Massacre

TPM Reader MS on Isla Vista …

My son and stepson live just a few blocks from where the stabbings and shootings took place in Isla Vista. They were getting ready to go out and celebrate the end of their freshman year at Santa Barbara City College when the sirens started on Friday night. My husband and I are grateful to his son for texting us to let us know he was okay before we even knew anything had happened, but I spent a terrifying 15 minutes trying to reach my own boy to find out whether he was safe.

They, and we, were lucky. A friend who heard the news commented that this was really the bottom of American craziness about gun violence, and I reminded her that Sandy Hook was supposed to have been the bottom. That massacre resulted in looser gun laws and a stronger, louder, more intractable NRA, which successfully frightened people into believing that any attempt to reduce gun violence would result in the “loss of our freedoms.” This weekend California politician Tony Strickland hastened to assure voters he was all in favor of unrestricted gun rights, despite the fact that children had yet again been gunned down, this time in his state.

The kid who did the killing first used a knife to kill his housemates. If he only had access to a knife, it’s likely no one else would have died that night.

For how long do we as a society continue to sublimate the reality that (mostly) young people are being massacred every day in cities all over this country–a very concrete, visible, measurable disaster–to a romantic fantasy cherished by a minority of Americans about heroically fighting off some secret government army that is planning to move in and turn us into, oh I don’t know, Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany or who knows what inchoate mashup of bogeys that burns in their imaginations.

The United States still has the most powerful military in the world despite the damage done to it in recent years, so any action-movie scenario of rugged stubble-chinned men with their automatic weapons standing in front of the women-folk at the doors of their homes facing down the 1st Infantry is, of course, just that: a stale movie script.

The cherished terror of a great left-wing conspiracy and its secret army assumes that the hapless and hemorrhaging federal government, which could not keep Bradley Manning or Ed Snowden quiet, is capable of keeping this army and these plans secret. Another summer blockbuster.

I don’t need to go on. Meanwhile, real Americans are bleeding and dying in their hundreds on our real streets due to real, uncontrolled gun violence. They don’t get to pursue life, liberty, or happiness. But the rights of these dead kids, apparently, don’t have much weight compared to some people’s right to cherish hot fantasies of what it means to be an American.

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