Monday, May 21, 2018

Firearms and Terrorism in the USA

– 1 –

“I don’t even want to send my kid to school anymore. I’m not joking.” – tweet, @DrPsyBuffy
“It's been happening everywhere, I always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here too.” – Paige Curry, Santa Fe High School student.
So here we have it. America’s parents and schoolchildren are a population as scared as any in a country where terrorism is routine.
School shootings are stochastic terrorism, enabled by the easy availability of semi-automatic weapons in the USA and the failure of socialization of men. The events themselves are semi-random. What is not random at all is the easy availability of firearms and the propaganda that exacerbates all manner of fear in order to sell weapons. First, of course, firearms manufacturers want to sell more firearms; they have contributed millions to the NRA and “The NRA does the bulk of lobbying for the industry.” Second, there was the 1977 radical-right takeover of the NRA. The new NRA leadership was and is racist and misogynist. They are fine with firearms as long as white men have them; everyone else, they would rather … not.
But this campaign to distribute firearms as widely as possible and the firearms industry’s endless advertising validating use of lethal force, has empowered an unexpected group, unexpected because the NRA leadership and weapon sellers did not realize it even existed in significant numbers: racist and misogynist terrorists.
Our children and their teachers have been and are being terrorized. But there might be worse to come.

– 2 –
In the afterword of Alt America, entitled “Fascism and Our Future,” David Neiwert, a journalistic expert on the modern US radical right, addresses the question of whether Trump/Republican movement is fascist. His discussion is worthwhile, and I recommend the whole book, but I want to draw your attention to the following:
[…] fascists have, in the past, always relied upon an independent, movement-driven paramilitary force capable of intimidating their opponents with various types of thuggery. […] Members of various white-supremacist organizations and bona fide paramilitary organizations such as the Oath Keepers and the Three Percent movement are avid Trump backers. Trump has never made known any desire to form an alliance with or to make use of such groups. (p.  364.)
One cannot, however, assume this will last, or that other members of this administration or state or local officials have no such desire; indeed, it is likely that many do. Should that time come, as in past fascist movements, the racist and misogynist terrorists who are now terrorizing our schools will provide ready and well-armed participants. It will not be a well-regulated militia; as with historical fascist paramilitaries, it will be more of an armed rabble, but a terrifyingly well-armed rabble with excellent modern communications technology.
It would take time to organize such a thing, and there would be substantial opposition, especially from girls and women, who are after all targets of a misogynist group, so I think – I hope – there is not an immediate threat. (On the other hand, many white women might be persuaded that a paramilitary force will protect them, so perhaps the opposition will be less than I expect.) Still, if we do not begin to defuse this, by restricting the civilian availability of battlefield weapons and perhaps addressing the social issues that fuel the terrorism, it will be a continuing threat.

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