Yesterday was a proud day in America: Christina-Taylor Green was buried, and a Springfield, Massachusetts, jury acquitted a former police chief on involuntary manslaughter charges for the death of Christopher Bizilj. If you’re a typical American, you’ll need your oh-so-short memories refreshed. Green was the nine-year-old who was among the six murder victims of Jared Loughner’s rampage in Arizona; Bizilj was an eight-year-old who was allowed to fire an Uzi at a gun show, lost control of it, and blew off the top of his own head.
Unlike many Americans, I didn’t cry over either of these events. Cold-hearted? Nope; just weary. I’ve seen it all before and just as sure as the earth revolves around the sun, I’ll see it again--soon and often. Spare the tears. Until Americans have the collective guts to take back the nation from rightwing nut jobs and alter the second amendment, we’ll see lots of these tragedies.
Back in the 1960s virtually every group even remotely critical of the government--from the violent Weathermen to the pacifist American Friends Service Committee--was infiltrated by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Most were broken up. So why do we continue to drag out Bill Ayres, Ray Luc Levesseur and the forty-plus-year-old crimes of the left and ignore those of the right? Why is it that every crime committed by the right is--as the Tea Party, the Palin Shiites, and Beck’s Bombers insist--the actions of single deranged individuals? Horseshit! There’s a discernible pattern here for anyone with the guts to call it.
How about infiltrating Operation Rescue? Since 1983 anti-choice fanatics have murdered eight people at clinics, have issued 383 death threats, have been charged in 17 attempted murders, have committed 153 assaults, and have kidnapped three people. Another two hundred bombings and arsons were thwarted. Should I go on? Let’s mention a few other rightwing atrocities: Unabomber Ted Kaczynski (1985-95), Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma City massacre (1995), Columbine (1999), James von Brunn and the murder at the Holocaust Museum (2009)…. Since 1995 there have been seventy-five major incidents of rightwing violence in the USA. So spare me all the pious crap about 60s radicals, wake up, look at the calendar, and demand that current domestic terrorist groups come under scrutiny.
And get real. Does hate-laced speech play a role in promoting violence? Of course it does! Were some of those who took the bait unbalanced? Probably. But that makes a case for not inciting them, not excusing the irresponsible behavior of fools like Sarah Palin. It’s pretty simple. If you talk trash about taking somebody out, print a map with his or her location, and plaster a target over it, somebody’s going to take you seriously. The pious denials of the right remind me of King Henry II who, in a drunken rage, demanded to know if there was no one in his kingdom who would rid him of Thomas a Beckett. It was too late to say you didn’t mean it after the deed was done in the 12rth century, and it has been ever since.
Now let’s get totally real. If you want the violence to abate--and only dreamers think we can eliminate all of it--there’s just one way: take away the guns. Or, at the very least, put severe restrictions on them. The second amendment gets treated like it’s one of the Ten Commandments. Some times it seems as if the only parts of the Constitution that ever get read by the right are the second amendment and the tenth (states’ rights). There is no other amendment that is treated with such a literal reading as the second, and no other part of the Constitution that’s viewed as similarly unalterable. We, for example, put all manner of limitations on the first amendment: libel and slander laws, public safety restrictions, licensing requirements for public assemblies, laws against distributing certain types of material, movie ratings, anti-pornography laws….
How about similar restrictions on the second, and please don’t insult me by saying that pathetic background checks are “restrictions.” I’m not upset that the police chief supervising the gun show was acquitted, as I don’t for a moment believe he wanted Christopher Bizlij to die, but can we ask a different question? Why in hell does any American need an Uzi in his hands, let alone an eight-year-old? Let’s ask a few more. Why does any person not in law enforcement or the military need a clip gun? Shoot Bambi with one of those and all you’ll put on the table in mince and bone. Why not restrict weapons to a single shot per trigger pull? If Loughner had to take time to re-aim each time, someone could have tackled him before he sprayed the area with bullets.
Those are your choices folks: investigate the crazies and take away their most destructive toys. The only other one is to pretend (once again) that every future tragedy is an isolated and unpreventable anomaly. That, I suspect, is what we’ll do. When the next Arizona spree happens, don’t ask me to shed tears for that one either.
Listen to this wonderful cut-through-the-crap song from Cheryl Wheeler. She says it better than I.