The horrifying school shooting yesterday fills me with sadness and anger, as it clearly does most of us. The tragedy is exacerbated by reading the usual knee-jerk responses that come from the right.
In an unfunny irony, earlier this week one of my conservative christian relatives inexplicably forwarded me a circulating email with the subject “A Profound and Articulate Argument,” by some military guy who writes that the weak/good people need guns to protect them from mugging and attacks by strong/bad people. (BTW, how can more guns be a christly position?) Of course attacks happen more than they should, but never as often as fear-mongering gun nuts claim. Over in places like Foxnewsville, they missed the memo that violent crime has been decreasing, down 15% since 2007, per FBI stats.
To that email forward, to violent, gun-loving American culture, I borrow from Katie J.M. Baker on Jezebel and say FUCK YOU GUNS.
Then there’s talk about mental illness, and the need for more treatment. I agree we desperately need that. And while we don’t know if this particular mass murderer was mentally ill, that malady is clearly a factor for MOST of the mass killers in recent memory.
The characteristics that ALL these murderers share are whiteness and masculinity. Women and people of color in this country suffer from mental illnesses too, but there’s only one group of Americans for which it too often manifests in murders of families and/or innocent strangers.
America has a gender role and white privilege crisis. Traditional definitions of masculinity have been ratcheted up: get angry not sad, direct it out not in, go out in a blaze of glory, take no prisoners, die motherfucker! Be a man and don’t act like a weak faggot or girl. Dominate.
Add to that the bloody history of white privilege in the US—a powerful racial privilege that is denied if ever acknowledged, a privilege that is expected, and which every institution in America has functioned to perpetuate. What we get then is a category of people (OF COURSE not all whites, not all men), for whom disappointment, pain, neurosis or psychosis is bound to come out in violent actions towards OTHERS.
A whole segment of media and institutions is devoted to glorifying violent white manliness as well as inciting resentment (fear) of those uppity women and “minorities” who are (supposedly) displacing the poor white guys from their rightful perches of power.
Shame on all the people promoting these ideologies of hate and violence—unacknowledged fear. Shame on the makers of ubiquitous products, media, games, wars that promote this shit. Shame on an economic system built around conquest, exploitation of people and nature, division, wealth accumulation, competition, selfishness, and a mythic individualism.
Shame on us for (literally) buying into any part of this culture of evil. Ironically for Mr. Military Man of the forwarded email, the very gender/racial privilege that he no doubt helps promote is what creates his whole weak/strong dichotomy that requires more guns.
Once again, most of us are grieving for the children and families mowed down by killing machines, metal and human. I’m sending love and empathy to everyone in Newtown, and everyone in any kind of pain in the world, wishing it would manifest in healing and not more pain.