Category Archives: Guns

Authoritarians Drunk on Power: It Is Time to Recalibrate the Government

The executive power in our government is not the only, perhaps not even the principal, object of my solicitude. The tyranny of the legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come. The tyranny of the executive power will come in its turn, but at a more distant period.

― Thomas Jefferson, (Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville(

It is time to recalibrate the government.

For years now, we have suffered the injustices, cruelties, corruption and abuse of an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution or the rights of the citizenry.

By “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.

We are overdue for a systemic check on the government’s overreaches and power grabs.

We have lingered too long in this strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

This COVID-19 pandemic has provided the government with the perfect excuse to lay claim to a long laundry list of terrifying lockdown powers (at both the federal and state level) that override the Constitution: the ability to suspend the Constitution, indefinitely detain American citizens, bypass the courts, quarantine whole communities or segments of the population, override the First Amendment by outlawing religious gatherings and assemblies of more than a few people, shut down entire industries and manipulate the economy, muzzle dissidents, reshape financial markets, create a digital currency (and thus further restrict the use of cash), determine who should live or die, and impose health mandates on large segments of the population.

These kinds of crises tend to bring out the authoritarian tendencies in government.

That’s no surprise: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Where we find ourselves now is in the unenviable position of needing to rein in all three branches of government—the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative—that have exceeded their authority and grown drunk on power.

This is exactly the kind of concentrated, absolute power the founders attempted to guard against by establishing a system of checks of balances that separate and shares power between three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.

“The system of checks and balances that the Framers envisioned now lacks effective checks and is no longer in balance,” concludes law professor William P. Marshall. “The implications of this are serious. The Framers designed a system of separation of powers to combat government excess and abuse and to curb incompetence. They also believed that, in the absence of an effective separation-of-powers structure, such ills would inevitably follow. Unfortunately, however, power once taken is not easily surrendered.”

Unadulterated power in any branch of government is a menace to freedom.

There’s no point debating which political party would be more dangerous with these powers.

The fact that any individual—or branch of government—of any political persuasion is empowered to act like a dictator is danger enough.

So what can we do to wrest back control over a runaway government and an imperial presidency?

It won’t be easy.

We are the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority.

This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government: from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often than not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations.

We are ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the travails of the average American.

We are viewed as relatively expendable in the eyes of government: faceless numbers of individuals who serve one purpose, which is to keep the government machine running through our labor and our tax dollars. Those in power aren’t losing any sleep over the indignities we are being made to suffer or the possible risks to our health. All they seem to care about are power and control.

We are being made to suffer countless abuses at the government’s hands.

We have little protection against standing armies (domestic and military), invasive surveillance, marauding SWAT teams, an overwhelming government arsenal of assault vehicles and firepower, and a barrage of laws that criminalize everything from vegetable gardens to lemonade stands.

In the name of national security, we’re being subjected to government agencies such as the NSA, FBI and others listening in on our phone calls, reading our mail, monitoring our emails, and carrying out warrantless “black bag” searches of our homes. Adding to the abuse, we have to deal with surveillance cameras mounted on street corners and in traffic lights, weather satellites co-opted for use as spy cameras from space, and thermal sensory imaging devices that can detect heat and movement through the walls of our homes.

That doesn’t even begin to touch on the many ways in which our Fourth Amendment rights are trampled upon by militarized police and SWAT teams empowered to act as laws unto themselves.

In other words, freedom—or what’s left of it—is threatened from every direction.

The predators of the police state are wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers are shooting unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents—including local police—are being armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies are fleecing taxpayers. Government technicians are spying on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors are making a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

In other words, the American police state is alive and well and flourishing.

Nothing has changed, and nothing will change unless we insist on it.

We have arrived at the dystopian future depicted in the 2005 film V for Vendetta, which is no future at all.

Set in the year 2020, V for Vendetta (written and produced by the Wachowskis) provides an eerie glimpse into a parallel universe in which a government-engineered virus wreaks havoc on the world. Capitalizing on the people’s fear, a totalitarian government comes to power that knows all, sees all, controls everything and promises safety and security above all.

Concentration camps (jails, private prisons and detention facilities) have been established to house political prisoners and others deemed to be enemies of the state. Executions of undesirables (extremists, troublemakers and the like) are common, while other enemies of the state are made to “disappear.” Populist uprisings and protests are met with extreme force. The television networks are controlled by the government with the purpose of perpetuating the regime. And most of the population is hooked into an entertainment mode and are clueless.

Sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it?

As director James McTeighe observed about the tyrannical regime in V for Vendetta, “It really showed what can happen when society is ruled by government, rather than the government being run as a voice of the people. I don’t think it’s such a big leap to say things like that can happen when leaders stop listening to the people.”

Clearly, our leaders have stopped listening to the American people.

We are—and have been for some time—the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority. This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government—from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often than not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations.

We are ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the travails of the average American. We are relatively expendable in the eyes of government—faceless numbers of individuals who serve one purpose, which is to keep the government machine running through our labor and our tax dollars.

What will it take for the government to start listening to the people again?

In V for Vendetta, as in my new novel The Erik Blair Diaries, it takes an act of terrorism for the people to finally mobilize and stand up to the government’s tyranny: in Vendetta, V the film’s masked crusader blows up the seat of government, while in Erik Blair, freedom fighters plot to unmask the Deep State.

These acts of desperation and outright anarchy are what happens when a parasitical government muzzles the citizenry, fences them in, herds them, brands them, whips them into submission, forces them to ante up the sweat of their brows while giving them little in return, and then provides them with little to no outlet for voicing their discontent: people get desperate, citizens lose hope, and lawful, nonviolent resistance gives way to unlawful, violent resistance.

This way lies madness.

Then again, this madness may be unavoidable unless we can wrest back control over our runaway government starting at the local level.

How to do this? It’s not rocket science.

There is no 10-step plan. If there were a 10-step plan, however, the first step would be as follows: turn off the televisions, tune out the politicians, and do your part to stand up for freedom principles in your own communities.

Stand up for your own rights, of course, but more importantly, stand up for the rights of those with whom you might disagree. Defend freedom at all costs. Defend justice at all costs. Make no exceptions based on race, religion, creed, politics, immigration status, sexual orientation, etc. Vote like Americans, for a change, not Republicans or Democrats.

Most of all, use your power—and there is power in our numbers—to nullify anything and everything the government does that undermines the freedom principles on which this nation was founded.

Don’t play semantics. Don’t justify. Don’t politicize it. If it carries even a whiff of tyranny, oppose it. Demand that your representatives in government cut you a better deal, one that abides by the Constitution and doesn’t just attempt to sidestep it.

That’s their job: make them do it.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, all freedoms hang together. They fall together, as well.

The police state does not discriminate. Eventually, we will all suffer the same fate.

The post Authoritarians Drunk on Power: It Is Time to Recalibrate the Government first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Second Amendment’s Right to Bear Arms: What It Means

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

— The Second Amendment to the US Constitution

You can largely determine where a person will fall in the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment based on their view of government and the role it should play in our lives.

In the first group are those who see the government as a Nanny State, empowered to look out for the best interests of the populace, even when that means overriding our rights as individuals and free will.

These individuals tend to interpret the Second Amendment to mean that only members of law enforcement and the military are entitled to own a gun. Case in point: President Biden recently (and wrongly) asserted that “the Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people who could own a gun and what type of weapon you could own. You couldn’t buy a cannon.”

In the second group are those who see the government as inherently corrupt.

These individuals tend to view the Second Amendment as a means of self-defense, whether that involves defending themselves against threats to their freedoms or threats from individuals looking to harm them. For instance, eleven men were recently arrested for traveling on the interstate with unlicensed guns that were not secured in a case. The group, reportedly associated with a sovereign citizens group, claimed to be traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for militia training.

And then there is a third group, made up of those who view the government as neither good nor evil, but merely a powerful entity that, as Thomas Jefferson recognized, must be bound “down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” To this group, the Second Amendment’s assurance of the people’s right to bear arms is no different from any other right enshrined in the Constitution: to be safeguarded, exercised prudently and maintained.

How to exercise this right is the question that keeps jockeying for supremacy before the U.S. Supreme Court. After declaring more than a decade ago that citizens have a Second Amendment right to own a gun in one’s home for self-defense, the Court has now been tasked with deciding whether the Constitution also protects the right to carry a gun outside the home. The case, NY State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Corlett, takes issue with a state law that requires a license in order to carry a concealed gun outside the home.

On the heels of Corlett is another legal challenge to the state’s authority to regulate—or ban outright—gun ownership outside the home. The attorneys general of 21 states—including Louisiana, Arizona, Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming—have filed an amicus brief in Young v. Hawaii asking the Supreme Court to uphold Hawaiians’ Second Amendment rights to bear arms outside their homes.

Unfortunately, while the various federal circuit courts of appeal continue to disagree over the exact nature of the rights protected by the Second Amendment, the government itself has made its position extremely clear.

When it comes to gun rights in particular, and the rights of the citizenry overall, the U.S. government has adopted a “do what I say, not what I do” mindset. Nowhere is this double standard more evident than in the government’s attempts to arm itself to the teeth, all the while viewing as suspect anyone who dares to legally own a gun, let alone use one in self-defense.

Indeed, while it still technically remains legal to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled over, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at, and killed. (This same rule does not apply to law enforcement officials, however, who are armed to the hilt and rarely given more than a slap on the wrists for using their weapons against unarmed individuals.)

Now the Biden Administration is setting its sights on gun control.

Mark my words: gun control legislation, especially in the form of red flag gun laws, which allow the police to remove guns from people “suspected” of being threats, will become yet another means by which to subvert the Constitution and sabotage the rights of the people.

Giving police the power to preemptively raid homes in order to neutralize a potential threat is a powder keg waiting for a lit match.

Under these red flag laws, what happened to Duncan Lemp—who was gunned down in his bedroom during an early morning, no-knock SWAT team raid on his family’s home—could very well happen to more people.

At 4:30 a.m. on March 12, 2020, in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that had most of the country under a partial lockdown and sheltering at home, a masked SWAT team—deployed to execute a “high risk” search warrant for unauthorized firearms—stormed the suburban house where 21-year-old Duncan, a software engineer and Second Amendment advocate, lived with his parents and 19-year-old brother.

The entire household, including Lemp and his girlfriend, was reportedly asleep when the SWAT team directed flash bang grenades and gunfire through Lemp’s bedroom window.

Lemp was killed and his girlfriend injured.

No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, had a criminal record.

No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, was considered an “imminent threat” to law enforcement or the public, at least not according to the search warrant.

So what was so urgent that militarized police felt compelled to employ battlefield tactics in the pre-dawn hours of a day when most people are asleep in bed, not to mention stuck at home as part of a nationwide lockdown?

According to police, they were tipped off that Lemp was in possession of “firearms.”

Thus, rather than approaching the house by the front door at a reasonable hour in order to investigate this complaint—which is what the Fourth Amendment requires—police instead strapped on their guns, loaded up their flash bang grenades and acted like battle-crazed warriors.

This is what happens when you adopt red flag gun laws, which Maryland did in 2018, painting anyone who might be in possession of a gun—legal or otherwise—as a threat that must be neutralized.

Meanwhile, the government’s efforts to militarize and weaponize its agencies and employees is reaching epic proportions, with federal agencies as varied as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration placing orders for hundreds of millions of rounds of hollow point bullets. Moreover, under the auspices of a military “recycling” program, which allows local police agencies to acquire military-grade weaponry and equipment, $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies since 1990. Included among these “gifts” are tank-like 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, tactical gear, and assault rifles.

Ironically, while the Biden administration’s gun control efforts have helped to spike gun sales nationally, the government has made no effort to curtail its own addiction to weapons of war, a significant number of which have conveniently been “lost” and used in violent crimes in communities across the U.S.

We’re talking about rifles, pistols, machine guns, shot guns, and grenades. Some of these weapons were lost through gross negligence. Others, however, were trafficked by military police.

The U.S. military boasts weapons the rest of the world doesn’t have, and it continues to develop even more weaponry, each deadlier than the last.

Make no mistake: every last one of these weapons will eventually make its way back to domestic police forces to be used against the American people.

Included in the government’s military arsenal are armed surveillance Reaper drones capable of reading a license plate from over two miles away; an AA12 Atchisson Assault Shotgun that can shoot five 12-gauge shells per second and “can fire up to 9,000 rounds without being cleaned or jamming”; an ADAPTIV invisibility cloak that can make a tank disappear or seemingly reshape it to look like a car; a PHASR rifle capable of blinding and disorienting anyone caught in its sights; a Taser shockwave that can electrocute a crowd of people at the touch of a button; an XM2010 enhanced sniper rifle with built-in sound and flash suppressors that can hit a man-sized target nine out of ten times from over a third of a mile away; and an XM25 “Punisher” grenade launcher that can be programmed to accurately shoot grenades at a target up to 500 meters away.

What the government has yet to acknowledge, however, is that its own gun violence—inflicted on unarmed individuals by battlefield-trained SWAT teams, militarized police, and bureaucratic government agents trained to shoot first and ask questions later—is not making America any safer.

Indeed, the U.S. government may be the most egregious perpetrator of gun violence in America, bar none.

All the while gun critics continue to clamor for bans on military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets, the U.S. military is passing them out to domestic police forces.

Under the auspices of a military “recycling” program, which allows local police agencies to acquire military-grade weaponry and equipment, more than $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies since 1990. Included among these “gifts” are tank-like, 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, tactical gear, and assault rifles.

There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government agents armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines.

While Americans have to jump through an increasing number of hoops in order to own a gun, the government is arming its own civilian employees to the hilt with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorizing them to make arrests, and training them in military tactics.

Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armor, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, IRS, FDA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities.

This is the double standard at play here.

How is it that while violence has become our government’s calling card, from the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans by heavily armed, black-garbed commandos and the increasingly rapid militarization of local police forces across the country to the drone killings used to target insurgents, “we the people” are the ones who must be regulated, restricted and banned from owning a weapon?

If we’re truly going to get serious about gun violence, why not start by scaling back the American police state’s weapons of war?

I’ll tell you why: because the government has no intention of scaling back on its weapons.

We’ve allowed ourselves to get so focused on debating who or what is responsible for gun violence—the guns, the gun owners, or our violent culture—and whether the Second Amendment “allows” us to own guns that we’ve overlooked the most important and most consistent theme throughout the Constitution: the fact that it is not merely an enumeration of our rights but was intended to be a clear shackle on the government’s powers.

When considered in the context of prohibitions against the government, the Second Amendment reads as a clear rebuke against any attempt to restrict the citizenry’s gun ownership.

As such, it is as necessary an ingredient for maintaining that tenuous balance between the citizenry and their republic as any of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, especially the right to freedom of speech, assembly, press, petition, security, and due process.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas understood this tension well. “The Constitution is not neutral,” he remarked, “It was designed to take the government off the backs of people.”

In this way, the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights in their entirety stand as a bulwark against a police state.

To our detriment, these rights have been steadily weakened, eroded and undermined in recent years. Yet without any one of them, including the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms, we are that much more vulnerable to the vagaries of out-of-control policemen, benevolent dictators, genuflecting politicians, and overly ambitious bureaucrats.

When all is said and done, the debate over gun ownership really has little to do with gun violence in America. It’s also not even a question of whether Americans need weapons to defend themselves against any overt threats to our safety or wellbeing.

Truly, the debate over gun ownership in America is really a debate over who gets to call the shots and control the game.

In other words, it’s that same tug-of-war that keeps getting played out in every confrontation between the government and the citizenry over who gets to be the master and who is relegated to the part of the servant.

The Constitution, with its multitude of prohibitions on government overreach, is clear on this particular point. As 20th century libertarian Edmund A. Opitz observed in 1964, “No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words ‘no’ and ‘not’ employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights.”

In a nutshell, as I make clear in Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms reflects not only a concern for one’s personal defense, but serves as a check on the political power of the ruling authorities.

It represents an implicit warning against governmental encroachments on one’s freedoms, the warning shot over the bow to discourage any unlawful violations of our persons or property.

As such, it reinforces that necessary balance in the citizen-state relationship. As George Orwell, who plays a starring role in my new novel The Erik Blair Diaries, noted, “That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

The post The Second Amendment’s Right to Bear Arms: What It Means first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fake Lower Class Coup, Real Upper Class Bigotry, Near  Social Collapse

A nation more seriously divided than in the 1960s when movements against war and racism pulled families and communities apart and drove some to drugs, drink, and worse, approaches a greater and more threatening social dissolution. When more than 74 million people can be reduced to “white supremacists” by alleged liberals with the same ease that past supposed conservatives were led to see a communist fiend behind every supporter of unity among people we are indeed in a time of all American hate crimes, thought crimes and worse. Those labels are being flung about by one or another bunch of hateful bigots, loving humanitarians or usually, both.

A unique occupier of the highest office in the national corporation was able to blunder, bumble and buy his way into the most egocentric and blatantly honest performance of what America really is as opposed to the fantasy drummed into our heads in what passes for our education in consumption mythology received at day care centers, grammar schools and the nation’s leading universities. Probably the most honest president in American history thus characterized as a liar by consciousness control because he speaks whatever little he thinks and is understandable to tens of millions who have no idea what the hell their government is doing other than ripping them off, his incredible egomania threatened minority rule by making it all too clear how rich, egotistical, murderous and dumb American rule is on the global stage. His victory was immediately attacked by ruling powers because of the threat he represented by exposing the reality of America as the egocentric brutal global force it is instead of the mythological land of the free and the brave reduced to murdering foreigners and consigning millions of citizens to poverty and waste only due to evil Russians or Chinese or Iranians while manipulating good people into the need for creating salvation for suffering immigrants who really represent cheap labor and greater profits for capital while poverty-stricken Americans grow in number by the microsecond.

The loud, boisterous and at moments truly violent demonstration protesting the rubber stamping of victory by acknowledging one of the worst aspects of fake democracy, the electoral college – previously opposed by the same sectors now genuflecting before this sacred aspect of our sacred democracy – has been transformed into an attack on all things sacred to Americans. This religious terminology is being used by agnostics, atheists, the allegedly sophisticated and the terminally dumb to describe what was threatened by this mob of disgruntled, confused and often dangerous to furniture as well as life demonstrators.

Given the near hysteria of ruling power expressed through its servant professional media class you would think they assaulted Wall Street or the handful of billionaires who dominate politics and economics in our “sacred” democracy, but, no, they just broke into the capital and mostly occupied themselves as many Americans do every day: taking selfies and carrying on like wasteful consumers. Mind management had it that “white supremacist “police were in league with the “white supremacist” invaders and even after it was learned that a “white supremacist” police officer had been murdered by the “white supremacist” mob and that a “white supremacist” woman had been murdered by the “white supremacist” police, this narrowing of a dreadfully critical social problem to one of identities continues the consciousness-controlling propaganda that wealth and class play no role in anything of substance.

There may be a massive demonstration by upper class feminists to protest the murder of the woman trumpist who was said to have voted for Obama in the previous election, before she became a “white supremacist”, but be advised not to hang by your lip waiting for that.

Some of the mob that broke away from the much larger crowd at Trump’s tortured logic speech which was said to have created the incident, (you know, the way Russia and China meddle in our business and politics) were armed and this may have been the most shocking part of the event enabling the programming hysterics to turn a seething mob into a bigger seething mob. Americans are the most armed population in the world, but the overwhelming majority of the legal gun bearers are not preparing to hold up a convenience store or murder a neighbor, though that certainly occupies lots of time and action among citizens of our “sacred” democracy. Actually these armed citizens are programmed to help the weapons market mostly to protect themselves and their families from the most fiendish menace ever known to humanity: Other Americans!

That weapons market is in the “sacred” constitution, according to some less than sacred constitutional scholars, but one man’s diverse profit is another woman’s diverse loss. Or vice versa, now that sexual equality in the market means instead of being limited to watching muscular men in their underwear beating the living crap out of one another on TV, we can watch muscular women in their underwear beating the living crap out of one another on TV. Isn’t our “sacred” democracy wonderful in its diversity?

Meanwhile, at the class bigotry mall where some dine on farm to table delicacy and others on taco pizza burgers, the fractured society of haves, and have-nots suffer a poverty of information and a wealth of ridiculous propaganda to keep their/our minds off real democracy in blind support of the atrocity of minority rule that passes for it by teaching that voting in an election and then going to sleep until the next one is what majority rule is all about. At a time when the nation is driven apart as never before the obvious ruling “democratic” strategy is to set more people against one another and thereby further prevent them from coming together and creating actual majority rule. That’s something that never existed for a moment in this nation’s history where the closest thing to democracy occurs in very small communities and even then most of the electorate doesn’t vote for whoever wins or loses.

The fear-mongering and hysterical over-reactions to individuals while remaining unconscious to a system infinitely more malevolent to people and nature will continue as the capitalist pandemic threatens far more than private profit in the creation of massive public loss. That loss is experienced by all the people save for the tiny minority of multi-millionaires and billionaires who grow richer daily and are now a diverse as never before mixture of people of color, no color, some color, multi-color, tri-color but essentially part of the tiny minority in control of a massive majority still being turned against one another for being people of color, no color, some color, etc., and kept from noticing we are the majority and will be ruled by a tiny minority until we realize what we have in common.

The fate of our nation and humanity will be lost if we don’t rise above these truly racist and bigoted rules of the rich, forced into our minds to keep them in charge and us blaming one another for being helpless. We need to learn how bi-partisan the ruling parties are, both owned by the rich and, save for a tiny handful, totally dedicated to survival of the system that makes some rich beyond imagination but most of us poorer in material, spiritual, psychological but most especially political economic reality.

We need to end the provoked war against one another and if we are to attack anyone, it should be the mass murdering thieves who preside over this fake democracy. Which is mostly why those 74 million are hardly “white supremacists” but people seriously wanting a better world and more democratic government that performs for all the people and not just some of them, which is what most of the 81 million who voted for the other system servant want as well. They/we need to start communicating with one another without the treacherous filters of the consciousness controllers and mind managers of corporate anti-social media, as well as their imitator flunkies on what passes for social media but is all too often an echo of the worst fantasy and supernatural idiocy from ruling class central.

As difficult as it may be, we need to start listening to the people and not simply those alleged to be speaking for the people, and then acting to create responsible government that looks out for all of us and not just some. That means a social revolution that doesn’t have us close to killing one another, which is what current nonsense about alleged coups and vendettas will lead us to if we don’t stop it before it’s too late. Less than five percent of Americans exercise near total economic power, political control and true supremacy over more than 95 percent of us. Surrounding government buildings with armed guards is the policy of that minority but presently supported by far too many of the misguided. We need to wake up, in the present tense, and become a guided, cooperative, truly democratic population demanding that the common, public good comes before any private profit before those supremacist private forces destroy us all, with or without identity labels or slogans that too often deny reality when what we need is to change it, radically.

The post Fake Lower Class Coup, Real Upper Class Bigotry, Near  Social Collapse first appeared on Dissident Voice.

USA: Unsafe at any Speed

The number of gun sales in Oregon by Christmas Day, 2020, was a whopping 4,000,000. The year before, an anemic 300,000.

It is the law of the gun. Guns in jets, guns in bombers, guns in schools, guns here on the streets, in Salem, at the Capital, guns in Grand Theft Auto V, guns in purses, guns in boudoirs, guns in locker-rooms, guns in nurseries, guns in  churches, guns in cars, guns in drones, guns guns guns.

Dalton Trumbo, quote from Johnny Got His Gun :

An equation: 40,000 dead young men = 3,000 tons of bone and flesh, 124,000 pounds of brain matter, 50,000 gallons of blood, 1,840,000 years of life that will never be lived, 100,000 children that will never be born (the last we can afford: there are too many starving children in the world already)….

Did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god I’m glad I’m dead because death is always better than dishonor? Did they say I’m glad I died to make the world safe for democracy? Did they say I like death better than losing liberty? Did any of them ever say it’s good to think I got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? Did any of them ever say look at me I’m dead but I died for decency and that’s better than being alive? Did any of them ever say here I am I’ve been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it’s wonderful to die for your native land? Did any of them say hurray I died for womanhood and I’m happy see how I sing even though my mouth is choked with worms?

Of course, the sideshow bantering about the attack on the Capitol, the five dead in DC (“Four Dead in Ohio”), who did what, is it a coup, are the halls of Congress sacred and hallowed, and something never seen before in the history of the United Snakes of America.

Of course, hysterical bantering on both sides of the political manure pile. Then all those “defund the police” woke people now wanting to throw the book at anyone and everyone at the “event,” even those milling around, or those who just came in for a selfie and had nothing to do with the ramming.

This is an inside job, of course — white nationalists in the police department, and a bunch of others flashing badges to get inside the Rotunda.

Impeach again, do a 25th amendment thing, call out the Guard, more laws, more fences, more surveillance tools, more eye, face, skin recognition AI. The trillions being made, passed back and forth, and the people with MAGA hats, and the people with Biden Buttons, the moldy media, the entire shit show really doesn’t give us a look at the new normal. This is old hand, the Cool Hand Luke world of Indian Slaughtering and Slave Torturing.

Oh, the upside world of right-side thinking — Many people arrested during the J20 protests of Trump’s inauguration, as you will recall, faced decades in prison for breaking storefront windows. Then, those two Black Lives Matter protesters who are lawyers, Colin Mattis and Urooj Rahman, went to town on an empty NYPD police car (vandalizing it) and are now facing federal charges with a sentence of 45 years to life.

The slippery slope that is the United Snakes of America. Lock her up. Abu Ghraib them all. Throw the key away.

Look, I have been thrown down and handcuffed several times over the years for, get this, peaceful protests. Protests where we had a fucking license (parade permit) to do our little First Amendment show.

In Arizona, in Texas, in Washington, in Oregon. I have been thrown down and cuffed as a teacher. As a frigging journalist. Try and protest the timber tyrants, or push for dam removal, or how about protesting Sea World or a zoo or circus for their elephant imprisonments.

I guarantee, those Proud Boys, those MAGA women we see at events, at the Capitol, all those bearded bikers, those blue-collar millionaires, come on, liberals, there is no dialogue. They never has been. You think there is dialogue here?

Elizabeth Eckford, age 15, pursued by a mob at Little Rock Central High School on the first day of the school year, September 4, 1957

So, that was a whopping 64 years ago, the year I was born.  We can go back farther:

Notice the smiles:

Sure, remarkable what the old deplorables did at the Capitol?

Well, let’s go back to 1919, when a white mob rioted through the streets of Washington, DC, while cops passively stood by and President Woodrow Wilson remained silent. A Black community in what’s now the Shaw neighborhood (Utah Avenue and Logan Circle) drove back the rampagers. Forty people were killed over a three day period. Who incited it? It took more than a 100 years for the esteemed Washington Post to admit to inciting and abetting it. The NAACP wrote a scorching letter to Wilson, the most racist president of the 20th century:

the shame put upon the country by the mobs, including United States soldiers, sailors, and marines, which have assaulted innocent and unoffending negroes in the national capital. Men in uniform have attacked negroes on the streets and pulled them from streetcars to beat them. Crowds are reported …to have directed attacks against any passing negro.

I don’t know. I hate to pull rank, but I am surrounded by people who to put it lightly have been so insulated, so cloistered, so self-isolating, that the things I have done on the streets, and the people I ran with and those I worked with and those I still work with, and the ground-truthing, and, well, I can’t say so much more here because I have a job that requires me to have a spotless record, of sorts. I won’t even get into what expungement means to me.

But I am hearing these bizarre things about the entire Capitol Siege, and alas, more censorship, more incarceration, more DA’s, more scrutiny, and, sure, we have a messed up country, but it has ALWAYS been that. The elites and the so-called liberal class have not been warriors of true egalitarianism and Marxist economy and organization. This here country is all about opportunities, and hoarders, and many of those “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” la-la land folk, well, they are dream hoarders. I guarantee many of those caught in the scandals involving paying bribes to get their vaunted children in the best schools are/were/will be Obama-Hillary-Biden backers.

The country was set up for a gilded age, followed by another and another gilded age. Now it’s Bitcoin Age, with the Digital Technologists and the Millions Working on Apps and AI and Robotics, well, they are right smack at the top of that next Fourth Industrial Revolution Gilded Few.

There is no housing guaranteed. There is no medical care guarantee. Teeth rotting? Good luck, Charlie. Bosses strip away any semblance of our rights, and we can organize into collective bargaining units without $2000 an hour legal outfits swooping in with their Leer Jets to denigrate and dissolve solidarity through every trick of the book.

The son-in-law Jared Kushner’s old man, pardoned. For what? Here we have it, no, the chosen elite:

Jared’s father was actually prosecuted back in the early 2000s by Chris Christie, then the US Attorney for New Jersey.

While under investigation, Charles hatched a revenge plot against his brother-in-law, William Schulder, for cooperating with prosecutors in a tax evasion case against him. Charles hired a hooker to have sex with Schulder in a Jersey motel room, where a hidden camera was rolling. The elder Kushner then sent the footage to Schulder’s wife, Ester, who is Charles’ sister.

The revenge plot backfired … the Schulders gave the footage to prosecutors, who tracked down the prostitute. She eventually snitched on Charles.

Christie recalled Charles’ plot last year, calling it “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he ever prosecuted.

Look, there are people even on sites like DV who really believe there is a dialogue to be had with those Trumpies. This is the first sign of weakness and sickness. I live in a rural local. I have lived in big cities but spent much time in flyover country, much time with ranchers, blue collars types, farmers, construction folk, pipe fitters, cement workers, and more. I guarantee, I have had hundreds of conversations with people who truly believe they are the great white race, that the great USA is a land of KKK milk and Slaver honey.

Flags that appeared at the MAGA-Rage: Trump flag, Gadsden Flag, American flag, Blue Lives Matter Flag, monarchist Iranian flag, Confederate flag, Israeli flag. But, sorry Robert Reich, didn’t see one flag for the Russian Federation.

Primary Mockup

Old Mitch, in his youth:

Then there is the quintessential white hope, Trump, pushing off the Medal of Freedom to South African golfer Gary Player, who believed that South African blacks were not as evolved as his white ass: Here, endorsing apartheid in his 1966 book Grand Slam Golf:

I must say now, and clearly, that I am of the South Africa of Verwoerd and apartheid … a nation which … is the product of its instinct and ability to maintain civilised values and standards amongst the alien barbarians.

Barbarians, one and all. Think of all the people working 80 or 90 hours a week, for staffing agencies. Mostly women, pounded and pounding the keyboard, the spreadsheet, the phone, to get people jobs in the warehouse, manufacturing, trucking, logistics et al business.

In a Time of Covid-19. Think of all the people trying to survive, waiting for the revenuers and the repo men and women and the eviction notices from those Black Live Do Not Matter Blue Lives Matter deputies. Knocking on the trailer door at 10 pm. Serving papers after millions of papers served.

The cops, lording over the forced evictions, the cars and furniture and appliances hauled off. Their, in their SWAT Team gear, fancy squad SUV, amazing, stoic and mean, while the babies and children and old people in wheelchairs are carted off.

Scenes from the Nazi’s coming into France and overtaking homes, belongings.


My aged friend, Barbara, 71, writes this to me today:

Meanwhile, Wall Street is booming, Bitcoin is soaring, and Big Tech is consolidating to fend against anti-trust actions.
Co-ordinated efforts? Seems to be the PUSH for the privatization of EVERYTHING as good soldiers for “democracy..  (little d)
All the world is a STAGE, Paul.  All this nonsense of defending anything is a ruse….
The media PLATFORMS have never made so much money all over the world…this is a gold rush…they won’t be stopping this anytime soon.

And then I just have to go back a few centuries, and remember the number 1.5 billion. 1,500,000,00 acres. Stolen. From Native Americans:

Their tenuous grasp of the subject is regrettable if unsurprising, given that the conquest of the continent is both essential to understanding the rise of the US and deplorable. Acre by acre, the dispossession of native peoples made the US a transcontinental power. To visualize this story, I created ‘The Invasion of America’, an interactive time-lapse map of the nearly 500 cessions that the US carved out of native lands on its westward march to the shores of the Pacific.

I guarantee those MAGA’s and Deplorables and their Backers are not shedding any tears for the First Nations? No tears for slaves or the legacy of generational trauma. Is it a brain wiring problem? Is it education? Family influences? Look at that map above.

I also guarantee those writers and prognosticators are not having real dialogue with redneck lumber guys and gals, redneck fishers, redneck construction gals and guys. Ex-military. Current cops.

Europe’s 20th century atrocities are easier for most people to envision than the dispossession of Native Americans. Stalin’s gulags destroyed millions of people in the 1930s and ’40s; Germany systematically murdered two-thirds of the continent’s Jews during the Second World War; Yugoslavia devolved into a bloodbath of so-called ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the early 1990s. Accounts of those episodes describe the victims as men, women and children. By contrast, the language used to chronicle the dispossession of native peoples – ‘Indian’, ‘chief’, ‘warrior’, ‘tribe’, ‘squaw’ (as native women used to be called) – conjures up crude stereotypes and clouds the mind, making it difficult to see the wars of extermination, forced marches and expulsions for what they were. The story, which used to be celebratory, is now more often tragic and sentimental, rooted in the belief that the dispossession of native peoples was unjust but inevitable. 
— Claudio Saunt, Richard B Russell Professor in American History, co-director of the Center for Virtual History, and associate director of the Institute of Native American Studies, all at the University of Georgia. His latest book is Unworthy Republic (2020). He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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The Art of the Bargain

Two groups with powerful political voices have provided a lifeline of support to the Trump presidency. The Pro-life and Pro-gun lobbies have been with him from the beginning, and likely will be there for whoever attempts to follow in his footsteps. While not solely confined to those avowing religious dogma, Pro-life sentiment is largely extolled from a Christian/Evangelical base. And while having little religious pretext to their cause, pro-gun sentiment is often found within the Christian (particularly Evangelical) community (nearly 60% of Evangelicals oppose stricter regulation). To many it seems a conflict; how can one be both Pro-life and Pro-gun? How can one believe in the sanctity of life and not oppose the proliferation of guns? “Quite easily,” is the seeming response of those with a foot in both camps. “Pro-life and pro-gun is not a contradiction,” writes Matt Bowman. The position is echoed in writings by others: Derryck GreenAlexandra Desanctis, and Russell D. Moore.

The “not a contradiction” argument is confidently made, but relies on a dubious approach: gun regulation is complicated and equivocal; Pro-life advocacy is simple and unequivocal. It’s “eyes wide open” with guns and an “eyes wide shut” with abortion.

With eyes wide open, there’s no denial that guns are lethal killing machines (in 2017 there were over 14,000 homicides and nearly 24,000 suicides committed with guns). Yes, it’s an admitted reality, but to see the whole picture, one shouldn’t be tethered to simple statistics. Matt Bowman intones, “Though it’s a cliché, it’s still a literal truth that guns don’t kill people, people do. Or to be more precise, most guns don’t kill people. Someone can own a gun without killing anyone or committing crimes.” So, the reasoning goes, most guns are purchased with absolutely no intent to commit murder or cause bodily harm. But the same can’t be said of abortion. Alexandra Desanctis writes, “Every successful abortion ends an innocent human life. A gun, meanwhile, can be used for ends that aren’t immoral, including self-defense.” In a nutshell, the position is this: most guns are not purchased with intent to end a human life, while every abortion is purchased with intent to end a human life. Conceivably then, one can purchase a gun without the intent to kill, therefore being Pro-life and Pro-gun is not a contradiction. Derryck Green takes it a bit further. Drawing from the words of Jesus, he implies it’s a Christian duty to carry a weapon: “Yet Jesus did encourage his disciples to carry swords (Luke 22:36, 38), plural, for protection and self-defense . . . which can and should be applied to gun ownership.”

“Eyes wide open” allows for a liberated sense of culpability. One can take part in gun proliferation, one can observe the deaths taking place, but one needn’t assume responsibility if personal involvement is without the intent to murder or cause bodily harm. In pro-gun mode, you are responsible for your own actions. What others do is on them, and is not your concern.

The “eyes wide shut” imperative is to accept the current Catholic/Evangelical determination that human life begins at the moment of conception. The determination is unequivocal; no other opinion is valid; there’s nothing else to see. In the words of Russell Moore, further consideration is an implausible annoyance:  “Tut the question of whether the unborn child is a human person bearing all the right to life.” An abortion then can only be seen as a murderous act that Christians must morally and politically oppose. In Pro-life mode, you are responsible for your own actions. What others do is on them, but is also your concern.

So, there seems to be divergent approaches taken. When a Pro-life Christian is in Pro-gun mode, he appears compelled to regulate the conduct of himself only. When he’s in Pro-life mode, he appears compelled to regulate the conduct of everyone.

For Matt Bowman et al., being Pro-life and Pro-gun is not a contradiction. Perhaps then, it’s merely duplicitous. In the Pro-life camp, the preservation of human life is sacrosanct. In the Pro-gun camp, the preservation of unfettered gun rights is sacrosanct, but human life is not. Can one have a foot in both camps and be guileless in either? If quoting scripture, how about consideration of Matthew 6:24? “No man can serve two masters.” Putting a foot inside the Pro-gun camp confers support to the arms industry and all it begets, just as stepping inside a casino confers support to the gaming industry and all it begets (whether one gambles responsibly or not). Is it really possible then, to avow Pro-life principles when stepping into the Pro-gun camp (whether responsibly or not) and abetting the deaths taking place there?

An odd affinity with the Pro-gun crowd is not Pro-life’s strangest affiliation. That distinction should go to its unwavering and unconditional support of the Trump administration. They’ve abided with Trump through all of his assaults on human life. And it’s not been only from outside; much of Trump’s cabinet/staff is (or was) declaratively Pro-life and actively involved in his decision making. Mike Pence, Mark Meadows, William Barr, Kellyanne Conway, Mike Pompeo, Kayleigh McEnany, and Paula White are just some of the avowed Pro-life Christian adherents who acknowledge no contradiction or duplicity in abetting Trump’s endeavors. His immigration policies have caused death and despair, both inside and outside our country. He’s promoted violence against opponents and critics. Most visibly, Trump’s actions (and inaction) are responsible for thousands of unnecessary COVID-19 deaths. Through it all, he’s been blessed with the abiding support of a Pro-life constituency (still evident in 2020 election results). How can it be?

The Pro-life rationalization for its Pro-gun involvement dismisses accountability for all activity other than one’s own. If there’s a Pro-life rationalization for its allegiance to Trump, it probably involves math rather than accountability. While the disregard for human life within the Trump administration is clearly visible; while children (and adults) are dying at our southern border; while thousands are turned away to face violence and death elsewhere; while DACA and asylum-seeking families are torn apart; while thousands of American lives are needlessly sacrificed to COVID each day; while all this is real and clearly visible, for the Pro-life crowd the numbers don’t add up to much; a math based incentive to reappraise isn’t there. It’s merely several hundred thousand human lives lost – maybe half a million, but only just that. The lives lost to Trump’s disregard for humanity doesn’t come close to abortion numbers. If every embryo and fetus is deemed a human life, abortion accounts for up to a million human deaths each year. So, that’s the rationalization, the Devils’ bargain that Pro-life Christians have made with Trump: thousands of human lives traded to promote the full embryonic development of the unborn millions. It makes for good mathematical sense, especially in the abstract, but is it a choice one could humanely make if it were more than a numerical abstraction? Instead of sterile numbers, what if the bargain involved real people; living human beings known and dear to you? If the bargain entangled friends or family, could you still take part in it?

Replace the numbers with real faces. Perhaps your mother is 65 years old, quite alive and healthy. She might be slightly diabetic, but it’s under control. Conceivably, she could have 25 or more years of a robust and enjoyable life still before her. You also have a 17-year-old daughter looking forward to college next fall. She comes to you with an urgent issue: she’s two months pregnant. You both have a deep respect for Pro-life values, but you’re now facing an immediate dilemma and a decision to be made that’s suddenly become too real. As if it’s not already complicated enough, the Devil abruptly appears and presents an untenable yet mandatory choice. If you and your daughter agree to an abortion, your mother’s life will not be taken. If you decide against it; if you refuse the abortion, your mother will die. There’s no way out; you have to decide. Would you consent to your mother’s death and allow the embryo’s continued development, to become a child with its lifetime yet ahead, or would you abort and grant your mother the possibility of 25 more years of enjoyable life? Yes, it’s an impossible situation, but it’s reflective of Pro-life’s bargain made with the Trump administration: to look away from and accept the human atrocities (like sacrificing your mother’s life) in exchange for Pro-life Christian empowerment (like saving your daughter’s embryo). It’s the Devil’s bargain that Pro-life Christians have made with Trump. They’ve tied themselves to “the Devil” and all the inhumanity that the Trump administration begets. It wasn’t a one-off acceptance. If Trump’s disregard for the sanctity of human life came as a post 2016 surprise, it’s had no effect on Pro-life’s continued allegiance. Even after four years of Trump exposure, the Devil’s bargain retains Christian support (80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2020).

It wasn’t forced upon them; the bargain was voluntary. That it was so easily made with one whose inhumanity and disregard for human life is so blatant – and that it still continues, gives rise to suspicion. That so many Pro-life Christians seem to easily immerse themselves in Pro-gun rhetoric furthers the suspicion: Pro-life is not so much about pro-life; it’s not so much about protecting human life. Perhaps Pro-life is most concerned with promoting pro-Christian political empowerment.

Trump saw the Pro-life and Pro-gun blocs for what they were: easy pickings. It was an art of the bargain opportunity – he knew what he wanted and how little he need give to get it. It was just a few bones tossed their way: a call-out; some empowerment, and they jumped at the offering with all the circumspection of hungry chickens thrown the entrails of their own kind. It was so easy for him. He saw them and knew what it would take. It was a little for a lot: the art of the bargain.

Trump’s dalliance with autocratic regimes was visible before he took office. His own efforts to subvert democracy in America have been openly displayed throughout the four years of his presidency. If it was too difficult to recognize during his abbreviated reign, it’s should be impossible to deny or gloss over now. Since his overwhelming election night defeat, Trump and much of his Republican Party have wallowed in vain attempts (thus far) to sabotage electoral results and overturn the democratically expressed will of the American people. Trump and his obliging party are defiantly attempting to upend democracy and gratuitously replace it with autocratic leadership. It’s the Republican Party; it’s not just Trump. When he finally boards the helicopter and is dropped at the resort of his choosing, his Party will still remain. It’s a party shown to be filled with autocratic sycophants; it’s the party of easy pickings. Someone with a loud voice and autocratic yearnings will come along to lead them. Like Trump, that someone will need an initial base of public support. He’ll offer a little something in return: a bargain of sorts.

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Escalation in Portland

If there is a point at which we realize we are taking our lives in our hands by just going downtown and marching in the streets, this might be it.

Last night a man was shot to death near the Justice Center in downtown Portland, where protests have been taking place every night for over three months. Details are still coming in, but it appears the deceased was a heavily-armed member of the far right. Another member of the far right was just arrested this morning in the working class Portland suburb of Milwaukie. He was arrested for having fired into a crowd the day before with live ammunition, apparently, in a separate incident from the killing at the Justice Center.

For those of you who might just be tuning in here, I’ll try to set the stage.

Prior to Trump, prior to the pandemic, Portland was a city experiencing multiple crises, as with many other cities across the country, but perhaps more so. Between the last two censuses Portland lost more than half of its Black population due to gentrification, a phenomenon known to many as ethnic cleansing. During that time, Portland also achieved #1 status in the nation in terms of the numbers of Black people killed by the police, per capita. Portland also achieved the status as the most rent-burdened city in the country, as determined by the cost of rent relative to the average income of renters in the city. For many comfortable homeowners living in the hills of west of downtown and shopping in the malls of Beaverton, the reality that they were living in a city that was experiencing multiple acute crises may have passed them by. We live in a very divided city, in so many ways. Just take a day-long walk down Burnside Boulevard from the hills west of downtown to the desolate trailers in outer southeast, and you’ll get the picture of the class structure of this society.

Prior to Trump, prior to the pandemic, groups like Don’t Shoot PDX and a multiplicity of other networks focused on police brutality, institutional racism, gentrification and the unaffordability of housing for most Black and working class people were active on the streets, online, and in electoral politics. While the state government is dominated by the interests of big landlords, like the Democratic Party everywhere, in local government on the city and county levels, increasing numbers of solidly progressive people have been getting in, in the city council as well as among elected officials in the judicial branch, such as the District Attorney who just dropped the charges of so many protesters who have been arrested over the past months.

Long prior to Trump, Portland was a hotbed of conflict between fascists and antifascists, between militant believers in white supremacy and militant antiracists. As with cities like Minneapolis, there is a lot of history to this conflict. The streets of Portland, as with the streets of Minneapolis and other cities, were contested ground. Oregon was founded as a white homeland, and Portland was a national home to organized racism for a long time, until relatively recently, and the supporters of these groups have not all moved to Idaho.

The combination of Trump’s election and the social forces he continually strives to unleash, the pandemic, the growing numbers of blatantly racist police murders across the country, the economic crash, the apparent withdrawal of any more real help from the federal government, and the complete incompetence and/or captured-by-the-landlords nature of the state authorities in Oregon and elsewhere, have altogether created a massive powder keg. Add to that a tremendous increase in gun sales over the past several months across the country, very much including Oregon. Add to that wannabe vigilantes speaking at the Republican National Convention, and real vigilantes in Wisconsin being praised by the president, with the blood still fresh on the streets of Kenosha.

OK, stage-setting over.

It’s always been mythology that in the USA the First Amendment gives people the right to peacefully protest. It’s always been mythology that when people commit acts of civil disobedience, such as marching or sitting down in the street, that they will generally be gingerly carried off with one cop taking each limb, carrying the arrested to an awaiting vehicle, and carefully placing them inside it. It’s always been mythology that when there are two opposing groups of protesters, the police are there to act as a neutral party to keep them from hurting each other. Under certain circumstances, peaceful protests go off without a hitch, police escort marchers in the streets, and they keep protesters from killing each other, but there’s nothing predictable about any of these things going that way. In fact, most often, they don’t go like that at all, in Portland, or in most US cities.

And yes, most US cities are Democrat-run, as Trump is so fond of pointing out. There are reasons for that. Unfortunately, these Democrats, like their Republican counterparts, are largely also wealthy landowners, such as Mayor Ted Wheeler, and/or politicians paid off by corporations, incapable of doing anything more than mouthing progressive slogans while they screw the entire working class over and over again with their actual actions. And what is especially telling is that in these progressive hotbeds, the police forces are full of unaccountable human rights abusers and members of the far right, and most of each city’s budgets goes to them every year. And despite the fact that these police departments are constantly losing lawsuits brought against them by the citizens they kill and maim, their killer cops not only almost never go to prison, but they almost all keep their six-figure jobs as our armed protectors.

While it is mythology that there’s anything like a set of rules to adhere to for proper protesting etiquette, to avoid getting attacked by police or fascists, for example, or to get positive media coverage, or any media coverage at all, it is true that there are general tendencies in a given country at a given historical moment in terms of how things will go the vast majority of the time. And to the extent that it was generally the case that you didn’t used to have to worry about people shooting at each other with live ammunition at protest rallies in front of a federal courthouse in the center of a city in this country a few years ago, this expectation is increasingly not valid.

Whoever shot the heavily-armed member of the far right downtown last night, the context was that other members of the far right were spraying crowds with gunfire, a massacre of protesters had just been committed in Wisconsin by a member of the far right, and hundreds of beefy white people with big flags throughout downtown Portland were involved with vehicular assaults on pedestrians and other vehicles, and lots of people were spraying each other with bear mace, hitting, and kicking each other.

Although no one has been killed by a politically-motivated left-winger or anarchist in the United States in decades to my knowledge, while members of the far right kill us regularly at this point, if it indeed is the case that this man was killed in the course of a conflict with a counter-protester, this really shouldn’t come as any surprise. Many people we might broadly define as antifascists embrace armed self-defense and do shooting practice regularly, from Anti-Racist Action to the John Brown Gun Club, and new groups like that seem to be forming daily, along with neighborhood associations forming for people to defend one another from the coming waves of evictions.

Knowing that the police are either unwilling or unable to effectively police events such as the Trump Cruise and ensuing urban combat that we saw last night, given that going downtown to protest, whether you’re protesting in a way that the authorities deem to be “peaceful” or “violent,” you are risking your life by being there.

Of course, you’re also risking your life every time you cross a busy street, or ride your bicycle down one. And when you’re in a crowd of enthusiastic, community-minded protesters from all walks of life, of all ages, catching up with each other, playing music, shouting at the mayor, and taking over the streets, it’s easy to feel invincible. At least for me it is. It’s easy to rationalize away fear, and perhaps for some of us more than others, easy to feel like these bad things can’t possibly happen to me. But if they happen more and more often, people start to change their orientation.

Standing on the precipice we’re all standing on right now here in the USA, my mind delivers me historical parallels, as a sort of desperate measure, trying to make sense of it all. I’m not sure how relevant any of them are, but any of them might be. There are too many different factors that go into creating the future.

But at least in retrospect, some things seem clear. Retrospect is good like that. The massacres at Kent State and Jackson State, along with so many more killings by the authorities of Black radicals especially, in no small part gave rise to networks such as the short-lived Black Liberation Army and the Weathermen. Developments like these tend to reinforce the maxim that violence is made inevitable through the suppression of more peaceful means.

Similarly, in Northern Ireland there was a civil rights movement, that sought equality for the oppressed Catholic minority in the Occupied Six Counties. The movement was consciously modeled after the civil rights movement in the US. Like its counterpart in the US, it was met with tremendous violence, which ultimately took the forms of racist pogroms in 1969, the burning of hundreds of homes by anti-Catholic mobs, a massive propaganda campaign of fake news brought on by the authorities, vilifying the largely Catholic movement, and ultimately a massacre of movement organizers by British troops. All of these events of 1969 and 1970 ultimately led people to conclude that peaceful marches were not working if they would just end in massacres. And this understanding gave rise to the armed resistance movement that followed, which in turn gave rise to a conflict that took the lives of thousands of people over the following quarter century.

There are those examples of fires being fueled by the authorities. Then there are other examples, when governments with intelligent leaders who know they’re in a race against time act decisively. A somewhat random example that comes to mind is how at the end of the Second World War, after years of a terrible occupation that involved a famine and many thousands of deportations and executions, with many more shipped off to work as forced laborers, after the Netherlands was liberated by Allied forces from Canada, the US, Poland and elsewhere, but also in no small part including by Dutch resistance forces as well, the first thing the government did when it came back from exile was collect all the guns that were now all over the country. They were desperately concerned that after all these years of Nazi occupation, there could be terrible conflict in society between those who resisted in some form, and those who collaborated to one degree or another. If there were to be such conflicts, they wanted to make sure that they did not involve firearms.

My orientation is admittedly Eurocentric. I’ve spent most of my adult life somewhere between North America and Europe, and much less of it anywhere else in the world. One of the guests I interviewed for one of my livestream shows/podcasts recently, an Argentinian anarchist and professor at the University of Massachusetts, Graciela Monteagudo, says the fascist comparisons aren’t so relevant, that the divisions in US society and the incompetent, corrupt state ostensibly at the helm of it are much more like a typical kleptocratic banana republic than a well-oiled fascist fighting machine.

Either way, if there is a point at which we realize we are taking our lives in our hands by just going downtown and marching in the streets, this might be it. What comes next, I don’t know that anybody knows – I sure don’t. I only know a little, mostly selective tidbits about what has happened before. The time and place we’re in now is not like those other times and places, however. It’s new, and in so many ways, as they never tire of pointing out in the news, unprecedented.

Women and Children First: Sandy Hook

I chose this title for two reasons:  one simple, the other more complex.  The basic facts state that 7 adults were killed during the Sandy Hook atrocity; that 6 of those adults were women, and 20 children, all between the ages of 6 and 7; and also the shooter himself, Adam Lanza, the only adult male on the Sandy Hook death list.

As far as the public record goes, there is no evidence that the killer was a professed misogynist, nor that he harbored a special hatred for children.  Nevertheless, the gender of the adults that Lanza targeted for execution — beginning with his own mother, who is not included in the death log above — leaves little doubt that a definite, hard-core anti-female bias was fully operational in the lone gun man’s mind.  Moreover, I would suggest that a deep cultural animosity toward women was blatantly manifest in the Sandy Hook Elementary killing spree, a tendency that has been subtly perpetuated by major media coverage of the incident.  Despite the smashed computer, and whatever motivational clues were stored there, if we sequence generic cultural terms like patriarchy, chivalry, and misogyny, a template emerges that indicates the symbolic hard-wire of Adam Lanza’s brain.

To begin at the beginning:  our civilization is fundamentally patriarchal.  The Greeks, the Romans, the Jews of the Old Testament:  these cement cinder blocks of Western culture are full of guys calling the shots, making the speeches, writing the laws, fixing the books, and settling the scores.  The Book of Genesis, for example, provides an archetypal lens for this civilization’s view of women who, we are told, were made from the first man Adam’s rib.  Certainly, this bit of nonsense alone disqualifies the Old Testament as a Biology textbook.  However, beyond a basic reversal of common sense on the subject of physical origins, the rule of patriarchy tends to discredit the existence of women, casting them down.  Not so high up in the order of Creation — except that we frequently find images of the “fair sex” fixed upon pedestals, silver screens, and magazines, all variations on a still-life, trophy-style, wall-mounted theme.

Aye, there’s the Rib!

Which is about where chivalry enters the scene, smoothing over the rough stuff.  Dashing, complimentary, and seemingly free of charge.  As it turns out:  not only can women not protect themselves, they can’t even open doors!  Thank God for the men, whom He supernaturally created first, raising Man right up out of the dust, dry as a bone.  Beyond any and all serpents and sirens of our collective mythology, chivalry masks — or even enshrines — a tradition of viewing females as eminently vulnerable and weak, fragile vessels in need of protection:  not that the Ladies have had much choice in the matter over the centuries, of course.

Only very recently, indeed, has the United States sent women into “harm’s way,” or combat.  It is worth noting in this connection that, based on casualty counts from Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiering in the field has never been “safer.”  For its part, the video gaming industry has seen to it that the kids do not lack for simulated war-like action.  The “kill-shot” is easily within the vocabulary range of the average teenager, even though Thucydides or Clausewitz, Auschwitz or Hiroshima, probably is not.

But to return to the almost indigestible immediate cause of these reflections, it can be fairly asserted that the chivalry switch in Adam Lanza’s brain flipped, and that he killed exclusively the kind of people that any young man should be hard-wired to protect.  Yet, instead of a shining white suburban knight, Sandy Hook got the fully automated predator model, a terrorist-misogynist machine.

To official source, of course, no “authority,” speaks of this massacre in terms of Terrorism.  Neither has the subject of misogyny been mentioned, as if the media had deleted things like the Salem Witch Trials from historical memory.  Only in passing is it even noted that all of the adult victims (minus the killer) were women.  In the lurid light of this mass murder, the national consciousness maintains both a soft spot for terrorism as much as a blind spot for Misogyny.  Moreover, despite all of that “godless humanism” poisoning the well of our educational system, it appears that the ancient soil of old school dichotomies like Innocent Adam/Evil Eve is still capable of nourishing perfectly savage saplings.

And the Kids:  what about them?  Well, as we learned in Vietnam, sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it.  Just as the adult female staff members were targeted for execution, so were the kids under their protective care slaughtered:  and that’s a piece of the News that was deemed not fit to print.

So, whatever Adam Lanza’s personal pathology, or his particular, idiosyncratic screw loose, he did not commit this atrocity in a cultural vacuum.  This example of evil did not spring ex nihilo.

If nothing else, then, as this horrific incident has already faded into the annals of the 24-hour news cycle; as this latest mass murder has been recast into the rhetorical cudgel of pompous political debates about gun control, mental illness, home schooling, and the like:  We might all do well to ask ourselves whether such massacres are the inevitable by-products of not only the current state of our culture, but also the deeper sources from which this current flows.  The short answer is, in all probability, yes.  I wonder if the long answer can be any different?

Sandy Hook Revisited

I wrote and spoke the above analysis of the Sandy Hook massacre within days of that atrocity occurring 7 years ago.  I am of the same mind now as then about the incident:  that it’s the story of a dystopian misogynist nightmare, in reality.  The authorities investigating Sandy Hook, however, reached a very different conclusion. As a matter of historical record, they discerned “no motive” for Adam Lanza’s mass murdering carnage, as if a team of ostriches had conducted the investigation, instead.  Could it be that the authorities simply preferred to see “no motive” rather than admitting misogyny?

Apparently, despite the explicit details of the Sandy Hook crime scene, the myth that misogyny is not a core cultural trait, or bias, is still being propped up — and not just by our expert-ostrich investigators.  There are those who deny that Sandy Hook happened at all; that it was, in fact, a hoax, or “false flag” operation, presumably staged to “take away our guns!”– whatever that means.

A simple background check shows that the American citizenry is exceptionally well-armed; further, that all of those guns are highly unlikely to be confiscated any time soon.  Indeed, the United States has out-gunned the rest of the planet during the last 3 quarters of a century, beginning with the atomic bomb-punctuated end of World War 2, when American global hegemony was mass murderously announced through two smoking mushroom clouds.  America, it can be said, loves its “nukes” almost as much as its guns.  So much is obvious.

What is also obvious is the fact that Sandy Hook took place in an affluent white suburb, and this fact flies in the face of “American exceptionalist” belief, a belief that all of our sacred guns are said to protect.  The horror elicited by a young adult white kid from a prosperous community methodically executing women, and the first-grade children under their care, is incomprehensible to the “America First!” mentality.  “White people don’t do like that!” shrieks the “American exceptionalist”– and quickly changes the subject to gun rights, mental illness, “black-on-black crime,” or anything else but…

Psychologically, then, the Sandy Hook hoax story doubles down on the official narrative – that there was “no motive” — by denying that this “exceptional” display of misogyny ever happened in the first place.  The “take-away,” as folks say:  misogyny doesn’t really exist.  Count longtime Washington Post journalist-opinionist Karen Tumulty an adherent of this “See-no-misogyny” point of view.

In one of the few articles I’ve been able to find on the subject (as if the “subject” were taboo), Zach Schonfeld’s May 28, 2014 Newsweek article “Mass murder and misogyny, paired yet again,” concerning an apparently misogynistic murder spree in Southern California, quotes this telling Tumulty tweet: “Too many people seeing Santa Barbara as misogyny.  It’s about mental illness.”  To say the least, Tumulty’s trite tweet carries an Ark-load of ostriches.

As the Newsweek writer Schonfeld correctly notes, misogyny and mental illness are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, Elliot Rodger, the killer in the Santa Barbara (or Isla Vista) massacre, had been the ongoing subject of a psychiatric surveillance regime. His parents were Hollywood-types, and they were concerned.  As it turns out, their “privileged white male” offspring had been clinically diagnosed with something esoterically known as “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified”; so, maybe Tumulty’s tweet has a point after all?  Well, not so fast.  Elliot Rodger left behind a rather lengthy diatribe spelling out his hatred of women, including the logically intended consequences of his hatred so-spelled-out.  The murderous actions that Rodger subsequently committed unequivocally fill-in-the-blank of “disorder not otherwise specified”–“otherwise” known as misogyny.  Unsurprisingly, it is not a Freudian slip to say that the American psychiatric community is also on board the “See-no-misogyny” train.

The patriarchal bias — Father knows best! — has millennially deep roots, and its defenders are as institutionally numerous — and committed! — as they are reflexively blind to any evidence of misogyny, even where it stares them unambiguously in the face.  Perhaps the ultimate, unwitting irony of Tumulty’s tweet is that it tends to exonerate a “privileged white male” of the crimes he committed, since he was the real victim — a victim of, you know, “mental illness” — as opposed to seeing him as the misogynist murderer he certainly was.

However modern we collectively pretend to be, it appears that some crazy Ancient ideas, patriarchal to a fault, still rule the roost.  Innocent Adam and Evil Eve, indeed!

Hell Yes, Take Them Away!

“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47!”  With that unequivocal statement, Beto O’Rourke ignited right wing gun pundits who’ve kept some powder dry for just such a remark:

“Who is this “we” he speaks of? Democrats? Liberals? Bring it, fools. Come and try to take my legally purchased guns. I double-dog dare you to come to my house and attempt to violate my Constitutional rights. It’s won’t be nearly as easy as Beta O’Dork thinks. (Def-Con News)

“My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.” (Texas State Rep. Briscoe Cain)

“Why do you oppose federal licensing?” Because leading Democrats are threatening confiscation. “Why do you oppose ‘universal’ background checks?” Because they would create a registry. “And why do you oppose a registry?” Because leading Democrats are threatening confiscation. Unwittingly or not, O’Rourke and his acolytes have stuck a dagger into the exquisitely calibrated gun-control messaging on which their party has worked for the better part of 20 years. (National Review)

It’s not just on the right; Beto O’Rourke also seems to have agitated many on the Left.  On Meet The Press, fellow presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg implied Beto’s comments played into the hands of the NRA (though he himself favors the banning of new assault rifles). Morning Joe Scarborough exaggerated O’Rourke’s buy-back proposal, painting it as a “kick in the door” confiscation policy that could never happen. He derided Beto’s words as just more red meat for gun owners.  Senator Chris Coons said O’Rourke’s proposal was “unwise and feeds into the right-wing refrain that Democrats are seeking to take all guns away from Americans”.

The timidity goes on and on: tread softly, or you’ll upset them. It’s like an abused housewife’s non-confrontational stance taken towards a drunken, violent-prone husband. At least in her moment, the reaction is understandable; it allows for her survival. The same can’t be said for those who really want gun reform. Treading softly has neither placated the abuser nor decreased the violence. Fifty years of pandering to the NRA’s problem child has only made him more belligerent and dangerous.  Politically measured “reasonable” proposals keep his toys in place and maybe his threatened tantrum at bay, but little else. We still have nearly 13,000 murder-by-gun deaths every year. The safe, “not-to-extreme” approach maintains status-quo variations of toothless regulation while gun violence continues.

O’Rourke doesn’t really propose “busting down doors” to confiscate assault weapons, but why shouldn’t he? Why shouldn’t anyone? It’s condoned for other recognized dangers and legal concerns. Police are given warrants to enter homes for drug busts and child porn searches.  Authorities knock on doors searching for fugitives or immigrants without papers. “Door busting” warrants are often obtained for even violent free situations (ex. Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort).  So why not rap on the door that hides a killing machine?

The weapons are legal, but shouldn’t be; military assault style rifles provide for what their name implies: an efficient means to assault. Their design is for warfare and the killing of human beings. If you really have a need to kill animals (or even just like to) there are plenty of guns designed and readily available for that purpose. If you really have a need to kill human beings (or even just want to) there are plenty of guns designed and available for that purpose, too. Most of them are referred to as assault weapons, and they’re perfectly legal. Imagine that: they’re perfectly legal. Manufacturers are allowed to sell weapons to civilians that are specifically designed to kill human beings, yet hold no legal responsibility when used for that purpose. OxyContin anyone?

Does the thought of an AK-47 in your husband’s hands make you a little uncomfortable? How about if your young son acquired one? Would you be at least a little concerned? You probably should be; some vivid red flags are fluttering. Statistically, males are prone to violent outbursts.  They commit 70% to 90% of all murders.  en perpetrate about 98% of all mass killings and constitute at least 90% of all modern day serial killers. In domestic settings, 80% of spousal murders are committed by men, and in the workplace, males account for 97% of all rampage style killings. Think about this: your son or spouse with an AR-15 has fantasies of killing a human being; not just in a passing pique of anger, but coolly in a measured way. Yes, that thought is really there; he has an image in his mind.  Before he buys a car, a guitar, a game, or anything else, he imagines using it; it’s what people do.  AK-47’s are machines specifically designed for the potent killing of human beings; their intended use is imagined when the purchase is contemplated. It might not mean he immediately intends to kill scores of school children, innocent co-workers, or that a meltdown of some kind is imminent. But it does mean this: he’s at least pictured himself using that weapon to kill a human being; that for some psychological reason, he has a need to imagine and posses that kind of power; to project that kind of threat. Do you see the red flags flapping? If acquired, three things have come together: a male, a fantasy, and the tool that can make it happen.

It’s illegal to knowingly download images of child pornography, even if alone and in your home.  Even in fantasy mode, it’s recognized as dangerous and a threat to innocent children. It’s perfectly legal to load an AR-15; you can even do it in the presence of a child; you can expose him to the beauty of holding a weapon that’s capable of killing forty people in less than a minute.  Is it real, or is it fantasy?

The child pornographer is sexually perverted. His downloads serve no healthy, useful purpose; they feed obscene fantasies and encourage purveyors. At some point he might act upon those fantasies and harm a living child; he’s weird and dangerous; something’s not right in his head.  It’s why we fear, loath, and distrust him. If discovered by authorities, his perversion would be dealt with quickly (unless he’s a well-connected Caucasian billionaire). There would be a warrant, a knock, and if necessary, a “door busting” entrance to seize his computer and arrest him.

The civilian owner of an assault weapon is mentally perverted. His military style firearm serves no healthy, legal purpose.  It simply feeds obscene fantasies. At some point he might even act upon those fantasies and kill real people (a lot of people in a short amount of time). To have the psychological need to possess such a killing device means something is not right in his head; he’s weird and dangerous. It’s why we should fear, loath, and distrust him. Perhaps we do, but we enable his perversion anyway. We respectfully tread softly while 13,000 men, women and children are murdered every year.

We don’t need AR-15’s, etc. for “sport” or subsistence hunting. We don’t need them for target shooting.  We don’t need them for protection. They’re only really “needed” by those who clearly shouldn’t have them; gang members, criminals, and those with the psychological need to project an air of deadly power. Is there a reliable way to recognize those who shouldn’t have an assault weapon? Sure, it’s easy; it’s any civilian who wants to have one (and it’s most likely a male).

So, hell yes, we should knock on doors and get them off the street. It’s the guns; the assault weapons. Their owners and purveyors are moral perverts with unhealthy needs. Like child porn addicts, their gratification is found in violent fantasy. Maybe it remains just that: a bit of fantasy with perhaps some violent underpinnings; maybe it’s only a fluttering passing thought and nothing more; unless it…well…you know… you’ve probably seen the headlines a few times.

It’s the gun, an assault weapon that animates the fantasy and arms the reality. It’s the gun, an assault rifle that provided a means to kill 58 people in less than ten minutes; it’s the gun used in so many mass shootings; the gun solely designed for the efficient killing of human beings; the gun with no essential legal purpose; it’s a supremely lethal gun and it’s still in the hands of three million adolescent adults with comic book fantasies.

So, hell yes, again.  Make them illegal. Take away the AR-15’s. Take away the AK-47’s.  Recognize and call out the perversion. Stop treading softly. Knock on doors. Get rid of them. Beto O’rourke’s plan would make a decent start: a buy-back program. Propose sixty days for amnesty and compensation; cut the compensation in half through the next sixty days; after that, no compensation and no amnesty. Anyone still in possession of an assault weapon would then be subject to arrest and gun confiscation. It’s not so draconian a proposal; the assault weapon holder is offered compensation, amnesty, and most importantly this: a chance to renew his life.  He should feel fortunate; consider how other perverts are treated. The child porn addict gets only this: an immediate arrest and a scarlet letter.

Hell yes, take them away!

God, Guns and Video Games

The din struck by videos of the gaming variety; its forced causal link (always alleged, never proved) to altering conduct, continues its relentless march across the discussion forums in the United States and beyond.  The almost casual butcheries – actual, not as opposed to digital – have gone on unabated, the next extremist taking a murderous shot at his role in history – and everybody else.  Now it is the white supremacists who are sharing top billing with previous jihadi enthusiasts, a concession on the part of law enforcement authorities that there might be something to say about using the word “terrorist” in an ecumenical sense.

The August 3 shootings at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, left over 30 dead and 53 injured.  The profiles of the shooters were subjected to a less than thorough dissection.  A twenty-one-year old Patrick Crusius had allegedly driven from Dallas-Fort Worth to El Paso in the hope of targeting Mexican immigrants.  For Connor Betts, motives seemed sketchy, though he was noted for having a Twitter account showing much support for Antifa and an interest in “exploring violent ideologies”.  Much is being made of his drug addled state at the time of the shootings.

The taking of sides over the whole calculus of violence took place in a matter of hours.  For those insisting on gun control, lax rules enabling the easy acquisition of weapons of mass lethality were fundamental, with Texas taking the lead.  Racism and xenophobia were also blamed.

For gun worshippers, the culprits were violent celluloid, naughty video games, hideous media.  Even as the casualty lists were being compiled, Fox News host Jon Scott  suggested that the El Paso shooter was merely another youth raised on a diet of violent video games that might propel him to take to guns.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick speculated that the killings were the bloody realisations of a video game, a desire on the part of the shooter to “be a super soldier, for his Call of Duty game.”  But there was a bit more to that: God’s banishment from society, the one and only deity being cast out for most of the week, unable to exert His moral authority.  “As long as we continue to only praise God and look at God on a Sunday morning and kick him out of the town square in our schools the other six days of the week, what do we expect?”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures that video games dehumanized participants, turning them into insentient zombies.  “We’ve watched studies show what it does to individuals, and you look at these photos and how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”

President Donald Trump, as he did in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parklands, Florida, lamented the “glorification of violence in our society”, which included “the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.  It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.”

The president also had room for that old straw man Fake News which “has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.  News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”

Some common ground is found in commentary suggesting that Gamergate holds the toxic key – at least when it comes to understanding white nationalist trigger happy types. Founded in a campaign of coordinated harassment in 2014 against female video game designers and gaming critics, the Gamergaters migrated from the 4chan image-based website to 8chan.  (4chan had tired of the harassing troupe.)  Evan Urquhart duly stretches the bow in his Slate contribution.  “This subculture of Gamergaters, who erroneously believe themselves to be the only true gamers in the world in a world of phonies, is what made the culture of 8chan what it is.  It was violent then, it it’s more violent now.”

If only it were that simple: the moving image would be banned; the provocative print would be stored away in inaccessible troves; online forums would be banished.  But as tens of millions of humans happily engage with such matter without incident on a daily basis, the prosecution is left floundering on this point.

In the 1950s, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham pushily decided that comic books were needlessly imperilling readers (perhaps viewers is more appropriate?).  His methodologically unsound Seduction of the Innocent remains a suitable bit of canonical drivel, stirring the agitated, not least of all his claim that the gay subtext of the Batman stories was harmful to youths.  It led to a panic that saw the creation of the Comics Code Authority and the eventual demise of EC Comics.

Since then, there has been a smattering of work on the gaming-violence causation business.  The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology ran a study in 2013 featuring participants engaged in playing violent or non-violent video games over 20 minutes per day over 3 days.  “As expected, aggressive behaviour and hostile expectations increased over days for violent game players, but not for nonviolent video game players, and the increase in aggressive behaviour was partially due to hostile expectations.”  That same year, another study published in Aggressive Behaviour found an exception: participants surveyed sowed that violence with a “prosocial motive (i.e. protecting a friend and furthering his nonviolent goals) were found to show lower short-term aggression”.

Research published this year by Andrew K. Przybylski of Oxford University and Netta Weinstein of Cardiff University, arguably gives us one of the most thorough bodies of work to date.  It surveyed 1,004 British 14-15-year-olds on gaming habits and behaviour, along with an equal number of carers.  “There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour.”  According to co-author Weinstein, “Our finding suggest that researcher biases might have influenced previous studies on this topic, and have distorted our understanding of the effects of video games.”

Even judges have opined from upon high on the issue, with the late Antonin Scalia observing in the 2011 case of Brown v Entertainment Merchant Association that psychological research studies, at least those being relied upon in that case, “do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at least be a beginning).”  The studies only showed “at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and miniscule real-world effects”.

This does not prevent the prosecution from having a good stab at the futile.  Dozens of countries have access to violent games and do not see gamers running amok massacring all and sundry.  The issue is deeper, and the deeper part is what is problematic.  In this, progressives and conservatives find testy, shallow consensus, if in slightly different ways.  The video gamers are being accused of producing a star fashioned in ghoulish, murderous reality.

Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common

Writing under the title of “If the El Paso shooter had been Muslim”, Moustafa Bayoumi stated the obvious.

“If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim,” Bayoumi wrote in the British Guardian newspaper on August 6, US President Donald Trump “would be lobbing accusations such as ‘Islam hates us’ in the direction of Muslims and not lecturing the public about video games.”

Bayoumi was referring to the double standards that define much of western official and media discourses regarding violence. When the alleged perpetrator of violence is a Muslim, then the case becomes a matter of national security and is categorically dealt with as an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a white male, however, it is a whole different story.

On August 3, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius carried out a mass shooting in a Wal-mart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 innocent people.

Neither US authorities nor media used the term “terrorism” in describing the heinous act. Instead, the Justice Department is “seriously considering” bringing federal hate crime charges against the killer, CNN reported.

On the other hand, Trump reasoned that “mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” in another attempt at whitewashing violent crimes by white individuals.

The “mental illness” explanation, in particular, has served as the convenient rationale for all similar violence.

For example, when 28-year-old Ilan Long opened fire on college students in Thousand Oaks, California, in November 2018, killing 12 people, Trump offered this logic. “He was a very, very mentally ill person,” he said, referring to Long. “He’s a very sick — well, it’s a mental health problem. He is a very sick puppy. He was a very, very sick guy.”

The mental illness argument was infused repeatedly, including last March, when Brenton Tarrant opened fire on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” Trump said of Tarrant’s anti-Muslim terrorist attack.

Compare this to Trump’s response to the killing of 14 people in San Bernardino, California, which was blamed on two Muslims. Trump immediately assigned the word “terrorism” to the violent act, while calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of the entry of Muslims to the United States, “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on”.

But we do, in fact, know “what is going on”, a truth that goes beyond the typical western double standards. Crusius, Tarrant and many such white terrorists are connected through a deep bond that exceeds the supposed claim of mental illness into something truly sinister.

These individuals are all part of a larger phenomenon, an amalgamation of various ultra-nationalist governments, political movements and groups all around the world, all united by their hate for immigrants, refugees and Muslims.

Crusius and Tarrant were not “lone wolf” terrorists, as some would want us to believe. Even if they were single-handedly responsible for the mass murder of those innocent people, they are members of a large, ideological, militant network that is dedicated to spreading hate and racism, one which sees immigrants — especially Muslims — as “invaders”.

In his “manifesto”, a 74-page document that he posted online shortly before he carried out his heinous act, Tarrant references the far-right, the racist ideologues who inspired him, along with fellow “ethno-soldiers” — like-minded murderers who committed equally horrific acts against civilians.

It was not by accident that Tarrant named his document the “Great Replacement”, as it was framed after a similarly named conspiracy theory made popular by a strong Israel supporter, Renaud Camus.

Camus is an infamous French writer whose “Le Grand Remplacement”, an even more extreme interpretation of Francis Fukuyama’s Clash of Civilizations, envisages a global conflict that sees Muslims as the new enemy.

The Great Replacement, along with other such literature widely popular among the far right, represents the ideological foundation for the, until recently, disorganized and disconnected efforts by various ultra-nationalist movements around the world, all united in their desire to address the “Muslim invasion”.

The common thread between violent white males who commit mass killings is obvious: a deep indoctrination of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and hate for Muslims. Like Tarrant, Crusius also left his own manifesto, one that is, according to CNN, “filled with white nationalist and racist hatred toward immigrants and Hispanics, blaming immigrants and first-generation Americans for taking away jobs and the blending of cultures in the US”.

Moreover, both seemed to subscribe to the same intellectual discourse, as they had posted links to a 16,000-word document on Twitter and 8chan that was “filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments”.

“The writer of the document linked to the El Paso suspect expressed support for the shootings of two mosques in Christchurch,” CNN also reported.

White militants are gripped by the groundless fear that they are being “replaced”. “Great Replacement” promoters argue that Islam and the Islamic civilization are “ethnically replacing” other races, and that such a supposed phenomenon must be stopped, using violent means if necessary. Unsurprisingly, they see Israel as a model country that is succeeding in fighting against the “Muslim menace”.

What makes violent white supremacists even more dangerous is the fact that they now have friends in high places. Trump’s refusal to address the issue of white nationalist militancy in a serious way is no accident. But the American president is not alone. The rising star of Italian politics, Matteo Salvini, for example, has a great deal of sympathy for such movements. Following the Christchurch massacre, the Italian defense minister refused to condemn white extremists. Instead, he said: “The only extremism which should be carefully addressed is the Islamic one.”

The list of far-right ideologues and their benefactors is long and constantly expanding. But their hate-filled speech and disturbing “theories”, along with their fascination with Israeli violence and racism, would have been assigned to the bins of history if it were not for the high price of violence that is now associated with this movement.

Our understanding of white nationalist violence should move beyond the double-standard argument into a more wholesome analysis of the ideological links that tie these individuals and groups together. In the final analysis, no form of violence targeting innocent people should be justified or tolerated, regardless of the skin color, religion or identity of the perpetrators.