Posts Tagged pacifism

The NRA Blames Everyone But Guns: Sandy Hook Press Conference

National Rifle Association Holds News Conference In Wake Of Newtown School Shooting

The NRA’s response to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary – and any other mass shooting in the country for that matter – has been one of massive scapegoating: women, teachers, video games, the entertainment industry, hurricanes, terrorists, the doorman at the school, and the mentally ill. Everyone and everything but guns, gun owners and gun lobbyists who have spent years easing gun regulationsmor across the country making it possible to obtain guns easier than a car — were responsible.

More specifically, The National Rifle Association, which is the nation’s largest gun advocates lobby, attributed the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to “school free zones,” arguing that “genuine monsters” (other than the proponents of gun ownership galore that is) are attracted to schools because its administrators and teachers are not armed.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA low life and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said.  He urged Congress to “act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.” La Pierre shoveled out blame far and wide, going after reporters for glorifying killers like Adam Lanza, violent movies, video games, and music videos. He tore into gun safety advocates for exploiting the tragedy for “political gain,” targeted President Obama for underfunding police initiatives in schools, and said that the media demonized “local gun owners” and spread “misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next violence is a new cycle away.” “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization,” he said.

Now it is the fault of law abiding citizens who don’t sleep with assault rifles under their pillows that this happened?  Clearly, according  to the NRA,  they asked for it since not owning a gun is an invitation to being gunned down and shot in places you ought to feel safe. This is the same garbage rhetoric used in rape culture where the victims become the  accused and are told that having behaved or dressed in certain ways provoked and justified,  or at the least made it “understandable”,  why they were assaulted and raped. That is a very disconcerting position to take as it is incredibly manipulative, twisting the victim/perpetrator position around, thus indirectly assign blame to victims for the atrocities committed against them rather than trying to find ways to minimize such atrocities and violence and thus really change anything about the status quo.

Scapegoat and Round up the Mentally Ill While We’re At It 

La Pierre also called for the nation to create an “active national database of the mentally ill”, a brilliant idea that not only will not violate any privacy laws (HIPAA), it will also most definitely not lead to further stigmatization and marginalization of  people with psychological disabilities  – whom he apparently lumps in together with violent criminals – and discourage care-seeking, diagnosis, and treatment.

I don’t even know where to begin. Twenty families are burying their children in this holiday season, children who will never experience life and all its wonders, not to mention the psychological trauma the parents and families of those children will experience for the rest of their lives because of the actions of a criminal with easy access to weapons of mass murder, and all the NRA can come up with is basically blaming the victims and their parents for the outcome? Citing hurricanes and  the media and Hollywood and the lack of tools of murder?

La Pierre and his supporters are nothing but disgusting, contemptible, frightened, small-minded fear mongers who are placing the alleged rights of a bunch of people to own tools of murder and mass murder above the life and safety of people.

There is just something indescribably vile about a proponent of unregulated access to guns. This was an opportunity for the NRA to grow, to advocate responsbile gun ownership and regulations like, for example, creating a national database of gun owners and requiring gun registration and other institutional controls similar to car ownership and operation. Instead, all they could come up with was shameless scapegoating, deflecting of responsibility and advocating the discrimination of vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, who are, frankly, more likely to be victimized by violence than to perpetrate it.

Mental Illness Does NOT Equal Violent Behavior

The final straw, of course, was calling for a national database of the mentally ill. Not a national database of gun owners, but of the mentally ill.

Ok Heinrich Himmler.

What will be next? Round them all up into so called sanctuary districts, for their own protection of course, or make them wear some kind of a plaque on their garments so they can be easily identified?

What is outrageous is that not only mental illness is being equated with violent, criminal behavior but that all people with mental illnesses – which covers a broad spectrum of disabilities, most of which are not violent – are being lumped together as this one entity society must be aware and scared of.  The reality is that there are millions of people suffering from mental illness who would never engage in such a vile, inhumane act of mass murdering children.

Someone who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, after, hmmm.., let’s say having been a victim of violence with guns, or a school shooting, is technically considered as suffering from a mental illness. Someone suffering from depression and anxiety taking medication is considered an individual suffering from a mental disability; a person suffering from severe anxiety is considered mentally ill. To lump these people together with violent criminals – who may or may not be mentally ill, – becasue remember, not all people with mental illness are dangerous, and not all killers are mentally ill, meeting standards of psychiatric diagnosis – is as low as it can get and the height of irresponsibility and inhumanity.

NRA poll

La Pierre played quite expertedly into the irrational fears and scapegoating mentality of the minuscule minded gun wielding,  Jesus and cross hugging citizens of this nation by making references to those evil “killers, robbers, rapists, gang members” who have  “spread like cancer in every community across our nation” and from whom we need to protect ourselves by owning an arsenal of assault weapons and other tools for mass murder.  

The truth, of course, is that the only cancer having spread through society is the policies the likes of La Pierre and his organization of unregulated gun ownership advocates and the mindless tools that follow them advocate, believing that the answer to the problems of crime – or any problem for that matter in society – is arming every man, woman and child with all sorts of weaponry and sending them off into the world, as if guns – instruments aimed to kill – make us safer.

Imagine the principal of Sandy Hook had been armed with an assault rifle and after the first shot was fired and people were running around in panic  she had jetted out of her office with an AR 15 shooting into a crowd of children running in panic. According to the NRA, that would have been the solution, which, of course, is another comforting lie.

Living in a society with ordinary citizens armed to the teeth like guerrilla fighters, taking justice into their own hands, like George Zimmerman, and shooting into a crowd with moving targets, does not make us safer. This Dirty Harry and John Wayne mentality is only good for when the zombie apocalypse or another end-of-world scenario – mostly to be found in science fiction – is upon us. It is not the route rational people in a civilized society held together by the rule of law and the Constitution they allegedly trust in,  ought to embark on. We do not want to send our kids to school with the likes of George Zimmerman prowling the halls.

NRA’s Response to the Carnage at Sandy Hook At a Glance: 

1) Create a police state – TSA style security at every corner. A George Zimmerman in every neighborhood. I mean, we are all totally grateful that he protected us from the evils of a 17 year old child holding candy and we clearly need more of that.

2) Arm every man, woman and child with assault rifles like they were Snake Plissken. The more guns and tools of mass murder lie around, the safer we all will be since human beings are totally not prone to irrationality and rage over something like someone cutting them off on the freeway or giving them the wrong look at the grocery store etc.

3) Scapegoat everyone and everything for this: Women, pacifists, the mentally ill, video games and movies, entertainment industry, the doorman at the school…everyone but gun owners and the gun – a tool solely designed to take lives, nothing else. Apparently the gun is a very misunderstood tool for murder.

Great America. Moving towards a plutocratic police state one gun wielding,  Jesus chest-thumping, fear mongering, bigoted patriot at a time.

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Dehumanizing the Opponent: US Soldiers Pose with Body of Suicide Bombers in Afghanistan

When you want to sell a war that is going to cost people the lives of their sons and daughters, then obviously you cannot show the true face of war. You cloak it and shroud it in a romantic veil – like a hero movie, like something with honor. You turn it into an honorable and desirable act: fighting for one’s country, fighting for freedom.  But war is none of that. War is killing and destruction, leaving people emotional, physical and most importantly spiritual wrecks and there is no honor to be had in that.

When I see people in this country cheer for war, as if they were cheering for their favorite football team, I seriously doubt most truly comprehend what is involved here. I mean this is war; it means killing, it means ending lives and often it is for reasons most of us don’t understand, nor are likely to benefit from.

Last month, Staff Sargent Robert Bales massacred 17 innocent civilians in two small villages in Afghanistan, nine of which were children. He killed them in cold blood and then torched them. Today, pictures of  US troops have surfaced showing them posing with bodies of suicide bombers – as if they had gone hunting and are now posing for pictures with their kill to be placed in the country club trophy section. That is contemptuous and unacceptable behavior – war or not and it says a lot more about us than about the ones we are at war with.

One could argue that those suicide bombers are worthless human beings who don’t deserve any better. After all, they blow others to pieces.

But the point really is that it is not about them, it is about us. When we start acting like the terrorists and wrongdoers we condemn, we lose credibility and the moral high ground and thus the ability to judge. Killing is killing. Ending a human life, is ending a human life. Having no respect for life, is having no respect for life, regardless of who does it. It is not better or more acceptable when an American does it.

A soldier from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division with a dead insurgent's hand on his shoulder. It's one of 18 photos given to The Times of troops posing with corpse

Killing in war time should be seen and handled as a necessary evil, not as an enjoyable act to be memorexed. Such actions strip those committing them off their humanity. The suicide bombers was not born a suicide bomber, he was made into one. For whatever reason, circumstances in that person’s life lead him to take this path. But he is still a human being and no one should pose with a picture of their dead, charred bodies as if it were a sport. It is dehumanizing.

Dehumanizing the Opponent

In order to acquire such a mindset as we have seen in Bales and now with the above mentioned soldiers, you have to think of your enemy as unhuman, you have to view them as something much less than you, so that you can go out there and treat them accordingly without remorse. This, in turn, requires dishonoring and devaluing life itself.

The army and the propaganda machine they run, understand that; they need to in order to create efficient soldiers. They cannot have people on the field feeling remorse or questioning why they have to kill others. This is a wise strategic policy for warfare but such a mentality also backfires, resulting in the kinds of actions we have seen with Bales and various other similar incidences over the years in that regard.

Dehumanizing and disrespecting life is what Robert Bales did; that is what the soldiers above did and that is how most Americans view the people in the Middle East.  That is also precisely the reason why people continue cheering for war and why Robert Bales’ atrocities did not receive much outrage and public outpouring of condemnation. Even Anderson Cooper did not talk about the issue much and when it was talked about it was more in the context of trying to understand (read: find an excuse for)  Bales, rather than to truly condemn his behavior.

They did not even post pictures and biographies of his victims.  They remained face and nameless because posting pictures and telling us about who those children were would place a human face on those victims, which is the last thing the war department (DOD) in this nation needs.

Bales’ victims remain faceless for the same reason body bags containing the remains of US troops killed in combat are not allowed to be filmed, photographed or else broadcast. The moment people realize that these are human beings there whose lives have been extinguished, they will not freely embrace war and treat it like a team sport.

Cooperation and Diplomacy as the Paths to Peace

The use of force for self defense is justified. If you are being attacked, you have to defend yourself. Standing by and watching being killed is stupid and futile. However, that is where it should end.

Our problems as a society in particular, and human kind in general, cannot be solved through warfare and killing. They can be solved through cooperation and diplomacy and war, while sometimes a necessary evil, should be used sparsely and as the last resort. Something the United States and its people are yet to truly comprehend.

We have been in Afghanistan for ten years now –  we were in Iraq for almost the same amount. Thousands of people, mostly innocent, have lost their lives on both sides; US mothers and fathers and children who will never see their loved ones again. Innocent Iraqi and Afghan families that are just as much the victims of their society as those killed during the 9/11 attacks, have lost people in the most gruesome and atrocious ways.

There is nothing romantic in this; nothing heroic

The sad thing is that while we see these kinds of stories,  there are those who still cheer for another preemptive, baseless war.  This time against Iran. An act which will require dehumanizing your opponent as well as your own soul to be able to go in and pull the trigger and justify creating havoc and blood-shed once again – not to defend yourself, but to preemptively go against people whom you suspect, but have no evidence, are up to no good.

Fighting a war for a decade is insane and requiring young Americans to die and fight in a cause that was always unwinable, is without honor by our elected leaders.

The Public is to Blame

Unfortunately, the public is to blame for this as much as our elected leaders. Remember that they cannot do anything without our consent and unfortunately, the public has been supporting such wars.

A Pew Research Survey found voters strongly in favor of aggression towards Iran. “Of those following the Iran situation,” Pew finds, “54% say the U.S. should take a firm stand against Iran’s actions, while 39% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran.” Trevor Thrall at The National Interest picked up on this at the time, noting that “support for military action against Iran today is almost exactly the same as support for the invasion of Iraq right before the war began.” And that was after one of the most coordinated and aggressive propaganda efforts in American history.

These people were voted in, they didn’t just take over.

So if you are reading this and you are one of those people who voted for an official that signed off on the war but think that you are absolved of carrying any responsibility towards this since you did not personally pull the trigger, you are sorely mistaken and in high denial. There is as much blood on your hands as on the hands of those soldiers that have been rendered soulless.

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