BY VERN TURNER
In one of George Carlin’s books, the introduction page has a quote from Hermann Goering, Hitler’s No. 2. It goes something like this: “Of course the people don’t want war, but if you keep telling them they are being attacked and that if they don’t follow the government’s policies, you accuse them of being unpatriotic. They will come along. On June 13, we had a re-visitation of that kind of propaganda from Donald Trump.
He used the massacre in Orlando, FL to platform his hate mongering, his fear-influencing and his abject disrespect for the American people. Not only did he debase anything and everything Muslim, but he also insulted dozens of administrations that have established immigration laws and policies, imperfect though they may be. But even this wasn’t enough for this shallow, infirm bigot. No, he had to obtusely implicate our president as being in on the game of Islamic terrorism. Roger Stone, a Trump surrogate, said that one of Hillary Clinton’s top advisors was possibly a Saudi spy or terrorist agent. This is the stuff of pulp fiction.
This is also the stuff of pre-World War II rhetoric from Nazi Germany that gave us the pogroms against the Jews. What will come from this if Trump is indeed elected president? Will it be yellow armbands? How about painting stars and crescents on shop windows – before somebody throws a brick through them?
Have we not learned a thing from the most destructive and deadly war in all of history? Have we lost sight of the horrors abject hate against a religion can perpetrate? How does our great country allow this shrieking lunatic to influence so many people and stoke their anger, hate and prejudices? Isn’t this the same thing as shouting FIRE in a theater? Where is the Republican Party’s restraint on this kind of neo-Nazi behavior? Oh. Right. They want to win the election no matter what. Ask the Germans who survived the war how that worked out for them.
The headlines have all been saying that the Orlando Massacre was the worst in American history. I’m not so sure about that. We forget the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado and the one at Wounded Knee in the Dakotas. Hundreds of women, children and old men were slaughtered by U.S. forces in those places. And who can forget the blue-on-blue massacre in Ludlow, CO? That was perpetrated by the Rockefeller bank hiring the Colorado National Guard to break a strike by miners for horrific working and living conditions. Women and children were murdered in their beds for denying profits to the mine owners. Killing Native Americans was about usurping the land in our “manifest destiny.” Yes, we make this stuff up as we go. It’s how politicians get elected.
So, no, Orlando wasn’t the worst American terrorist event even though 49 or 50 innocent people were killed and another 53 wounded. It was a crowded club. It was shooting fish in a barrel. It was primarily an LGBT crowd of Latin descent. The shooter had visited there several times.
The shooter also pledged allegiance to both ISIS and Hezbollah, two opposing poles in the world of Islamic terror. It would be like saying a leftwing extremist was a fascist; they are polar opposites.
The key point is that this unstable, confused and hateful person – whom the FBI had interrogated – was able to buy guns and ammunition to perpetrate this horrible event. This smacks more of an accumulation of systemic failures throughout our society, including our vaunted security apparatus.
Those failures begin with our love affair with guns. We “conquered” North America with guns and disease. We settled disputes in lawless regions with guns. We hunted and fed ourselves the meat we killed with guns. We committed near genocide of Native Americans with guns – guns used to kill their food sources, the buffalo, and guns to kill them when they tried to save their survival means from European incursions. Guns, like slavery and racism, are in our DNA as a nation.
I think that we are rapidly approaching the final tipping point where we will either become a fascist dictatorship run by onerous creatures like Donald Trump, or we will finally gain the civic courage to control ourselves from wanton killing by gun.
The United States kills more people by gun than all the warring nations on Earth combined every year. We have over 320 million people and about the same number of known privately owned guns. We kill almost 90 people per day by gunshot, legally, illegally or accidentally. Add to that the fact that more people die from a drug overdose every year than die in automobile wrecks. Oh, and 75% of those deaths involve alcohol, a legal drug.
Is it any wonder that we may be the most dangerous country in the world? What happened to our ideals? Our hopes? Our vision? Our faith in one another? The NRA is no longer just another club for men and their toys, it is the lobby of death.
This writer has been leery of the overt worship of guns in this country for a long time. The absurdity of people walking into stores, banks and schools armed to the teeth with assault weapons is sacrilege to the founders who had the misfortune to write the Second Amendment at the behest of the Southern states who wanted to maintain a militia to chase runaway slaves. We’re obviously still paying that price. But that’s not the point, is it?
The point is that we will not be truly free until we make the intellectual leap to civilize our capitalistic approach to everything such that it isn’t imperialistic and so conducive to war. We must make the intellectual leap to actually do something about the scourge of drugs in our society that acts as the engine for more killing in the countries supplying our drug users’ demands for more, more, more. Those countries hate us and disrespect us for having so many weak and stupid people who need and use so many illegal drugs. Hell, our own drug industry is adding to that by pushing habit-forming opioids on everyone. Why? To make money. Lots of money.
The poor people in other countries supplying our illicit drugs make more money off our addicts than any domestic job they can find at home. Our poor people buy, sell and use those drugs to soften the agony of their hopeless existence in the squalor of our inner cities. Why aren’t we addressing those issues with the same energy we are wasting on hating Muslims, LGBTs or any other group of the day?
Why aren’t we taking the money from building submarines, bombers and aircraft carriers and using it to re-build our cities while, at the same time, educating their denizens to the marketable skills needed to do so, as well as to use them rebuild our crumbling infrastructure in transportation, schools and recreation?
Maybe if we did these things, we wouldn’t be so inclined to shoot each other for no real reason.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.