Monday, October 02, 2017

The Malignancy Devouring America

The Guardian editorial today explores the horror that permeates America and the horror story, its president.

The mass shooting of a concert crowd in Las Vegas is deeply shocking. It seems to have shocked even President Trump. But the oleaginous teleprompted piety with which he responded could not be further from his contemptuous indifference to the plight of Puerto Rico. At least 58 people are known to have been murdered in Las Vegas. Hundreds are wounded and the death toll will undoubtedly rise. But it will never approach the toll caused by hurricane Maria in the Caribbean island a fortnight ago. Although the official death toll there stands at only 17, the morgues are full in hospitals all over the country: it is only the lack of electricity, water, and transport that prevents them from being tallied. Sixty of the island’s 69 hospitals are still cut off from power; half the 3.4 million inhabitants still lack safe drinking water.

The differing responses to the two catastrophes is a stark illumination of racialisation of first- and second-class citizenship in the US. The Puerto Ricans are brown-skinned Spanish speakers. Although they are American citizens, they have no political representation in Congress and no votes in presidential elections. The crowd in Vegas were predominantly white, celebrating a form of music that is also largely white, and where the iconography, by a sour irony, is all in favour of the right to bear arms. They get the treacly appeals to Jesus; the Puerto Ricans were dismissed as “ingrates”.

Mass shootings are so common that the satirical paper the Onion has run the same headline four times in the last two years, each time prompted by a different mass murder: “‘No way to prevent this’ says the only nation where this regularly happens”. Yet the dramatic headline-catching slaughter is not the only dreadful aspect of the situation. Eighty or more people are killed by gunshots every day across the USA. So far this year, there have been 11,565 gun deaths in the US; 545 children under the age of 11 killed or injured, and 273 incidents classified as mass shootings.

There is a desolating pointlessness to these statistics. A third of the gunshot deaths are suicides, as it appears the Las Vegas gunman’s was too. In a country where guns are so freely available, legally or otherwise, and the nearest thing to a state-funded and universally available mental health service is the prison system, the figure for suicide is hardly going to diminish. The desperation of the suicidal and the rage of the homicidal are not the only forms of derangement around the subject of guns. The persistent refusal of Congress even to consider restrictions on the right of gun ownership is now so much part of the political landscape that shares in gunmakers rose at the news of the massacre. The two tragedies in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas are dreadful in themselves, but taken together they suggest a systematic weakness in American democracy which is more threatening than either.


Northern PoV said...

But neither shocked nor surprised. We know that nothing will change regarding the bizarre American addiction to guns. NRA types may invent false flag narratives like they did for Sandy Hook and the good ole' folks will just buy more guns 'to protect themselves'. Business as usual.

Now, hoping the best for Tom Petty ....

Well, I won't back down
No, I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

Trailblazer said...

Time to close our hearts and minds to the senseless USA.
A nation in decline intent upon taking everyone with them to the bottom.

I listened to right wing USA radio, today, anticipating the rebuttal of gun toting Republicans to any responsibility to yesterday's event or on any other gun fight at the OK corral.

First up was Rush Limbaugh to actually gave time to a phone in caller from Tennessee that suggested that.
Country music fans are generally from the South West USA.
Those from the South West USA are ,generally, Republican!
Hence the gunman was a Democrat taking his frustration out of Republicans.

In the afternoon; Lars Larsen, a well known gun promoter, spent considerable time discussing the differences between semi automatic and fully automatic guns and that more gun control would achieve nothing; this from a man that promotes concealed carry of fire arms.

The USA is a nation in denial.

It is time to stop making excuses for them.

Those in power in the USA; worship the flag, the cross and guns, but worship nothing more than money..


The Mound of Sound said...

I suppose that, like me, you know plenty of Canadians who, since Trump was elected, now choose not to visit the US any longer. I'm in their ranks. That's not easy given that the sole survivor of my "Gang of Five" friends is American and it's a pretty small world since the others were prematurely felled - leukemia, melanoma, brain cancer and, the fourth, by his own hand. Yet I'll have to cut my ties to America because I don't believe the place they're in can be redeemed. As a democracy I think they're done. I have great sympathy for the many Americans who haven't succumbed to this contagion but I can't see that they have the ability to fix it either.

lungta said...

if America is really the whore of Babylon
then Canada is pretty much just a petty coat for the bitch
we will go down as hard as the Americans
and with no relief from .....who russia?.. china?
bend the knee?
the canadian flag is more visually indicative of an used tampon for lady liberty
than anything like "canadian"
our "forces" are already integrated
money talks and we are they , they are we one internationally can tell us apart

Anonymous said...

Number of Americans killed on battlefields in all wars in history: 1,396,733

Killed by firearms in the US since 1968: 1,516,863

In other words, a US soldier is 9% more likely to die from gunfire at home than from any source of death on the battlefield. The Pentagon should use that in its recruiting brochures.


Anonymous said...

Of course we agreed with them on their false notion of 'American Exceptionalism'. Of course, we all said "yes, you're Number One!"--they have guns to our heads, 24/7/365. Their exceptionalism was born of immigration.

The Mound of Sound said...

lungta, that was gratuitously crude and, I expect, to some who might read it, offensive. You can do better than that.

The Mound of Sound said...

Cap, when you include the carnage of the Civil War in that, it goes get one's attention. It's grotesque, isn't it?

The Mound of Sound said...

LALI, several times I've argued that, when it comes to climate change in the States, we'll wind up with most of the essential assets while the hillbillies will have all the guns.

Anonymous said...

Mound, it certainly is grotesque. Now consider that there are two bills expected to be signed into law that would deregulate silencers, ostensibly to save the hearing of hunters. Note the names of these bills: the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, and the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (the SHARE Act). Hearing protection and sharing, what could be more mom and apple pie?

If Paddock had been using silencers, I wonder how long he would have been able to continue his killing spree. Some in the crowd would see people dropping but wouldn't know why. The concert would likely go on as the performers wouldn't know what was happening in the crowd. Police would be unable to use sound to figure out where the shots were coming from and the elevated position would make the shooter very hard to spot.

Yet these silencer bills seem to be getting no pushback from police. Very strange.


Anonymous said...

Anyong.....I suggest listening to the "Ideas" program on CBC from last evening. Canadians are smug regarding guns....but there are four factions lobbying all the time in Canada to own guns that are made to mow people down. By the way...NRA the American version, was adopted by Americans from Canada way back when.

Trailblazer said...

Canadians are smug regarding guns....

We have problems but nothing compared to the USA.
Within the USA , gun violence is a huge issue .
However; if you add in USA violence internationally we reach epic numbers!!!

Let's face it the USA is a violent nation.


Anonymous said...

Anyong.....YWAS Canadians are smug when it comes to guns. Every one and their dogs own guns in Alberta.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't think we're smug about guns, Anyong. I belong to the local sportsman's club and use the rifle range for target and skeet shooting. The guns most of us use would be familiar to our fathers and grandfathers. There are a lot of bolt action and lever action rifles. They're the hunting rifles that give the best accuracy.

The American experience is different - more semi-automatics, more assault rifles. It's this "black rifle" M-16/AR-15 fetish that I find particularly worrisome. They claim they're hunting rifles but they're not. They're designed for close combat, humans shooting humans. The popular AK-47 is even less accurate. The shooters who shoot competitively, for accuracy, use long barreled, single shot, bolt action rifles of the sort you're more likely to see at a Canadian rifle range.