From My Cold Dead Hand Part 1.5
Critiques of American culture (guns and otherwise) on the tail of recent happenings...
(something I wrote the day after the Tucson shootings...)
In the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford I thought now to be an appropriate time to follow up on a post that I did awhile ago. This is in turn was from a post Malcolm did previously (I see he's already responded to the shooting) in which my comments do far more to stake out my position than any these posts ever could (the fact is that I'm always more collected in comments, responding than trying to craft an original post).
The story is obviously only half sketched at this point but so far it seems that six people are dead, twelve are wounded. One of the dead was a nine year old child. Representative Gifford is in critical condition etc. etc. The elephant in the room of course is the charged political climate and the seating of Tea Party backed politicians who have polarized the political atmosphere almost beyond belief. Perhaps that's an overstatement because I doubt anyone felt that something like this would happen. I have no doubt that whatever the shooter's political leanings he is a wing nut. But regardless of that, there can be no question of two things, one that the Tea Party folks are circling the wagons right now in order to deflect the already incoming political arrows and that two, politics crossed a Rubicon with the 2008 election.
From when an audience member asked McCain, "how do we beat that bitch?" (in reference to Hillary Clinton) to which he replied, "good question". The vitriol associated with the anti-Obama movement seems almost unprecedented. The continued likening of Obama to a socialist was pervasive and although it launched the second career of Joe the plumber any liberal can tell you that Obama is at best a centrist minded liberal. But then I've already lost the plot before I even started. The issue is not one of policy, it is one of psyche. The truth is that while we are most definitely in a real recession (trust me on that one), we are also, if I may paraphrase a badly timed quip, in a mental depression.
Back in '08 I posted up a piece when I was trying to actually keep this blog afloat (something I've long since given up). It pondered the growing disconnect between traditional constituencies and the new political realities we find ourselves faced with. In particular my last few paragraphs have come back to me as a barometer of the discontent from that time, which has only grown since then.
Forget the responses we've heard today and those that will be forthcoming. The fact that this was an isolated incident perpetrated by an what is apparently a single disturbed individual does not and cannot negate the fact that we as Americans are losing the commons threads that bind us together. And I'm not really convinced that anyone grouping is actively trying to undo those threads as much as there is a convergence of things that coming together to affect that particular end.
I've highlighted what I believe to be the "culprits" a number of times.
From Malcolm's linked post in 2009,
"All the things I mentioned in my last post play important roles and need to be taken into account when dealing with gun violence. Death of community, de-industrialiaization and the casualization of the workforce, the increase in individual alienation, and the ever increasing rate of obesity and mental illness all play a role in this debate as well as the ever polarizing rhetoric of the most vocal gun rights advocates. All have a part in this, (unfortunately) mostly American problem"
From my last post,
"the new libertarianism is not a harbinger of by-gone liberties and community, but actually the death knell of communities and democracy, as business is granted apriori status over civil society"
And from my first "FMCDH" post,
"the belief in American individualism as it feeds into the myth that everyman is an island which obviously feeds back into the failure of needing one another in a moral sense.
"I noted in my commentson Malcolm's first post (yes from over a year ago!) the problems that accompany gun violence are far more complicated and nuanced than either side would give credit for. Before pronouncing predetermined verdicts we must actually ask honest questions with and actually listen to the answers we get back. This is also an opportunity which will probably the only time ever that I quote Bill Clinton and cite him for something reasonable when he stated the obvious, "words matter". "
We'll leave it there.