipedia.  So let’s see, all this liberal bias in the media is poisoning people’s minds … but all the vitriol, hate speech, and violent eliminationist rhetoric coming from talking heads on the right has no influence on people? While breathtaking hypocrisy is stock-in-trade for American politics, simultaneously ranting about the liberal media  while denying that violent right wing rhetoric has any influence is about as hypocritical as it gets.

Moving right along in my random revisiting of the Arizona shooting, once again we have an incident that has been blown all out of proportion by the press and the politicians. President Obama even gave a speech at the memorial service. It was a stirring and inspiring speech by most accounts, but I’ve heard stirring speeches before and unless they are followed by action, I’m underwhelmed. It’s not like any effective gun control is possible in the USA, the conservatives have pretty much won that battle. And it’s not like people like the shooter are going to get more mental health resources available to them, again, the conservatives have worked hard to prevent spending on public health. Yes, I am not so subtly implying that aside from  violent rhetoric, other conservative policies also contributed to this shooting.

Granted both sides used this incident  to score political points. And I seriously doubt it will result in any changes in American politics one way tother. It’s just the story of the day. And despite the nonstop coverage in our so called Free Press, little of substance will be said. The Americans dying in our foreign wars for example, how much press do they get? And as a perceptive commenter pointed out on my last post, we are committing massacres like the Arizona shooting on almost a daily basis in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And this was a war the USA chose, the Taliban and the Pakistani tribesmen are only fighting back, we attacked them. This too isn’t likely to change any time soon, but like the endless conservative violent rhetoric, it’s going to come back and bite us in the ass again sooner or later.

Do we really want to inspire and incite another Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden? Sometimes I wonder.

(The above image is a funeral after a drone strike in Afghanistan. It’s claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit: NY Times. Pretty good bet many or most of those people don’t look too kindly on the people who killed their friends and relatives. Why are we fighting these people again? When is Obama going to give a speech explaining that? And in a final macabre note, on top of my Internet and computer problems, I tried to saw off my thumb on Monday. No, not on purpose. So that too is going to limit my on line and writing time, sigh.)




Written by unitedcats

January 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm


with 8 comments

Nearly ten years after 9/11, and ten years of staggering spending on security,  ever expanding powers of government search and surveillance, terror alerts and terror warnings, ever more humiliating and intrusive searches to go on a  plane  (and coming soon searches in buses, malls, and train stations,) … and a terrorist was able to simple walk up to a completely unprotected congresswoman in a crowd and open fire? What the hell is going on here? Where the hell was Homeland Security?

To put it mildly, I have some serious questions about this tragedy, questions every American should be demanding answers too.  This is exactly the sort of terrorist attack our government has been endlessly warning us about for a decade, and the government did exactly nothing to prevent it. There wasn’t even a local cop on hand, let alone the Secret Service or one of Janet Napolitano’s agents. Isn’t preventing terrorist attacks on congressmen and women a high priority? If Homeland security isn’t even trying to protect members of Congress, what the hell have they been doing with all that money for the past decade?

If the USA had any real press, these questions would be a major part of this story. And if the USA had real leadership, Janet Napolitano would have already resigned in disgrace. Hell, in countries with real leadership half a dozen careers would have ended before the good congresswoman’s ambulance even made it to the hospital … and the president would be on live TV taking responsibility for the mind-numbing lapse in security that allowed this to happen. And lastly, if the country had any real Americans, they would be in the streets demanding answers to the questions this appalling crime raises. Sadly, America no longer has a free press, our government is incompetent and corrupt and completely subservient to big business, and the American population has largely been reduced to little more than junk food chewing cows.

I’m rather upset about this shooting, does it show? Mostly because it illustrates what a corrupt farce the whole “Homeland Security” concept is, we have wasted endless sums of money on a problem that can never be completely eliminated, while our country’s infrastructure, schools, and health care systems continue to decay … and in the case of health care, continue to become less available and more expensive to the average American.

For the reader with any imagination, try to imagine if the shooter had been a, gasp, Muslim. We’d be bombing Tehran as I speak and rounding up millions of Muslim Americans. Well, maybe it wouldn’t be quite that bad, maybe, but it would certainly generate a huge and hysterical outcry by the media, the government, and all who stand to profit from our state of permanent war. The shooting wasn’t by a Muslim though, so all we are going to see is political hand wringing and finger pointing. The Dems immediately attacked the right for its “violent rhetoric,” as if their voting record on violence was any different the past few decades. War and violence are the norm for our culture, though we prefer to inflict it on faraway lands.

There was a time when America’s youth embraced peace and nonviolence, and we’ve spent decades since deriding the hippies for their supposed failings. Now America’s youth embrace confrontation and violence as the solution to our nation’s problems, and this type of shooting is the price we pay for it.  And our country has some terrible problems, and in unhappy times more and more people are pushed over the edge. I fear these were the first shots in a period of increasing political violence in the USA.

I hope I’m wrong.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is arguably an historically  important image. Credit/copyright: James Palka/AP. It’s one of the victims being treated by paramedics in the aftermath of the shooting. God rest the souls of those who died in this tragedy, peace and healing to their friends and families.)



Written by unitedcats

January 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm