The Prodigal Nation


The Pornography of Firearms; the Irresponsibility of Language, And The Apologetics of Cowardice in Late-Stage American Democracy


By W.D. Noble

By now, most of you know that a gunman (possibly with an accomplice) shot and killed nine people (wounding several others, including a U.S. Congressperson) at a political gathering in Tucson, Arizona.

In spending the last few hours reading the missives on both sides of the political spectrum, plus their voluminous comments, I’m left to ponder what’s not being said – not just the lack of reason, but the huge holes in all this verbiage which ignore the elephants in the room.

This rank ignorance actually bespeaks our reaction to the 9/11 terrorism. We wasted a lot of breath, accusing one group or another, demonizing their ideologies and demanding ‘justice-at-the-end-of-a-rope’ – without doing what was really necessary: Evaluating our own culpability.

The Pornography of Firearms

America is a nation which, from the very beginning, was and is defined by firearms. We used them to hunt; to kill the original occupants of this land; to kill each other. We killed British soldiers by the wagonload, and when they gave up and went home, we killed each other again, first in small numbers (the Whiskey Rebellion comes to mind); then in massive numbers during our Civil War thanks to our uniquely American inability to compromise and our improvement of the technology of small-arms.

We took that culture out West, where we resumed killing natives; shooting game for their horns and skins (leaving the rest to rot in the sun) – and when all else failed and boredom (plus a liberal dose of alcohol) set in, we resumed killing each other.

Occasionally, in order to keep a lid on things, we’d stand one of the more-egregious perpetrators (or several at a time) on a wooden contraption with a rope around their necks – and kill them, too, for the high entertainment of the people in a region. Bets were normally taken on who’d die last, as evidenced by the final twitching of extremities.

Never quite satisfied, we did something our German relatives across the pond would do some ninety-odd years later, and improve the technology of legal killing. As with so many things American, ours was bush-league and amateur in scope; our electric-chair was an ungainly, expensive, and crude device; our gas-chambers only held one or two people at a time.

All the while, the killing went on – in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s, while we experimented with another of our inane attempts to legislate morality (by way of forbidding the manufacture and sale of alcohol), the nation descended into an orgy of automatic weapons-inspired murder by rival gangs protecting both turf and the means of illegal alcohol production.

(Eventually, the government did one of the few sane things it did in the 20th century, telling the Second Amendment fools to put a sock in it while they passed two regulations on same – the general-public were no longer allowed to purchase automatic weapons without severe licensing requirements, and we no longer allowed firearm sales to children.)

We lost our common-sense in the decades which followed, along with our very sense of self – the ultimate Prodigal Nation – to the extent that it’s now easier to buy ammunition in most American cities than it is to buy booze. Everyone who wants a gun can buy one. (Hell; I’ve got several. There’s a difference, though. I’m not crazy – but again; I digress).

Our fixation with firearms – bordering not only on worship, but also on a form of outright lust – is easily combined with our popular culture. From childhood, we’re inured to the effects of the bullet: Movies, the new technology of videogaming; magazines; advertising – is all steeped in an orgyistic/orgasmic culture of violence. In this alternate-universe we’ve created for ourselves, both big, muscular men and tall; big-breasted/round-hipped women aren’t objects of respect for any reason – they’re objects of sexually-tinted violence; using fantastic weapons to blow opponents, male and female alike, into pieces.

Want to run your own gang? Go to the video store. Buy one of any number of games. Form a gang. Go steal cars; deal drugs; gain points and other positive ‘rewards’ (like more big-breasted women). You ‘win’ this game not for being or doing good. You’ll never find a videogame called “Homeless Shelter Volunteer IV”.

Go to any newsstand (I know; print-media newsstands are becoming thin-on-the-ground in every American city; we gave up reading a long time ago) and find a copy of Shotgun News. Open it to any random page. Look at the ads. You’ll be seeing an Amazonian model with some fantastically-equipped firearm. Sex sell, and it sells nowhere better than to the American gun-owner, who has been pseudoreligiously indoctrinated in the twin beliefs that his penis will be imbued with some magic and his ‘god given rights’ affirmed – if he only drops another $1,500 on that new automatic rifle.

So, it’s small wonder, with a pornographic environment surrounding the gun-trade, that Jared Loughner became seduced. His YouTube site, full of death-metal music, disjointed ramblings and flag-burning, was ample proof. Those who encountered him likely dismissed his behavior – in a nation full-up with crazy, one more card-carrying member of the club is easily lost in the crowd.

The Irresponsibility of Language

Turn on any radio. At all hours of the day or night, you’re going to hear crazy-talk. It’s literally impossible to ignore.

Don’t like radio? Turn on the television. Glenn Beck. Bill O’Reilly. Rush Limbaugh. Ken Ham. Idiocy abounds. Beck calls for the poisoning of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Limbaugh, calling for ‘second amendment remedies’ to the current administration.

Sarah Palin – putting crosshairs on people she doesn’t want reelected, and making comments like, “don’t retreat; reload.” Sharron Angle, stating flatly that “…people are really looking to those Second Amendment remedies.” Michele Bachmann, saying that she “…wants people armed and dangerous” to the government. Only in America – and third-world shitholes like Liberia – do firearms have a respected place at the negotiating table of politics.

Charles Pierce, in his book, “Idiot America” said that there was a difference between a lovable crank and a genuinely dangerous person – because when a crank took to the airwaves, he or she doesn’t care if their ideas are accepted; the current dangerous crop of pseudojournalists have assembled cult-followings – primarily from the worshippers of war-and-firearms-pornography. “They spew bilious nonsense from 600 stations at 50,000 watts each”, said Pierce.

That’s the difference. With influence far beyond their numbers and a message which is both irresponsible and dangerous, their language has planted the seed in hundreds, if not thousands of heads across America.

The lot of them have blood on their hands.

The Apologetics of Cowardice

Martin Luther King once said, “one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand. You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

The Left, for all of the rhetoric regarding ‘hope’ and ‘change’ has abandoned the field without so much as a peep. Anyone with the ability to connect “A” to “B” can see that the Right, with its hands clean and a shiteating grin on its collective face, can point to Loughner and the thousands like him to follow and say, “See! He’s just a lone crazy! Our hands are clean! Clean; I tell you! Now go away!”

Incredibly, the Left will meekly say, “Oh! All right!” and walk away from the best clear chance to do something about the nation’s hardon for weapons and its inability to solve a problem without violence.

Some time ago, I said that if the Right perceives that it’s going to lose an argument, it pulls a metaphoric .357 Magnum from its back-belt and pumps six rounds in the chest of Reason. I’ll go one better here – they’ve not only done that, but they’ve done so in the relative safety of arm’s-length surrogate warfare.

Why dirty one’s hands when it’s possible to get the blind, halt, lame, and crazy to do it for you?

I’ll say this again – it’s time to pick a side. We can no longer be, as Professor Walter Herbert said, ‘a nation of weeping executioners’ – people who blubber their concern for the demise of the nation, but who do nothing at all about it.

We of the Left have engaged up to this point in the apologetics of cowardice – we’ve every clear excuse; but no reason – for abdicating morality to the thugs with the .357’s.

Don’t be surprised if, one random afternoon, you’re caught in the crossfire.

About astranavigo

Astra is one of the clever monkeys occupying space on the Third Planet From The Sun. While it was an early wish of Astra's to be one of the first to go to Proxima Centauri, he knows this is not to be; instead, you can find him here (some of the time) using simple tools to create communication. Holding up a mirror and saying 'Looky! Mistofer Emperor! Y'ain't wearin' no clothes!" is but one of the services he provides here. Others are subverting prevailing wisdom, peeing in people's Cheerios, trashing on their Imaginary Friends (he does this a lot,) and shifting paradigms without benefit of a clutch. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes he'll never have to learn the true meaning of some of his dystopian fiction.

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13 Comments on “The Prodigal Nation”

  1. Will, I believe I’ve pointed this out to you before somewhere, but it bears repeating: the “Left” in the USA would be called the “Centre-Right” anywhere else in the world. Since the US political space is basically divided between the Right, Far Right and Ultra-Right, the Right finds it no effort to cave in to the Righter. A true Left Wing will never exist in the US unless Americans consciously ditch the two-party system.

  2. Bill – I happen to agree with you; I use those terms here because most of my readers are from the U.S., and they’d be hard-pressed to relate to anything else.

    In point of fact, the far Right has sucked so much political oxygen out of the national discourse (you’ve heard me say this before) that they’ve pulled the whole thing to the right-hand side of the radio-dial, where we have the likes of Limbaugh, O’Reilly, et. al. In truth, the Left in America died out with the failure of the Great Society under Johnson; the assassination of Robert Kennedy was the final nail in that political coffin.

    Gone are the true Liberals of old – what replaced them were a group of pandering fools who have more in common with Reagan than Roosevelt.

    Point taken – and again; agreed.

    -W

  3. The left foot is a clumsy fella, rarely keeping up with the right or knowing where to place itself when it dances. This awkwardness very much characterizes America’s left. It wants to be a pacifier. It compromises, while on the right, its proponents say, there can be no compromise. The Bill of Rights have only become a bill of convenience. It’s convenient for the free market to maintain firearm sales. Freedom of religion, speech, pursuit of happiness (gainful employment, education, self-determination) are not so convenient, so they are subtly but steadily sifted aside for the right to exploit and freedom from consequences. We’ve given ourselves the right to squander at the expense of our future as a strong, affluent Nation. In dancing, as in sports, gymnastic, whatever you do with the right, you must also do with the left. It’s time to quit dragging the left foot along like so much dead weight. We’re clumsy and out of balance.

  4. [Quote=article]Eventually, the government did one of the few sane things it did in the 20th century, telling the Second Amendment fools to put a sock in it while they passed two regulations on same – the general-public were no longer allowed to purchase automatic weapons without severe licensing requirements, and we no longer allowed firearm sales to children.[/quote]

    And you think that the government did this because it was “sane” to do it? Hardly – the establishment realized that, for the first time in history, the average person could hold firepower comparable to that of the state in his own possession. This meant that the state’s monopoly on force would be compromised: which would bring an end to its rule – I’m convinced that this whole “prohibition” nonsense was a psyop to create uncontrolled violence in the streets so that the state had an excuse to start regulating weapons (does that sound far-fetched? just look at how the “war on drugs” or “war on terror” are being waged today…)

    I have no problem with guns (hell, I maintain my own arsenal), but the state certainly does – guns in the hands of sovereing individuals limits their ability to rule over us. I am not afraid of some lone psycho in a crowd shooting at people as I have the means to kill him before he kills me: I *am* afraid of living at the mercy of a police state because said state took away the most effective means of repelling government-sponsored thugs under the guise of “public safety.”

  5. @ Bill,

    Why does the idea sound so far-fetched to you? Not only can they do it, historically they have done just that and continue to do so! What do you think the Viet Cong was comprised of? Primarily farmers! Who do you think composes the various guerrilla units opposing the U.S./NATO troops in the Middle East (and are presently winning, BTW)? Once again, farmers and pastoralists!

    The key to success in a guerrilla conflict is to avoid pitch battles (in which state-sponsored armies generally have the advantage), pick off supply convoys and remaining undetected until its too late for the larger opponent to properly react – with such techniques, civilians can and *do* defeat powerful military forces. I thought that a history buff like yourself would have known this…

  6. What a guerrilla army can do is, at the most, not lose. The idea of a guerrilla army is to drain the enemy and exhaust it. In the case of the US, all you’ll have is a clutch of very disparate armed groups with their own agendas fighting a messy civil war. It would be much, much more like Lebanon 1975 than Vietnam 1967.

    I should point out that it wasn’t the Vietcong who defeated the South Vietnamese. It was the regular North Vietnamese Army.

  7. Guerillas, as opposed to start-up bands of rebels, are extremely tenacious. They can keep their movement underground for years, striking only when opportunity presents itself. Guerillas liberated Nicaragua and El Salvador. While drug issues explode along the U.S. border, the conflict fuels the revolution in Southern Mexico; a revolution that has been thirty years in the making. Guerrilas don’t change the colors of their ideologies. They don’t give up or surrender. They only grow old and die.

  8. Besides, Christopher, there’s the simple fact (as anyone who has read Che Guevara’s treatise on guerrilla war knows) that guerrilla warfare isn’t a simple job. It requires a very high level of discipline, co-operation and resilience in the face of adversity. A collection of armed civilians isn’t a guerrilla movement; it’s just a collection of armed civilians. Without training, organisation or common agreed goals, it’s at best a rabble, and can be swept aside by any half-competent organised force. I don’t see the various streams of anti-establishment opinion in the US coming together on anything, can you?

  9. @ Bill,

    I never implied guerrilla warfare was easy – that said, it does work and there are resistance movements forming here and said resistance is coming from the working classes of society (i.e. regular civilians with guns – training in their spare time independant of any military force). I’d love to say more about that, but doing so would compromise ops: if you want to know more, you’ll either have to join a militia yourself or just wait for things to pan out over the next few years.

  10. Bill, you’re pretty spot-on about Che’s experience in Cuba – however, the cautionary tale here is that this isn’t Cuba, either.

    Remember, even with agreed goals, discipline and training – the revolution he attempted in Bolivia never took off – the government had the upper hand politically, largely because the populace was in thrall to a well-oiled government-run propaganda machine.

    That said, revolution in America is possible – it’s possible anywhere, even when the populace are semiliterate peasants with few weapons. What’s required is that the government fuck up the unspoken contract between any government and its people: We’ll genuinely look out for your interests if you work together with us.

    Eventually, people get tired of supporting empires which debase their currency and trample their inherent human rights (France; late-1700’s); starve them systematically and send them to war (Russia; early-1900’s); or outright abuse them, while doing all of the above (Cuba-1950’s).

    What the Soviets never learned was that while it’s possible for a time to keep disparate peoples together in a ‘union’, they’ll eventually fragment along ethnic and values lines.

    We avoided a revolution in the early part of the last century because Roosevelt and McKinley broke up the large trusts, instituted an income-tax, and began the process of wealth-redistribution which was tearing Russia apart, even then. We avoided it during the Great Depression by realizing that a safety-net was a cheap way to keep people from starving in the streets – one of the fundamental situations which lead to modern revolutions like France and Russia.

    We are going to either re-learn those lessons, or Balkanize along regional/values lines.

    That, too, is a ‘revolution’. My bet is that, while revolutions take many forms, this one is going to be red-and-slippery, to quote James Kunstler.

    –W

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