14 October 2017

A Response of Shaun King and Others on the Las Vegas Massacre

Despite killing 59 people and wounding 527 in a fusillade of gunfire that lasted nearly ten minutes, Stephen Paddock was not a terrorist.  At least as far as we know at this time.  He sowed terror, no doubt, as did the Son of Sam, but neither of the two left any sort of manifesto or even single statement detailing political motives, or motives of any kind, for that matter.  A political motive is what separates a terrorist from a generic mass murderer.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

About two weeks before the Las Vegas massacre, Emanuel Kidega Samson, a Sudan-born legal resident and apparently practising Christian, walked into Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, to which he had once belonged, and sprayed it with gunfire after shooting down one of the parishioners in the parking lot.  No reputable news source referred to Samson as a terrorist, despite the fact that he is non-native and non-white.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

A little over two years ago, a Palestinian-American named Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez attacked two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was at first branded as a “terrorist”.  However, investigation quickly showed that Mohammad, a graduate of a local high school and of the city’s university, had been suffering from severe depression and bipolar disorder accompanied with abuse of several different substances, and by the end of the week, local authorities and media were talking about him more as a long wolf who had a mental breakdown.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

About a year later, Omar Mateen, an Afghani-American U.S. citizen, walked into The Pulse nighclub in Orlando, Florida, an establishment catering primarily to the gay community, and killed 49 people and wounded 58 with gunfire.  Though at the time he swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, spiritual leader of Daesh or ISIS, and claimed to be part of the mujahadeen, investigation turned up no prior connection between Mateen and al-Baghdadi or any other part of Daesh, so the claims were dismissed and this brown-skinned immigrant citizen of Middle Eastern origin was labelled a “lone wolf” by both law enforcement and reputable media sources.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

Each of these shooters was a “lone wolf”, and has been described as such by both law enforcement and media sources.  A “lone wolf” is someone acting outside of an organization on their own.  Many of the recent terror attacks in Europe have been carried out by just such “lone wolves” and have been referred to as such by law enforcement and media at the time.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

Andreas Breivek, who killed 77 and wounded 319 people in Norway, targeting the Norwegian Labour Party, was another such “lone wolf”.  However, since he most definitely carried out his atrocity for definite political reasons, he without a doubt fits the definition of a “terrorist” and was called such by law enforcement and media sources at the time.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

The Wounded Knee Massacre carried out by troopers of the U.S. 7th Cavalry was a mass murder inflicted almost entirely with gunfire but is different than what is now called a “mass shooting” on several accounts.  First, it was carried out by agents of the state, not a single private individual; second, there were many more shooters than a single individual or couple of individuals; third, it counts more as a genocide.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

While the mass killings of African Americans such as those in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Rosewood, Florida, and Philips County, Arkansas, involved a lot of gunfire, those were perpetrated by mobs, sometimes with their intended victims returning fire in self-defense and often lasted more than a whole day.  Hate crimes?  Yes.  Genocide?  Yes.  Mass shootings, in the modern sense of the word?  Nope, not unless you’re an ally of the NRA trying to draw attention from the catastrophes caused by their change in direction with the beginning of their acceptance of money from the arms industry’s merchants of death.  Sorry about that, Mr. King.

The reason white people, or really any other variety of human native to or legally resident in the United States is not charged as “terrorists” is because the federal government has no statute that covers such incidents.  That is an omission that should be corrected, along with establishing Australian levels of gun control to stop our ongoing Holocaust of each other.  One Nation Under Fire, from each other and from the police.

05 October 2017

Vegas, the Pledge, the Anthem, and Black Lives

On the evening of Sunday, 1 October, a single human in Las Vegas, Nevada, using his arsenal of assault rifles with extended clips, killed 59 other humans and wounded 527 more humans, making 586 human victims in all, in the space of about 10 minutes.  That same amount of time is roughly equivalent to one of my pieces for a Left Ungagged podcast.  So, remember that number, 586, and let’s start counting: one, two, three, four…to be continued.

This mass shooting was brought to you by the archaic and badly misinterpreted Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the National Rifle Association, the Federalist Society, the conservative wing of the Supreme Court, the Republican Party, the Christian Right, and American ammosexuals from sea to shining sea.  To these individuals and groups, Second Amendment rights and the rights to profit of the arms industry’s merchants of death count more than the rights to life, health, and safety and freedom from fear of his victims.  Don’t be surprised if one day the government alters the U.S. national motto to “There is no god but Profit and Ayn Rand is its Prophet”; in the name of truth in advertising, of course.

By 1426 EDT on today, 4 October, there had been 46,873 shooting incidents leaving 11,725 people dead by gunfire and 23,795 people wounded by gunfire in the USA in 2017.  The Christian Dominionist words “under God” inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance after the phrase “one Nation” should be changed to “under fire”.  Because that’s what the USA is; one nation under fire.  Or, to put it another way, “Houston, we have a problem”.

The Pledge of Allegiance, by the way, originated as nothing more than a sales gimmick.  Its author, Francis Bellamy wrote it and devised the ritual for its recitation for a campaign by the mail order company he worked for to sell flags to every school in the country.  He introduced the Pledge on Columbus Day in 1892, which is fitting from pretty much any point of view.  The method Bellamy prescribed for saluting the flag during recitation of his pledge was with a stiff right arm palm down fingers pointed to the flag, a gesture that became quite familiar in Europe during the 1930s, and now you know the true origin of that salute.

Until Bellamy’s campaign, the only institutions which flew the national flag were buildings of the federal government and military and naval installations.  Within a few years, nearly every school in the United States had its own flag to which its children were marched out and lined up daily to pledge their loyalty and submission to American imperial capitalism.

Francis’ cousin Edward Bellamy wrote America’s third best selling novel of the 19th century novel published in 1887 called Looking Backward, a utopian science fiction conception of a completely socialized America a century later that launched a primarily bourgeois socialist movement which swept the country.  Locals were called Nationalist Clubs and the philosophy of the movement became known as Nationalism, in this case meaning the Nation, as in the people, against Capital.  This is the first known link of nationalism with socialism.

Looking Backward is not the only fictional work to launch a movement.  In 1905,  Thomas Dixon published the novel The Clansman, a highly romanticized view of the post-Civil War Reconstruction and of the Ku Klux Klan.  In 1915, D.W. Griffith turned it into the pioneering film The Birth of a Nation.  Besides being the first film ever shown in the White House and leaving the very racist President Woodrow Wilson in tears, it inspired a group of anti-Semitic terrorists known as the Knights of Mary Phagan to reorganize themselves as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.  The latter organization was established at the future site of candidate Bill Clinton’s “tough-on-crime” speech in Stone Mountain, Georgia, during the 1992 Democratic primaries standing in front of row upon row of Afro-American inmates from the nearby prison.

In 1899, the US Navy adopted the Star-Spangled Banner as its official song.  Racist-in-Chief Wilson adopted it for military occasions in 1916, and the National Baseball League started playing it at the World Series in 1918.  To distract the nation from the stock market crash and Great Depression in 1929, a movement began to adopt the Star-Spangled Banner as the USA’s official national anthem.  It culminated in 1931 with President Herbert Hoover, signing the law making it so.  The anthem did not become standard before all baseball games until World War II, and while it’s been played before football games since the same time, players never appeared on the field for it until the 2009 season, when Barack Obama’s Department of Defense began paying money to the National Football League (that’s “football” as in American football, not what we Yanks call soccer) for them to do so.

Which takes us partly back to the beginning of this piece so we can move forward.  Of the 11,725 people killed and 23,795 people wounded by gunfire in the USA thus far  in 2017, 1,560 of those people were shot by cops, with 908 victims of police homicide dying by gunfire or some other means, a disproportionate number of them people of color, mostly black.  That bodycount is the original reason for the “take a knee” protests started last year by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, now spreading across the NFL and spilling over into Major League Baseball as well as college and high school football.

Pastor John Pavlovitz suggested that if your immediate response to the shooting of a man or woman of color is to try and justify why he or she is dead instead of asking why they were shot, you are part of the problem.  Think of Trump’s statement after Charlottesville that “there was violence on both sides, both sides”.  Think of every time when a person of color was gunned down by a trigger happy cop when Obama invariably said, “We don’t have all the facts yet.  We don’t really know what happened”, even though there were almost always dozens of witnesses and/or video of the event.

To those in power, and to too many juries in America, blue lives always matter more than black, no matter what the complexion of their own skin may be.  The very reason for the slogan “Black Lives Matter”, according to Alicia Garza, is because to in America, especially to those in power, they don’t, even though they should.

This morning in their weekly meeting, the commissioners of Hamilton County in Tennessee voted along party lines to keep the bust of Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart, wearing his Confederate uniform, on the courthouse lawn right in front of the main door.  True, after the war, Stewart, a distant relative of mine, played a huge role in the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park for its first 25 years, but having his statue on our county’s front lawn with him in the uniform of an army that attacked this country is a bit like having a statue of Kurt Waldheim is his Waffen SS uniform on the front lawn of the United Nations because of his service as secretary-general. 

It would not surprise me a bit if next week the commission passes a resolution supporting the NRA’s view of the outdated Second Amendment, which is in serious and urgent need of repeal.

…581, 582, 583, 584, 585, 586.