MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's now just one of those everyday occurences that we have become accustomed to, like reading the sports pages to see what teams won and lost.
Only, in the United States it's about who lost their lives in the ever unfolding toll of people shot to death -- or seriously injured -- with guns. Heck, it's really just filler for the newspaper or evening news now:
A 14-year-old Colorado girl mistaken for a burglar was shot and killed by her stepfather early on Monday morning at the home they shared, police said.
Police in Colorado Springs were called to respond to a report of a burglary on the city's north side and arrived at the scene to find the girl gravely injured from a gunshot wound, according to a police statement.
The girl was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, said police spokesman Larry Herbert.
There are countless variations: mass school shootings, domestic violence killings with guns, arguments over traffic accidents, accidental fatalities among young people, suicides, mall attacks -- and don't forget the casually reported, socially accepted decimation of minority communities by gunfire as if it was as culturally normal as buying groceries.
There are so many American men who love their guns; so many organizations such as the NRA who enrich themselves from fanning the fears of "besieged" white males and goosing up their "manhood"; so many industries and retail shops that make money selling firearms; and a national history of white Europeans conquering the "heathen Indians" and keeping black slaves in check with plantation artilleries.
In a scintillating discussion of the sociology and psychology of guns in America with historian Richard Slotkin, Bill Moyers pulls back with a scalpel the cranium of gun fanatics to reveal a white male culture that needs -- in psychological desperation -- firearms and the power that they hold to potentially kill "the outsider" or the person against whom one holds a griveance. It is a privileged status to carry a loaded gun around, a sense of self-validation -- or alternatively viewed as an extremely lethal form of incendiary selfishness.
One side of the coin is this: the gun owners of America who have turned this nation into a shooting gallery in which 30,000 people die a year see the gun as empowering them with manhood and providing them with a great equalizer. The other side of the coin views the gripping need for a gun as a sign of male weakness, that one cannot be a man without a firearm, that one fears losing one's masculinity without owning and carrying a device that can kill someone with one pull of the trigger.
This is the psychological portrait of a nation that has a minority of its males psychotic about guns, emotionally attached to them as represented by the slogan, "I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands." One, nobody is even remotely discussing confiscating handguns (although that would not be a bad idea in many cases); and two, in this age of drone and hi-tech warfare, what couch potato handgun permit holder is going to battle the US military (following the paranoic anti-government militia line of thinking). No one would have to pry any gun lover's gun from his hands; it would be vaporized before he got a round fired off.
Reading this past week about how it is still extremely difficult to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill in many states raises the question: have we crossed the threshold so far on virtual gun anarchy that the armed lunatics are running the asylum?
Although the gun problem is from a practical standpoint one of profiteering, open access, and self-serving lobbying organizations, it really is a state of mind. The white male feels more and more marginalized and endangered, more and more surrounded by hostile forces from minorities, women and reduced economic circumstances.
What Richard Slotkin tells Bill Moyers in talking about Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, applies to so many of the thousands of garden variety gun guys who cross the line and we daily read about or see in a voyeuristic news flash on TV:
And that image of playing out a script that's been written for you, that has some value for you as a way of gaining control or being a hero is what he's living out....
And I'll say John Wayne-- he wasn't necessarily my hero, but he's the type of a kind of hero that I admired. And we played guns in the street. You'd start off-- guns were-- you were cowboys. You'd segue without a break into marines and you'd segue into cops and robbers. But the gun was the thing you were playing with....He's reaching for a historically validated model that will somehow invest what he's doing with meaning.
Which brings us to the fate of all those out of work folks who get seasonal jobs as Santa Clauses at department stores across the land.
Few readers are not aware of FOX's Megyn Kelly insisting Santa Claus is white (uh, like there is a real Santa Claus, Megyn?) -- then recanting it, sort of.
That got the right wing racist amen choir rallying around Kelly, including Neil Boortz:
Herman Cain radio show guest host Neal Boortz speaks to a caller who called to complain that Kelly had been criticized after she recently said that both Santa and Jesus Christ were white men.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, Santa Claus is white!” Boortz exclaims. “Okay? Deal with it!”
“Everything has got to be black now, it doesn’t matter what it is,” the caller laments.
“You know, I’m going to scream and complain because Martin Luther King is always portrayed as black,” Boortz quips. “It just ain’t right.”
It would be easy to be accused of pushing at the edge of the envelope here to argue that this typical FOX racial insult has anything to do with guns, but it does. When a FOX "news star" such as Kelly tosses out that Santa Claus is white, she is implying that what is good, generous, peaceful and associated with gifts is of white skin color. She even got in that Jesus was white, although being of the Middle East he was likely more swarthy than creme colored and blonde like Kelly.
The gun guys, such as George Zimmerman, who attribute all virtue and civilized standards to being white (even though Zimmerman is of mixed color heritage and has been accused at least twice recently of beating up women close to him, having an apparent anger and violence management problem of a serious nature), are armed and ready to self-validate their own inner demons by shooting "the other." This is what the gun psychologically provides them with: a false sense of self, a manhood dependent upon a hand held weapon that shoots projectiles that kills people.
So, although one can only hope this won't come to pass, the white male Megyn Kelly groupies may find in their maelstrom of confused sense of identity that no Santa Claus should be black, and that the heroic act to undertake is to shoot one to "take back" America and Christmas.
Guns among white males are generally -- but not exclusively (there are indeed hunters and sport range shooters) -- a psychological life vest. But the end result is death, over 300,000 Americans killed by guns one way or another in a decade.
Some white Santas in states like Arizona are packing heat right now, we suspect. We hope that they don't leave the safety off -- and accidentally send a Tommy or Allyson, seeking a special Christmas wish, to the hospital with a bullet wound.