I've been relatively silent the last few weeks as several happenings around the world have served to so perfectly coalesce and demonstrate everything facing our society that commenting would have been irresponsible without taking time to think it all through. It's easy to get angry, lord knows I do a lot of that, but it's much harder to soberly try and assess what happened, whose fault it is, and how we can move towards a world that, at the very least, FEELS fairer.
This weekend I'm going to talk about 3 seemingly uncconected issues. They were all in one piece but that piece was absurdly long so... First the Pulse nightclub massacre, then “Brexit”, and then the most recent police shootings. Then I'll connect the dots and show how all three are symptoms of the same thing. If we can't even agree on what happened, how the hell can we agree on what's to blame, to say nothing of a solution.
Ah solutions. IF you're reading because you think I'm going to propose solutions you may be dissapointed. One of my cental theses is that there are no solutions. Only responses.
Lets go chronologically. The massacre in Orlando. Almost immeditely I told O'keefe exactly what the response would be from the class that rules us. Both sides would use the tried and true political tactic of staying on message. They'd do this because it works! It's why our media LOVEs to comment about it. They treat staying on message the way baseball announcers talk about keeping your hands in the hitting zone.
“Well Bob the Clinton campaign has done a masterful job of staying on message and not letting anything shift them from that.”
It doesnt matter WHAT the message is. All that matters is that you repeat that message ad nauseum. Forever.
The political Right immedietly and incessantly pointed out that this was a terrorist attack. And that's true. But they refused to admit it was ANYTHING other than a terroirst attack. Pam Bondy, the Florida attorney genral who has wasted Florida tax dollars trying to prove that gay marriage does tangible harm to Floridians was the most noxious example of this. It didn't matter that the victims were gay, it didn't matter they crime was done with a firearm, it didn't matter that the person doing the crime was just the latest example of the phenomena of the carnage being done by socially isolated young men and the rage our culture fills them with. It certainlly didn't bear examining the Homophobia that results from generations of mainstream poitical discourse actually arguing about whether lgbt people deserve full human rights. No, what mattered was terrorism.
Even if we agreed with this. Even if we could be that reductive. What would then follow was an actual examination of this tactic, what's caused it, what has and hasnt worked fighting it historically and what we can do better going forward.
But that's also off the table. Because the truth is the same political and cultural elite has been in power for going on 70 years now. And not only have they not licked this problem. They've made it worse. To admit that this terrorism is a direct response to the Wests foreign policy is not possible. Because THESE very people and their bi-partisan consensus on interventionist foreign policy is what gave you this terrorism. And if you realized that you sure as fuck wouldn't let them be the ones to solve it would you?
This is natural. None of us wants to really examine our own failings. IT sucks. I know because I'll be getting to my own personal failings tommorow.
But first lets take a look over at the elite lefts response. I nailed this one to a T as well.
The Pulse massacre really had absolutely nothng to do with terrorism! Remember now, the cause of terrorism is a result of the decades long bi partisan consensus on foreign policy. The Clintons and Barrack Obama and Jimmy Carter and Brezynski are just as responsible for this as the other side is. They both own it and no one wants to really touch it because the solutions to that begin with a very uncomfortable confession to the American people and a radical reimagining of The West's role in the world.
So no, The Pulse massacre was caused by guns. And the crazy people who want guns. And the fact that people on no fly lists can buy guns. Nevermind that almonst none of the mass shootings would have been stopped by any of the lefts gun reforms. Nevermind that France has gun restrictions that are a political leftists wet dream and they still had Paris. Nevermind that prohibitions on guns will go about as well as a prohibtions on prostitution and drugs and alcohol and gambling.
And certainly don't point out that “IF you aren't safe enough to fly you aren't safe enough to buy a gun,” is an absurd, innane and ineffectual position. First off you don't have a constituional right to air travel. I'm not totally comfortable with it either but the fact is the second right enshrined in the constitution is a right to bear arms.
This is a perfectly reasonable thing to enshrine coming from people who had read historys of feudalism and seen how well peasant revolts and political reform went when one side had cavalry and the other had ploughshares. An armed citzenry is less likely to be rolled over than an unarmed one. That's why the 2nd ammedment exists.
If it makes it easier for you on the left let me do a little word game. Subsitute “speak” for “buy a gun”
If you're too dangerous to fly you're too dangerous to have free speech. See? That's no so good huh?
And must I point out that these very lists have been loathed by civil rights advocates on the left and the right since their creation? Weren't we all sharing facebook posts about children and congressmen and leftist activists being on the no fly lists? Is the left ACTUALLY advocating that a barely constitional list, completely opaque with almost no formal appeals process is a swell way to deny people one of their constitional rights? Because that's horrifying to someone like me who has read the history of the Federal Government and the lists they make. No thank you.
The first step to getting past this ridiculous situation is admitiing the other side is not completely populated by neanderthals. And before you say “we don't want to ban guns just assault rifles,” please go read some of the lefts writing and speeches. I'm all for common sense gun reform if everyone can agree. But I'm not ok with distilling a complex tragedy down to one issue fo rthe sake of passing a reform that may be unconstutional and at best would have meant slightly less death.
And so what happens is another, perfect opportunity to have a broad and complex discussion that amazingly touches on several of the most pressing issues facing us as a people (terrorism, LGBT rights, homophobia, mental health issues, domestic abuse, and alienated young men and the terror they can cause when they become completely isolated) is reduced to a fucking absurd binary discussion meant to serve the electoral needs of a political class that got us in this position in the first place.
And here is where I need to comment about something so fudamental to us but something that's never examined in any depth at all. Fear. Fear is what motivates our actions on a personal level and a political level. That's natural too! Governance is the mechanism by which we adress the things we don't want to happen. But I'm going to pose a question to myself and I'm going to ask that you do the same.
Would I be any less devastated if Okeefe, Maggie, Josefine and Ike were killed by a terrorst at Disney world than I would be if they were eaten by an alligator? Or in an auto accident? Or by a cancer I couldn't afford to treat?
I don't think I can say that's true. You may be thinking? So what? Does that mean we don't do anyting? No. I used to be much more of a nihlist. I used to actually say outloud “Whatya gonna do?” It was almost my catchphrase. And it came from the fact that I honestly believed there was nothing we could do. I had been ground to hoplessness by our culture. But then I started reading history and getting older and thinking a bit more clearly. And I came to a stupendous realization. I literally discovered that I was COMPLETELY wrong. It's probably the first time that's ever happened (I'm a teensy bit arrogant btw).
It turns out that you can solve EVERYTHING. It's simply a matter of what you're willing to do.
The Catholic church was able to brutally repress any thinking it thought hertical for hundreds of years. That's an amazing achievement! Perhaps one of the most impressive in history.
SO I can solve every single problem facing America. Ready? Traffic deaths? The new national speed limit is 10 miles an hour. Anyone caught going above ten miles an hour is put to death immedietaly and publicly.
Homophobia? There is now a $1,000,000 reward for turning in anyone you think may harbor homophobic thoughts. They will be put instantly to death.
Mass shootings? Anyone caught creating, owning, selling or buying a firearm shall be put to death with all their friends and family.
Islamic extremeism? We shall immedieately launch the entire nuclear arsenal at any nation that produces a person who commmits an act of terrorism. This is backdated so much of the middle east goes already.
It wouldn't take long to live in a very very safe world if we had the will to create that world. It would require we relinquish any pretensions of morality or religion and any civil rights or privacy but within a couple of genrations we would live in a world dramatcaly more “safe”.
Why don't we do that? Because the cost is greater than the gain.
We've been fighting the drug war for 80 years. And we've gone as far as our cultural identity will let us with draconian solutions but it's not even close to far enough. Anyone caught with an illegal drug will be put to death with all his family. That problem will then be solved in short order.
There are always solutions. But to half measures don't work. We, as a people are going to have to come to grips that if we want a world of individual liberty we will have a world of less personal safety.
We've got to realize that in a country of over 350,000,000 people 50 deaths, while an UNIMAGINABLE tragedy is simply not a good reason to begin dismantiling civil liberties or constitonal rights. WE need to realize that while terrorism and gun violence is a serious problem far far far few people are killed by terrorists than are killed driving. Far fewer people are murdered by guns than are killed by a lack of access to health care. And nobody is advocating dismantling the constition to tackle those problems.
Finally if I can leave you with two nuggets of wisdom today let it be these.
- YOU ARE NOT SAFE. You never were. Nobody ever has been. But you're safe enough. The government is always at it's absolute worst when solving problems during panic moments. If you want to actually be safer? Wear your seatbelt. Stop eating red meat. Advocate for an actual social safety net. Because your odds of being murdered with a gun are miniscule next to your odds of dying in an auto accident, or by medical error, or by health issues caused by your lifestyle.
- The people who disagree with you are not monsters. They have reasonable positions. And they have wisdom to share with you. Conservatives have some good ideas too. And for many of them (not politicians of course, those guys suck) their oppostion to the lefts gun reform ideas are because what the left has offered would do all of bupkis to solve the problems they are trying to address.
I'll be back with my Brexit thoughts soon.
Pliny the Welder.