Notes on Charleston

June 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s difficult to write commentary on the mass shootings in the U.S. that happen with disturbing frequency (a study I read in the Times on the weekend suggested they average one every three weeks), mostly because there are so many of them, but also because the narrative changes so quickly.

So, here are a few memorable troupes.

1. It’s the War on Christians (again)

The attempt by Fox and Friends among others to paint this as an attack on religion, and using a failed black republican candidate pastor E.W. Jackson, who has called gays a plague and was OK with the three-fifths compromise, to do it.  To be fair to Fox and Friends, this was before the Dylann Roof was arrested,  and even after that  Mike Huckerbee, Rick Santorum and a number of Republican presidential candidates said the same thing. However, the very idea that the victims were targeted because they were Christians is, as one wag put it, like saying 911 was an act of architectural critique.

2. Barack Obama on auto-pilot.

How many times has Obama given this speech? 12, 13 times? You would have thought someone could have hired a software designer to write a program for him that just spit out the relevant details whenever this happens.The notion of gun control was floated, but if the massacre of school children at Sandy Hook couldn’t produce change, you have to wonder what will.

3. The False Flag Brigade

Almost as soon as the news event happened, the conspiracy industry began geering up. On the right, it was those who saw this as the Obama administrations attempt to take away guns. (why worry – if Obama’s agenda has been to take away guns, he’s not very good at it) And on the “left,” there have been suspicious mumbling about how the security apparatus could have missed someone like Roof. The only possible conclusion? They created him like Lee Harvey Oswald. Actually you only have to read the comment section in pretty much any on line forum to read these opinions.

4. The Rick Perry Misspeak

A day after the shootings, Rick Perry was on TV giving his opinions. During the segment, Perry referred to the shootings as an accident. Twice. A spokesperson later insisted that Perry merely misspoke. He meant to say “incident. ” Odder though, was the attempt by Perry to link it to prescription medication given to vets (Perry’s pet issue)

5. The Von Clownstick Bluster

In his speech announcing his candidacy for president, Von Clownstick made a number of ugly slanders  and argued that most Mexican who came to the US were murders, rapists or criminals (along with a few good people, he conceded – huh). After the killings, Hillary Clinton argued rhetoric like Von Clownstick’s contributed to such events. The response on Instagram:

“Wow! It’s pretty pathetic that Hillary Clinton just blamed me for the horrendous attack that took place in South Carolina. This is why politicians are just no good. Our country’s in trouble.”

And again, I note, these are the best and the brightest America has to offer?

6. The NRA: Blame the Victim

NRA Board member Charles Cotton hands down wins the tone-deaf comment award

“He [Rev. Pinckney] voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

Cotton, you may remember, wrote in January that spanking a child may prevent people like Cotton having to shoot them when they get older. Uh huh. Because the reason for the rise of violent criminals is not enough spanking, right?

The NRA though distanced itself noting that individual board members do not speak for the organizations, in other words a weasel excuse.

8. Oh, you mean the Confederate Flag is a symbol of Racism?

I will say, the collapse of support for the Battle Flag of the Confederacy surprised me. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in favour of keeping the flag. Of course, a few whined that Republicans were being unfairly tarred with being flag defenders when it was the Dixiecrats in 1948 who were responsible for its rebirth – true enough, but given that Nixon’s “Southern strategy” was win that racist demographic for the Republicans, the criticism does seem a little thin).  But since everyone’s an anti-racist now…

And that’s it.

Under this entire discussion, racism and gun violence, are discussed as simply individual acts, as bad decisions that bad people make. The notion that these things are built into the structure of society is outside of the bounds of polite conversation; the territory of the crazy. And yet, by viewing the fraying social fabric of U.S. society and beyond as simply the result of bad choices rather than a fundamental problem with social organization, the problem will only continue and worsen.

1 Comment

  1. Schalken said,

    I think the celerity with which politicians turned on the Confederate battle flag can be interpreted as a cynical ploy to divert attention from guns. I mean, everything I’ve heard in the wake of the shooting has been about the flag, and almost nothing has been about guns. I imagine that’s how they want it. Even though they long defended the flag as the honorable symbol of their region, as the almost-holy object for which their ancestors shed blood, etc., they’ll gladly sacrifice it to divert attention from guns.

    And from what I can tell — not having closely followed the news — it’s the same people who defended the flag last week who are most vocal now in calling for it to come down (e.g., SC Governor Nikki Haley).

    At any rate, I completely agree that the problem is the result of the way capitalist society operates. Palliatives like banning guns or better funding mental health clinics can only go so far.

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