From CNET: A bulletproof blanket seeks to shield kids during school shootings
Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.
– Arnold Toynbee
Let’s review a few news items from the past few days/months:
— A scofflaw rancher attracts a motley assortment of militia defenders threatening to shoot federal agents.
— A “sovereign citizen” in Georgia dies in a shootout with deputies while trying to take over a courthouse.
— Right wing extremists walk up to two Las Vegas police officers and shoot them, declaring the beginning of a revolution.
— A POW is released, and a sizable portion of the nation, instead of celebrating, rains down opprobrium upon the POW, his family, and President Obama.
And those are just off the top of my head. I could also include Senator Rand Paul tweeting that next time Pres. Obama does a prisoner swap, he should send five Democrats instead.
Things which were once beyond the pale have become commonplace, even excused. This isn’t something endemic solely to the Age of Obama. Oklahoma City happened on the watch of the previous Democratic president, who shares the trait of being demonized with Pres. Obama.
The pass in which we find ourselves has been long in gestation. It’s just been brought to gruesome birth upon the election and re-election of the nation’s first black President.
For close on two decades, the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and their cohorts on right wing hate radio and Fox News hate television have been providing a steady diet of outrage and conspiracy. But outrage and conspiracy are like heroin: each successive hit has to be more potent, has to up the high, as their acolytes seek to keep the outrage up, seek meaning for all the travails besetting them. Thus you get people like Alex Jones, who is more than willing to feed the addicts with ever more insane junk, upping the potency, wasting what’s left of their minds.
To an ever-increasing segment of the Right, looking for its junkie fix, political opponents are no longer to be debated, but to be eliminated. They don’t see themselves in an existential crisis; the crisis has already come, and they see no way out. So nihilism is the answer; destroy everything, pull everything down and take the bastards with you.
That the “establishment” Right eschews all responsibility for this situation is not surprising. The majority of Americans merely want to live their lives in some sort of peace and security, and would look askance at a party which promoted sedition. But the establishment Right has much to answer for, and the blood of every person murdered by right wing fanatics is on their heads. They encouraged the paranoia, the hatred, the fear, thinking it was their ticket to power. John McCain chose Sarah Palin precisely because she was a loose cannon true believer, who could say things that he as the top of the ticket couldn’t, who could stoke the fear, the utter hatred which simmered beneath the surface of Republican politics. The blood of the officers in Las Vegas and Georgia rest squarely on their heads, as they kowtow to the NRA, as they give credence to the fantasy that the ATF is on the way to seize guns, that Pres. Obama is the greatest threat to American civilization since the founding of the Republic.
We are now in a world where children are taught to hide from gunmen underneath flimsy bulletproof blankets, which would be useless in any case, but most definitely useless against a semi-automatic assault rifle. We are now in a nation where hoodlums walk the aisles of Target and Home Depot slung with AR-15s exercising their right to bear arms. We are now in a nation where the darkest fantasies are given weight in journals and television broadcasts. As Toynbee says, we are not being murdered, but committing suicide.
What to do? Fight. Not with guns, but with words. Not with fear, but with determination. We cannot accept the unacceptable. We cannot normalize the abnormal. I should not have to sit in a restaurant next to an armed civilian. I should not have to fear that a fender bender will escalate to me being shot dead. The fevered dreams of the Right should not be given any oxygen. Dangerous non-entities like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz should not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power.
The Right is correct about one thing: our civilization is at stake. But they are the ones leading us to a death of a thousand cuts. Every conspiracy it sanctions, every demon it creates, leads us into a terminal death rattle. America, for all its faults, still has a majority of decent, caring people. It is that majority which will rebuild the nation. The minority belonging to the party of death has to be marginalized, or we will go the way of previous civilizations. It is that majority in which we place our hopes. I will not give in to fear, because the dirty secret is that our opponents are the rankest of cowards. Guns make everyone a Rambo; open, empty hands fear no one.
Look at the kids cowering under useless blankets. And know what you have to do.