With the US mass shootings epidemic claiming 17 more lives at a school in Florida, there has been a nationwide outcry against multi-million-dollar lobbying by the National Rifle Association. But how the NRA, and other corporate giants, wield power and influence over the US government is mostly concealed by the very laws meant to strengthen democracy.
Our country’s rocked by yet another mass shooting this time in Newtown, Connecticut. This time a 20-year-old kid, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their home then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he killed six adults including the principal and 20 children before killing himself.
McMaster university, Hamilton, Ontario January 15 2012.
Chris Hedges speaks to a full room of people at the Gandhi lecture on non violence. He clearly states that American gun culture is rooted in white supremacy and a fear of black people. Then states that the American founding fathers where enthusiastic about committing genocide.
The shooter of Congresswoman Giffords acted as a domestic suicide terrorist on the political “battleground” of American politics. His YouTube postings and “goodbye” phone messages are ominously reminiscent of the traditional farewell videos of Islamist martyrs.
The deadly combination of suicide terrorists’ mental instability, their political and religious indoctrination, and readily available bomb materials and firearms explode in violence almost every day somewhere in the Middle-East.
As some of my readers know, I am a public health physician. I recently had the opportunity to offer some remarks at a conference at the Yale School of Public Health on gun violence and public health. This Commentary is drawn from those remarks. I began by noting that when talking about this subject, the National Rifle Association is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. I noted at that conference that none of the other speakers, all of whom had government grant-funded research and intervention programs underway, mentioned the words “National Rifle Association.” All publicly funded, how could they? If one whiff, not of the gunshots that are so frequent in our society, but of criticism of the NRA coming from a publicly funded program got back to the NRA, giving its totally corrupting influence on the political process in our country, there goes that funding.
“Onward, Twisted Soldiers” Tilt Culture Wars into Cultures of Terror
If “pro-life” vigilantes who murder abortion doctors at church services imagine they advance the anti-abortion case, their logic is as contorted as their iniquity. The suspected Wichita shooter, according to his ex-wife, is “very religious, in an Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye way.” That kind of “religious” stamps him a “Christian terrorist,” especially since radical anti-abortionists have killed ten American doctors. If this be terrorism, then shouldn’t we scrutinize how this murderer got armed, just as we interminably addressed alleged weapons of mass destruction? When do we declare war on this jihad?
Though “eye for an eye” righteousness betrays Jesus’ mercy gospel, notorious evangelicals often explain human disasters as God’s wrath, however indiscriminate. Pat Robertson justified 9/11 attacks as God’s punishment for misdeeds, ranging from homosexuality to abortion to the ACLU. Later, he broke a top Ten Commandment, proposing our government “take out” Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez because assassination is cheaper than another “$200 billion war.” Remember the buffoon who vindicated Katrina carnage as God’s anger towards pagan New Orleans? Similar delusions inform those zealots defending the killing of abortion doctors as ridding the world of “mass baby murderers.” In this context, I recall Dubya’s dogmatic dictum, “You are either with us or against us.”
Fear resides in all living creatures. It’s what keeps us alive down at the watering hole or out on the street.
The fear of crime strikes all who live with its dread, as well as those who are personally victimized. Fear keeps us from doing what we want to do; it causes us to distrust friends and to view strangers with prejudice; and it can trick us into trading freedom for a false sense of security.
Many of us have grown up with an expectation that we have the right to a comfortable existence and that with education and hard work we can achieve a better than average life. Such naiveté has been mostly dispelled. Familiar patterns have been disrupted-perhaps forever.
Billions are owed on student loans by graduates who can’t find a job. Millions of hard-working people are suddenly out of work and unable to sustain their dreams. They are saddled with massive credit card debts and unpayable mortgages, and they find little relief in new bankruptcy laws that deny them the chance to obtain a fresh start.
The US Constitution has few friends on the right or the left.
During the first eight years of the 21st century, the Republicans mercilessly assaulted civil liberties. The brownshirt Bush regime ignored the protections provided by habeas corpus. They spied on American citizens without warrants. They violated the First Amendment. They elevated decisions of the president above US statutory law and international law. They claimed the power to withhold information from the people’s representatives in Congress, and they asserted, and behaved as if, they were unaccountable to the people, Congress, and the federal courts. The executive branch claimed the power to ignore congressional subpoenas. Republicans regarded Bush as a Stuart king unaccountable to law.
The Bush brownshirt regime revealed itself as lawless, the worst criminal organization in American history.
Now we have the Democrats, and the assault on civil liberty continues. President Obama doesn’t want to hold Bush accountable for his crimes and violations of the Constitution, because Obama wants to retain the powers that Bush asserted. Even the practice of kidnapping people and transporting them to foreign countries to be tortured has been retained by President Obama.
On January 31, 2009 a New York Times editorial (“Listening to Ms. Gillibrand) tore up the newly appointed Senator from New York. “She has 100% support from the NRA,” they roared. And as for her position on illegal immigration, well, oh my!
Well, my usual knee-jerk reaction to such a writing would be “well, we’ll get her in 2010.” But even before I saw that editorial I had received two other communications. One, from the Planned Parenthood Federation cheered New York Governor Patterson’s appointment (clumsily handled though it was). The PPFA had already given her a 100% as a Congressperson. And then I heard from the Lesbian and Gay (political) Alliance: she is in favor gay marriage! You read that right. Not just “domestic partnership” (otherwise known as second class citizenship status) for gay couples. But full marriage rights? The Times, stretching the definition of what a “liberal Democrat” is, claimed that “gay marriage is a non-starter even among liberal Democrats like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer,” but tossed off Sen. Gillibrand’s endorsement of it by saying words to the effect of she’s only for it because Gov. Patterson is.
This is the story of two Marys. Both are in their early 60s, heavyset, with curly reddish hair. But for years they have worked on opposite ends of the same issues. Mary McFate is an advocate of environmental causes and a prominent activist within the gun control movement. For more than a decade, she volunteered for various gun violence prevention organizations, serving on the boards of anti-gun outfits, helping state groups coordinate their activities, lobbying in Washington for gun control legislation, and regularly attending strategy and organizing meetings.
Mary Lou Sapone, by contrast, is a self-described “research consultant,” who for decades has covertly infiltrated citizens groups for private security firms hired by corporations that are targeted by activist campaigns. For some time, Sapone also worked for the National Rifle Association.
But these two Marys share a lot in common—a Mother Jones investigation has found that McFate and Sapone are, in fact, the same person. And this discovery has caused the leaders of gun violence prevention organizations to conclude that for years they have been penetrated—at the highest levels—by the NRA or other pro-gun parties. “It raises the question,” says Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “of what did she find out and what did they want her to find out.”
I have heard and seen much right wing propaganda over this issue and I call it propaganda because of what I have found in the record. Over and over we are still being used and pumped with talking points so I decided to look at this issue myself as I am a legal gun owner and want my rights protected while at the same time I also want to make it difficult for criminals to acquire them.