As the 212th shooting of 2022 goes down, Americans still refuse to confront their dark side
by Adventures in the Free World (Photo:Gabriele Galimberti fromthe photo series The Ameriguns)
This constant nonsense of rotating between “No, we need gun control!” and “No, it’s a mental health issue!” has gotten absurd. What else do people expect from living in the most murderous empire in human history, where we are socialized from cradle to grave to believe in the legitimacy of a government which commits genocide 365 days a year simply to preserve world economic domination for the benefit of a handful of billionaires – all while a full half of American citizens couldn’t survive a $400 emergency?
What do people think “Live by the sword, die by the sword” means, anyway? Do they imagine it means “Except for us, because we’re the ‘greatest nation in the world’/’the good guys’” and other fantasies?
People that vent their outrage online every time another mass shooting happens, cycling back and forth between blaming Republicans, blaming this-or-that SCOTUS justice or politician, blaming a certain ideology or political position, are unserious about seeing real change. It’s not to say that there isn’t some sort of genuine feeling there, but when mass shootings (along with police murdering unarmed civilians) happen on a near-daily basis and people are still pearl-clutching and tossing around the same vapid excuses in order to confront the real source of the problem or say the quiet part out loud, “unserious” is an accurate criticism.
Capitalism is violence. The capitalist system breeds violence in all forms. Capitalism creates poverty and death. Yet those who are beneficiaries of capitalism, or have maintained a modicum of comfort or stability under the capitalist system, will never admit its complicity – for a dozen complicated reasons which are a separate article in themselves – when the latest atrocity porn is dominating the mainstream media cycle.
People die of capitalism in this country every day, and people die as victims of the American capitalist system outside our borders daily in exponentially larger numbers. All this, as the Democrat legislative majority hands enough money to Ukraine to end homelessness in the United States in order to INSTEAD fund Biden’s proxy war with Russia.
There is functionally no difference between Americans dying because they have to ration their insulin, can’t pay for cancer treatment, or can’t afford to go to a doctor.
Between Americans dying because they were thrown out of their homes due to the criminal pandemic response and now can’t afford even to rent anywhere because of what happened to the market.
Between Americans dying in prison on bullshit drug charges, the 150,000 that die of opioid overdoses yearly, of other deaths of despair, or of childbirth- as we have the highest maternal death rate in the developed world.
There is functionally no difference between the children Republican and Democrat presidents alike bombed to death at schools, weddings and hospitals during our 20 plus-year “war on terrorism” all over the Middle East and the global south.
There is functionally no difference between the children these presidents have starved to death – starvation being exponentially more painful and horrific than being shot- in Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Syria, Libya, Iran, Venezuela, Honduras, Iran, and Palestine; all due to American militarism and regime-change operations.
The media psy-op of presenting a school shooting as being somehow more criminal or horrific than all of the above is pure propaganda. ALL violence should be equally condemned, because all violence is equally unjust and morally wrong. But more than anything, the systemic violence that causes individuals to choose to take their pain out on others must be front and center in these discussions, because there is no such thing as a “lone gunman” with “mental health issues” in a country built and bred upon murder and exploitation. These shooters are the canaries in the coalmine – and they should be treated as such.
The insidious fact is that a large number of Americans are so self-centered that they are only outraged at things they believe could happen to THEIR kids.
This is why the lack of a healthcare system doesn’t bother people who are cool with their employer-sponsored health insurance and have no problem affording medical care for their families.
Why it doesn’t bother them that one in ten diabetics – even those insured – play Russian roulette with their insulin because they can’t afford to pay for the amount they actually need.
Why they’re not outraged that every major city in the country has tent encampments of the unhoused, who are routinely preyed upon by city governments and police forces razing the country’s most vulnerable peoples’ few earthly possessions with bulldozers as money appropriated for helping them is funneled elsewhere.
Why Americans don’t include children outside of our borders when they cry out, “But think of the children!” Safely ensconced in their homes, the only violence that breaks through the bubble of exceptionalism is the thought that when they send THEIR kids to school, this could happen to THEM.
This is exactly the reason that the same millions of Americans who scoffed at Bernie Sanders platform centering healthcare as a human right, calling it “ponies for everyone” and running him out of the race at the start of a global health emergency, were the ones most loudly calling for the heads of anyone that didn’t choose to care for their health regarding Covid-19 according to their personal demands. “I feel personally threatened and now I demand you to make me feel safe!” was the rallying cry, ignoring the blatant hypocrisy and moral relativism from which it is born.
It’s way past time that American citizens wholly confront America’s dark side – and that includes the dark side of their own psyches that cause them to remain passive, or even complicit with a system birthed by genocide and white settler colonialism, which maintains its power and economic legitimacy through murder and exploitation – thereby being responsible for the unhinged reactionary violence of various individuals that results.
“But what about the shooter? Aren’t they responsible for their own actions?” Yes. What a derptastic question, as if anyone is actually claiming that if all of the above were true, then EVERYONE would be going into schools and shooting fourth graders. Let’s not pretend that’s the ultimate source of the problem when it’s not.
“But all those other people, it’s not MY problem THEY can’t pay for healthcare and housing!” If you really think you magically ascended to a stable position in the meritocracy all on your own strengths and hard work – that the system does not advantage you while disadvantaging others, or that you are somehow “more deserving” than “those OTHER people,” you need an economics education or a lobotomy – or both.
The fallacy upon which people predicate their distinction between “worthy” and “unworthy” victims is whether or not they believe a person was helpless.
Dividing the world into worthy and unworthy victims is a tactic used to justify our crimes and demonize our enemies.
-Chris Hedges, Worthy and Unworthy Victims
When we have been scammed into believing the country is a meritocracy, the excuse people tell themselves goes like this:
A disease spreading can happen to worthy victims if those victims did “all the right things,” but if they didn’t do those things and catch the disease, then “they deserve it.” A shooting that happens among gang members is two unworthy victims, thereby not deserving of sympathy; an unarmed civilian shot by police is slightly more deserving; and innocent children in school are the most deserving. But someone dying because they lost everything, starting with their house? Well, they just didn’t work hard enough! They didn’t go to the right college, or perhaps college at all. They should have changed jobs to something that paid them more. “Whatever the cause, it couldn’t possibly be systemic – not in a meritocracy – because then how can I justify my class position as deserved and due to my hard work and extraordinary intelligence?”
And so with every act of violence, we explain it away along the battle lines of culture wars, morality, and individual responsibility, while capitalism – the water we are all swimming in – is both the original sin and the current cause of increasing deaths of despair and reactionary rage.
This is a game of delusion, disinformation, and misdirection in which civilians have a moral obligation to stop participating. Without acknowledging the root cause of the issue, there isn’t a damn thing under any administration that will ever change.
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