This has got to stop

Ironically or not, I meant to post this great Alexandra Petri column earlier this week.  Damn is it more relevant than ever:

Imagine being careless enough and cruel enough to allow someone to punch such holes in the world deliberately, repeatedly, in the name of a lie. The lie is that we have no choice in this matter. The lie is that any effort, however common-sense, to restrict firearms or lower the capacity of magazines, is part of a vicious scheme to strip you of your freedoms. The lie is that this imaginary, vast conspiracy is more to be feared than these deaths that occur so frequently that we are almost out of synonyms for “horror.” How do you tell someone he is a sacrifice worth making to preserve this lie? How do you tell a child?

How do you do that?  By being in total, intentional, willful, denial that there is any connection to our gun policies and all our gun deaths.  Of course, the evidence on that is really clear.  I summarized it here.

I’ve made repeated references to Gary Wills‘ “Our Moloch” but it’s been too long since I actually quoted from it.  Going to re-up on that (note: Moloch’s figures on shootings are from 2012):

Ancient Romans justified the destruction of Carthage by noting that children were sacrificed to Moloch there. Milton represented Moloch as the first pagan god who joined Satan’s war on humankind:

First Moloch, horrid king, besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears,
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard, that pass’d through fire
To his grim idol. (Paradise Lost 1.392-96)

Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains—“besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. “It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch.

Can a person not wear body armor only wielding a pistol with limited capacity of ammunition still kill a lot of people?  Certainly.  But we sure make it absurdly easy to allow pretty much any nutcase to get a gun and ammunition designed for maxiumum human lethality.  This has literally nothing to do with the 2nd amendment, even as expansively re-defined by Scalia and friends in DC vs. Heller.  We could literally pass completely Constitutional laws today to limit assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition, etc., if we had the political will.

Alas, we have the opposite.  I’ll close with this observation in the NYT:

From New Zealand to Pittsburgh to a synagogue in Poway, Calif., aggrieved white men over the last several months have turned to mass murder in service of hatred against immigrants, Jews and others they perceive as threats to the white race.

Once again on Saturday, America’s epidemic of mass shootings intersected with the divisive issues of race and immigration.

The words of the manifesto, in citing the “great replacement” theory, echo the slogan that was chanted during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017: “Jews will not replace us.”

The writer of the manifesto also suggested that Democrats in the United States have a strategy to gain a permanent majority by embracing the growing Hispanic population, a notion that has gained currency on right-wing radio shows for years.

Hmm, but it’s not like we have a political party and its tribune giving active support to the idea that immigrants are “vermin” coming to cause crime and take away white people’s jobs.  Ugh.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to This has got to stop

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    This says it all about gun violence in our country. I heard Trey Gowdy, former Congressman, on Fox this morning saying people have a primary right to life and therefore he would accept any gun restrictions that could be scientifically proven to reduce gun violence. Probably he has forgotten that many years ago a law was passed forbidding the CDC to even look into issue of guns and gun violence, so there is much less science available on the issue than there could have been. Never the less, gun restrictions have reduced gun violence in the states that have enacted them.
    If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the same negative results, then we have an insane political system. We have a democracy that ignores the demands of the people.
    Oh, wait! It can’t be a democracy if it ignores the demands of a great majority of the people.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Oh good God… “scientifically proven” I’m pretty damn sure he means to hold that to a standard of salt dissolves in water scientifically proven and would not accept a single social science result ever as “scientifically proven.” Not to mention, that whole “proven” thing.

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