Tuesday 3 October 2017

a well-regulated militia

American society, despite ample evidence to the contrary that more stringent gun-control laws curb violent shootings, is unwilling and incapable of reform and would rather indulge an illusory and contingent freedom and risk the unavoidable horror that is bundled into the selective reading of the intent of their Founding Fathers rather than take the stance that is apparently the tougher of the two—though those who’ve lost a family member, neighbour or a teacher probably have an easier time of deciding. Those directly affected by these tragedies, and they surely have great ripples across millions of lives, certainly deserve our emotional support and help tending to immediate needs—but for those of us digesting this all too frequent occurrence, we must needs be willing to confront something darker and also to know (not accept) that it is doomed to happen all over again.
This isn’t a taunt or challenge: America has perfected the script and there’s no deviation in its reading. Myriad chances for change have presented themselves and at times when there was far greater political will and political prowess, but the people of America choose again and again to embrace the message that surrendering a modicum on the right to bear arms represents run-away erosion on their liberties. Upbringing and the founding mythology plays an out-sized role in this self-destructive tendency, but so too does the gun industry and their lobbyists. Not that it changes anything, here is a directory of the congress men and women who accepted campaign donations from the National Rifle Association, legislated accordingly and now offer their thoughts and prayers in return.  The other uncomfortable truth we need to confront is how the event is not ultimately classified by its toll or audacity but by whether the shooter, perpetrator is white and has a name that doesn’t betray too much of a foreign origin. Rather than terrorism, it’s mental disease (which strikes me as something very harsh to intimate to anyone who is already suffering a lot of distress) and prosecuted accordingly—whereas, if the crimes are presented by someone with brown skin, it’s another point to the argument that we need to be able to defend ourselves from those who hate our way of life. It’s the latter conceit that’s among America’s most successful exports lately, and while fortunately the world is not willing to liberalise its weapon-laws down to American levels (a prominent German gun manufacturer has in fact pledged to stop selling munitions to corrupt regimes) real danger remains that we will start believing in the veracity of America’s underlying narrative and justification rather than reconciling it for what it is: the driving force behind this puerile, perennial display of helplessness to feel more secure in one’s own complicities and prejudices.