The shootings in Newton, Connecticut continue to occupy my thoughts.
In part, it’s the identity of the victims. There is nothing more precious than children of that age – old enough to express themselves coupled with a complete absence of cynicism. Capable of the most hilarious – and often quite insightful – observations. The world is filled with wonder and hope for them, and not the sadness and misery adults too often see. My own child is now past those delightful years, but their memory is still fresh with me. And there was this (which was her school).
So yes, close to home in that way.
But there’s also how moments like this reveal the utter vapid and venal nature of the North American right-wing movement. The National Rifle Association has – wisely – gone into silent running. This is their last tweet:
But that hasn’t stopped others from unintentionally exposing the id. From former conservative blogging bigwig Jeff Goldstein’s primal scream, to CNN talking head Erik Erickson’s “It is not healthy for a nation to come together at tragedy so far removed from God” lament to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer who…well….who spouted off things like this:
Sublimely eloquent evisceration of Mr. Fischer here. Short form here:
It’s all empty. There are no intellectual underpinnings…just emotionalist outbursts. The closest is Glenn “Instapundit” Harlan who cites an academic study that purports to show “more guns = less crime”. Alas that study is this study. It also doesn’t help that he begins with a quote from William S. Burroughs:
“After a shooting spree,” author William Burroughs once said, “they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.” Burroughs continued: “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”
This is the same William S. Burroughs who shot his wife in the face while playing a drunk game of William Tell.
The most insightful comment I read yesterday was that the American
fascination with fetishization of guns was, in fact, the white American males’ fear of irrelevance. A safety blanket for those who fear they may no longer be top dog in a changing world. Despite the fact they, you know, continue to run things. But then who says fear is rational.
The last thing that has me concerned is – Stephen Harper having remade the Progressive Conservative Party of my father into the Republican Party – that dynamic is happening here. What is the public good in having the long-gun registry destroyed? What is the public policy purpose in reclassifying assault weapons of the type used in Newtown from “prohibited” (you can’t buy them) to “restricted” (you can buy them). American gun advocates at least attempt to couch it that an armed populace deters the government from behaving despotically. But not so here in Canuckistan. I suppose, like the long-form census, there is some mumbo-jumbo of it being “intrusive” that cites no constitutional or philosophical principle. But then there’s no problem with other irrational and likely unconstitutional intrusions. There certainly isn’t any statistical supporting evidence from the United States. Thus it seems to stem from, and designed to appeal to, the white male id and their fears of increasing irrelevance. So is clever play on the CPC’s part? Well, obviously it’s popular with a certain demographic but ultimately I don’t think the men of the CPC are that clever. I think they institute policies that appeal to insecure white men because they are insecure white men.
It’s not an original observation to say that – despite some lingering philosophical pretensions – the “conservative” movement exists solely to serve entrenched and privileged interests, both protecting directly as well as proactively targeting any group that might hypothetically challenge those interests. Example both there and, as mentioned above, here.
It looks ferocious, powerful and intimidating, but it’s at moments like this that it is crystal clear it’s an empty shell of armour – intellectually and morally bankrupt.
“What really promotes business in this country is liberty,” he said, “not demand for information.”
Congressman Daniel Webster. GOP-Fla
Mr. Webster and his brethren have introduced a bill to eliminate the American Community Survey, the equivalent of our own long-form census. It’s hard to argue with this logic. Truly…what is needed to run a business is not information, such as where to locate new stores using demographic data, but liberty, such as the liberty to build stores free from building codes.
Yesterday I was feeling optimistic. Today I’m feeling human extinction is a distinct possibility.
The Stephen Harper Govtm won’t allow the Cdn Forces to assist with flood cleanup for the most practical, non-ideological of reasons:
“Furthermore, the services you’re asking for — if they were authorized — would place the Canadian Forces in competition with the private sector, at the local or provincial level, which could perform this type of repair work.”
UPDATE: Not to be outdone, the Ontario Conservative party proposes to harness the great untapped prison labour force.
Admittedly it’s probably a pretty uncomfortable time to be one of those Canadians that considers themselves sober-minded and conservative looking over the border at what is happening to their ideological brethren. But you know things really aren’t going well when you can no longer bother defending it intellectually and instead desperately throw the yoke of false equivalency around the necks of “the other side” in an attempt to drag them down into the mud you find yourself in. This is what today’s editorial from the Ottawa Citizen awkwardly tries to do (published of course in today’s Sun). It sets itself up to be a “pox on both your houses” piece but the game is given away quite early. There’s one or two sentences about “oh sure the Tea Party is extreme” and “John Baird was silly to call Toronto elitist” but the overwhelming majority of the piece is an attack on a cariacture of the “Left”.
On the populist Right, members of the upstart Tea Party movement promote conspiracy theories to the effect that President Barack Obama wasn’t born American and is a secret Muslim. The noisy Left is not much better. Its members try to shut down anyone who disagrees with them on issues of taxes, immigration or mosques at Ground Zero by throwing accusations of xenophobia, racism and bigotry.
This, if I really need to point it out, is an example of things that are “not equivalent”. (And where the hell did the references to taxes come from? There are left-wingers favouring the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy who label those who don’t xenophobic, racist and bigoted? Really?). It’s pretty weak tea (Get it! Get it!) if you are going to call those who feel those opposition to Islamic community centre 2 blocks from Ground Zero doesn’t have the whiff of racism about it. As we know, all Muslims are responsible for the actions of individual Muslims. Christian and Jews are not, btw. “Islam” is a country, right, and it declared war on the United States on 9/11, just like when Germany attacked Pearl Habour to start the War of 1812. Or if you mention that groups that oppose immigration, like the Minutemen, seem to turn up at events that White supremacist groups attend too. Coincidence, I’m sure.
And so on. More:
The Left largely regards the Tea Party as a circus of the ill-educated and ignorant, and it demeans Tea Party leaders (Sarah Palin, for example) as little more than hicks. The Left, however, is forgetting the populist roots of its own progressive agenda (recall the 1960s’ counterculture movement).
Did you see what happened there? Did you follow the shells or the hands in this game of a paragraph? The “Left” might think the Tea Party ignorant and ill-educated, but they’re the same because – and allegedly – they both have populist roots. It’s almost as if “ignorant” and “ill-educated” has the same definition as “populist”. Also known as “popular”. And forget the New Deal, the labour movement, and others -> all left-wingers and progressives are descended from hippies.
So there! Neener neener!