Wednesday, April 18. 2007
Like so many startling news events, the mass murder at Virginia Tech on Monday often brings observers to reassert what they believed in the first place. Consider the following quotes on gun control, in an article by Fred Mann in the Wichita Eagle:
That last line caught my attention, because a lot of Americans seem to be gravitating in that direction. But I've never seen anyone bring it up in a context that suggests they're looking forward to the day. Israel's perpetual war against their neighbors, including millions more/less under occupation, has left Israelis with a horrible bunker mentality, all the more fevered given the long history of atrocities against Jews.
The article goes on to quote Don Holman, owner of a shooting range called the Bullet Stop. A reliable local gun nut, he nonetheless manages a more sober assessment: "Guns in the right hands may have helped, but not in everybody's hands."
Another story in the Wichita Eagle this morning:
Obviously, this situation could have turned out much uglier than it did, and probably would have had the police not shown credible sympathy for the soldier. That was possible because on some level most of us recognize that what American soldiers experience in war can cause deep psychological trauma -- in some cases erupting in violence, against oneself and/or others. In some sense, we even recognize this as a cost of war, although it's remarkable how little consideration we give such costs until they blow back on us. Not only are they unanticipated, they are often hard to account for. I'd say that Timothy McVeigh more than doubled the number of American deaths attributable to the 1991 Gulf War. Few Americans will ever wind up scoring it that way, let alone factoring in all the causal links between that war and this one, or between America's use of armed force and covert operations to pursue its "interests" in the Middle East and the blowback it has caused.
My own view is that this culture of force, pushed so hard by the highest powers in government, and elevated to art in the media and through much of our culture, frames the acts of desperate individuals, like the shooter in Virginia and the would-be shooter in Kansas. But then that's what I thought before these events, if you will, proved me right.
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