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USA: American Carnage

One More Slaughter

Saturday 17 February 2018, by siawi3


February 16, 2018

American Carnage

by Jeffrey St. Clair

Americans have a remarkable tolerance for child slaughter, especially the mass murders of the children of others. This emotional indifference manifested itself vividly after the disclosure of the My Lai Massacre, when dozens of Vietnamese infants and children were killed by the men of Charlie Company, their tiny, butchered corpses stacked in ditches. After the trial of Lt. William Calley, more than 70 percent of Americans believed his sentence was too severe. Most objected to any trial at all. In the end, Calley served less than 4 years under house arrest for his role in the execution of more than 500 Vietnamese villagers.

Twenty-five years later, American attitudes toward child deaths had coarsened even harder. When it was revealed that US sanctions on Iraq had caused the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, icily argued that the deaths were “worth it” to advance US policy in the Middle East. Few Americans remonstrated against this official savagery done in their name.

Now the guns are being turned on America’s own children and the rivers of blood streaming out of US schools cause barely a ripple in our politics. If the Columbine shooting (1999) was a tragedy, what word do you use to describe the 436th school shooting since then?

Don’t look for an answer or even solace from any of our political leaders. All you’ll get is cant, hollow prayers and banal vituperations of the sort we’ve been hearing for two decades from the likes of Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi’s most restrictive gun control proposals wouldn’t have stopped any of the recent shootings. She plays politics with the blood of children as cynically as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. Both are adept at fundraising off the bodies of the dead.

Even the RussiaGaters seized the opportunity to turn Vladimir Putin into one of Nikolas Cruz’s co-conspirators. Democratic blowhard Eric Boehlert, formerly of Clinton defense team Media Matters, tweeted: “key Q: how much $$$$$ did @NRA accept from Russia in 2016?”

In these moments of national trauma, Donald Trump can be counted on to open his mouth only to extract one foot and insert the other. This week his creaky mandibles got quite the workout. First, he was goaded into mumbling his generic opposition to wife-beating. Then only a day later he had to summon the energy to sputter out scripted condolences for the victims and families of the mass shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

In the past, Trump has railed against what he—or Steve Bannon—called the “American carnage.” Of course, this week’s slaughter isn’t the kind of “carnage” that Trump was referring to, since it was committed by a MAGA-hat wearing teen from the suburbs, who was trained in the proper use of rifles by an NRA grant funded shooting program. From an operational perspective, the only thing missing was the silencer hawked by Trump’s idiotic son, Donald Jr. Trump’s urban villains, naturally, use knives, brass knuckles and switchblades.

One might be tempted to cut Trump some slack. After all, his political options were constricted. He couldn’t possibly be expected to talk about the fact that this is the 239th school shooting since Sandy Hook (2012). He couldn’t speak about the 438 people who have been shot in schools since Sandy Hook. Or the 138 people who have died in school shootings since Sandy Hook. Why? Because most of Trump’s hardcore base don’t believe the Sandy Hook massacre really happened. They believe it was a fake shooting staged by the gun cops of the Deep State. Next week, they will be saying the same thing about the Parkland slayings. The Trump presidency levitates on such dark fantasies. Better to keep the messaging simple.

So Trump could only say that the killings were the work of a teenager who was “mentally disturbed.” His bland, six minute homily deftly avoided the word “gun.” It couldn’t have slipped Trump’s mind that one of his first acts as president was to sign into a law a measure over-turning an Obama-era ban on the sale of guns to people with mental disabilities. Thus, instead of endorsing any measure to restrict the sale of guns to the insane, Trump called on his American subjects to become mental health snitches, to profile potential psychopaths and report suspicious “instances to authorities, again and again!” Can we start with the president? Do we dial 1-800-Deranged? Will Jeff Sessions pick up the line?

By most accounts, Nikolas Cruz was a troubled kid, who led a creepy life that was spiraling into acts of increasingly sadistic violence. Both of his adopted parents had died and Cruz was living a dead-end existence in a friend’s basement, while working a nothing job at the Dollar Tree store. He had apparently been treated for depression, but walked away from his therapy sessions. There’s no word yet on whether, like so many other shooters, he’d been fed anti-depressants. It’s when you come off the serotonin uplifters that the real trouble usually starts.

Society had turned its back on Cruz. He was one of the expendables, cut adrift by his school, which wasn’t equipped to deal with his deep psychological problems, to freefall without any safety net to catch him. But when he hit bottom, he returned with a vengeance to the very institution that had rejected him. Now we’re told to keep watch for others just like him. How many are out there, one bad experience from snapping and going full-auto at a mall or a schoolyard?

I try to summon some empathy for Nikolas Cruz, but can’t. Cruz tortured animals, threatened fellow students and openly bragged about his desire to kill people. This man should never have possessed even an pop gun, but on his minimum-wage job he was able to walk into a gun store and legally buy an AR-15 assault rifle and multiple magazines of ammunition. He made no effort to conceal his simmering animus or his arsenal of weapons. It’s all up on Youtube and Facebook. Cruz was even reported to the FBI, which, typically, didn’t pursue the lead. The FBI prefers to devote its resources to investigating crimes it orchestrates itself.

If you’re looking for the tragedy in all of this, it’s to be found in the fact that the same implements of mass death used at My Lai are entirely legal to buy, sell and own in the US fifty years later. In fact, these weapons are sanctified in American culture. AR-15 medallions hang like crucifixes from the necks of thousands of Americans. We have stepped in death so deep we’ve made a virtue of it.

The American moralists are always carping about personal responsibility. Well, Nikolas Cruz will be tried for his crimes and will likely spend the rest of his miserable life in one of Florida’s hellhole prisons. But who will be held accountable for allowing a monster like Cruz the means to commit them? Those are the people who should be reported to the authorities. The problem is: they are the authorities.



February 16, 2018

One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease

by John Eskow

I say “disease” instead of “illness” because it’s a creepier word, conjuring up nauseating images: syphilis, tumors, necrotizing bone. Technicolor mutations in old medical textbooks. Racism and fascism are of that ilk, gelatinous drops of poison that swirl around in a hellish test-tube with other noxious fluids until they bind together and bang: another spectacular chemical reaction. Spectacular and hideous but totally predictable.

Another school filled with twelve-year-old corpses, all dead at the hand of Nikolas Cruz, who said “I want to kill as many antifa as I can.” (His fellow neo-Nazis gave him extra points for picking a school with a large Jewish population.) Or a church full of dead black grandmothers in Charleston, blown apart by Dylann Roof, who—remember this?–sat and listened to them pray for two hours and then slaughtered them. Or an idyllic Norwegian island strewn with sixty-nine dead kids by Anders Breivik, yet another of these pale asexual snail-faced fascist monsters—their poster-boy, in fact.

It’s easy, all too easy, to dredge up more cases of this racist pathology in action, but I don’t have the heart for it right now. I’m too gut-sick from watching Pig-Man Trump perform his Ed Wood-level “I care” act. (Note to another racist scumbag, John Kelly: if your boy can’t fake it any better than that, don’t trot him out there. Leave the brow-furrowed Compassion Routine to the pros, like George Bush.)

I’m too weary from watching well-meaning souls on TV who talk earnestly about gun control without admitting what we all know in some dank corner of our souls: the prime source of mass murder in this world, whether it’s in the tree-lined small towns of America or the hamlets of Viet Nam or the drone-blasted deserts of Yemen, is racism. Racism armed with napalm, racism kitted out with bump-stocks and huge magazines, racism poisoning the waters of Flint—the pathogens float easily around the country and the globe, like windblown dandelion puffs. It’s the only disease that is terminal for other people, not one’s-self.

In the course of a lifelong fascination with violent racists I have spent a fair amount of time among them. Every single one of them was visibly diseased, and not only by the racism itself. It’s obvious on first meeting that most racists were grievously abused by their parents: “hold you in his arms you can feel his disease,” as John Lennon said. Nearly all are socially inept. Many are cops—and I don’t say that to be cute or snarky; one of my closest friends is a New Orleans homicide cop—but it’s true.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time among hard-left activists, too, some of whom fantasized about acts of political violence, some of whom even acted cavalier about the possibility that innocent people would die. But even the most case-hardened leftists never envisioned slaughtering innocent people on purpose, as an end in itself, much less slaughtering old women at prayer; and none of them would have chuckled merrily at the spectacle of dead eighth-graders.

This is a peculiarly fascist and racist disease, a suppurating tumor with the face of Ted Cruz (if that’s not redundant.) Those floating pathogens are wriggling and teeming on websites all over America, and they are especially vivid and naked there, but they are also rotting the souls of DC politicians from within—even the well-spoken, well-dressed ones. By all means, let us have gun control, so as to diminish the spread of the disease, or at least slow it down. But unless the infected spirit of American racism is cauterized with a piece of burning iron it will be our terminal illness.

John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He is a contributor to Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence.



February 16, 2018

Guns, Violence and the United States

by Robert Fantina

Photo by Mike Lewinski | CC BY 2.0

Let us all take a quick look at the news:

+ The White House is in chaos.

+ The investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia drags on.

+ The U.S. won some Olympic medals.

Is there anything else? Oh yes:

+ Seventeen people were killed in a school shooting, the eighth such shooting in the U.S. this year (and it is only mid-February), making it hardly newsworthy.

One might think that politicians in the U.S. would take note of this last item. This is not a ‘one-of’, but an ongoing pattern in schools across the country. This latest shooting happened in Parkland, Florida, named ‘Florida’s Safest City’ in 2017.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio offered his thoughts and prayers for the victims; very nice, indeed, but he is one of 50 people who could make changes that might have prevented this, and the seven other such shootings that have occurred this year. Yet he has consistently opposed any kind of gun control. Perhaps the fact that he’s accepted over $3,000,000.00 in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) over the course of his career may have something to do with his opposition to sensible gun laws. Following this latest tragedy, he said that it was too early to discuss gun control, “…because people don’t know how this happened.”

This writer is puzzled by Rubio’s pearls of wisdom. ‘How this happened’ seems quite clear; he will explicate it for the good senator: A man with a semi-automatic weapon, designed to shoot many bullets quickly, thus enabling the person operating it to kill many people quickly if he so chooses, walked into a school, activated the fire alarm so students would come running out of their classrooms, and began doing with his gun exactly what it was built do to. As a result, seventeen people are dead, and dozens more are injured. Seventeen families now must bear unimaginable grief. Thousands of students are now at risk of post -traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); whether or not they will return to that school, or if they will need to be relocated is yet to be determined. School administrators now face a situation they should never have had to experience. But Rubio doesn’t know how this happened.

A year and a half earlier, in June of 2016, Florida had another massacre, this one at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Fifty people, including the assailant, were killed and 58 wounded by an assassin using the same kind of gun that was used in Parkland. Republican Governor Rick Scott, another darling of the NRA, said at that time that “…the Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody.” He implied that that shooting was somehow related to ISIS and terrorism, although the perpetrator was U.S. born. And in Florida, it’s easier to purchase an AR-15 than it is to buy a pistol. But the governor, like Rubio, sees no point in doing anything more than offering ‘thoughts and prayers.’

Just this year, there have been at least 31 mass shootings, causing 58 deaths and 124 injuries. These have occurred in high-crime areas and well-to-do neighborhoods. No one is exempt, even people living in the ‘safest city’ in the country.

Also this year, 123 people have been killed by the police, another group for whom guns and gun violence are a way of life.

As of this writing, we are 46 days into the new year. That means that there is a mass shooting in the U.S. every day and a half. It means that more than one person per day dies as a result of a mass shooting. It means that the police in the U.S. kill nearly 3 people every day.

This does not occur in any other nation on the planet. Rich or poor, democratic, socialist, or any other form of government, the U.S. leads in gun deaths.

It is simplistic to say that the availability of guns is the cause; that is merely one of many, and reasonable, sensible gun laws would certainly reduce this tragic number of deaths. But there is an acceptance of violence that permeates U.S. society, and is glorified within it.

In the media and through the words and actions of government officials, soldiers, who are trained to kill, are revered. The more they kill, the greater their respect. A soldier named Chris Kyle, the most deadly sniper in U.S. history, was the subject of a movie showing his ‘heroics’ in killing people. It is ironic that, in 2013, he was shot to death by a fellow soldier suffering from PTSD, who used a gun Kyle owned.

This attitude of reverence for killers is nothing new in the U.S. After Lieutenant William Calley was convicted of murdering hundreds of people in My Lai, Vietnam, he was sentenced to life in prison. Surveys in the U.S. indicated that 79% of the U.S. public thought the verdict was too harsh. He wound up serving for less than four years under house arrest.

Parents, when speaking of their grown children in the military, speak proudly of their ‘service’. Veterans, those who do not regret their time in the military, talk about how they helped ‘keep America free’. Police officers appear to have little concern about their countless victims, or the suffering and grief of the loved ones of those victims. That they act as judge, jury and executioner cannot be denied. Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August of 2014 described his victim as a demon. He testified thusly: “I looked at his face. It was just, like, intense; was very aggravated, aggressive, hostile.” This is a significant amount of information to be gleaned from a look on a person’s face. He further stated: “You could tell he was looking through you. There was nothing he was seeing.” What this means is anyone’s guess, but it was sufficient for Wilson to determine that Brown had sufficiently bad intentions to warrant his immediate death.

The U.S. movie industry differs from that of many European nations in how it rates films. In the U.S., movies with explicit sex scenes receive R and X ratings, but explicit violence tends to garner a PG-13 or R rating. In many other nations, the reverse is true; younger audience are permitted to see movies with some sex, but are prevented, at least according to the ratings systems, from seeing those with excessive violence.

For these nearly constant acts of violence to end, the U.S. must recognize that killing is not beneficial; U.S. wars only increase hatred towards the U.S., glorifying soldiers only begets violence, and granting impunity to the police for their murders only intensifies hostility towards all police officers.

This mindset will not be easy to change, and will be impossible under the current government. Republicans and Democrats alike share the blame, and as long as it is legal for them to be bribed by ‘campaign contributions’, nothing will change.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).