Friday, July 20, 2012


Adam Gopnik one of the best New Yorker writers, says in reaction to the latest mass murder:
Of course, we don’t know, and perhaps never will, what exactly “made him” do what he did; but we know how he did it. Those who fight for the right of every madman and every criminal to have as many people-killing weapons as they want share moral responsibility for what happened last night—as they will when it happens again. And it will happen again.
Yes. This happens way too much in America. One thing we need to realize is that there are many prices we pay, as Americans, for our freedom and Federalism. We are a huge country, and each state is different enough from the other that what is a blessing for some areas is seen as a curse in the others. The problem with the gun situation is that the people who think they are a blessing seem to rarely be the victims.

As a country we seemed to believe that we would restrict our freedom when it comes to air travel and new immigrants in order to not have another 9/11. Yet we seem determined to retain the same freedom - for guns - that will allow domestic terrorism to run amok. I believe the same impulse is behind both aspects of this paradox - the same people who ruin air travel, and who never liked immigrants in the first place - are the same people who demand the guns. The impulse is either myopic xenophobia (which we don't own the patent for), or the adolescent need to have someone else pay for your pleasures.

America has at least two major cultures that at times conveniently line up to the red-state blue-state divide. But suffice it to say that the reason why the US will never truly be an enlightened moral leader of the free world has to do with the burden of the South (and, if necessary, all the Red States). They are the ones who (a) are the worst Xenophobes, (b) hate education in favor of backwards religion [note to surfers, I am a clergyman], (c) want to hit their own kids and lock up other kids in prison for adult crimes, (d) enjoy the death penalty (not support, these guys love it), and the list goes on.

Like many things, American exceptionalism and supremacy - something I grew up believing and want to exist - was a historical necessity during the Cold War. The world was divided into slave and free, seen as Communist vs. Non (South Africa for some reason was part of the 'free' team) and we were the biggest, baddest of the non-Commies. It helped that we weren't damaged by World War II. But even more crucial is that we are a huge unified land mass with crucial natural resources and bordered by two oceans. We have plenty of room for crops and industry, and being under one government allows a stupendous synergy for business. This means we'll never be out of the top 5 world powers - as long as we stay unified, see Russia and China for proof of this. And we're better off than those 2 because much of our land is useable and we have warm-water oceans.

Our might made us right, and thank God we were on the side of freedom. But one aspect of our freedom is that we allow less than half of the population residing in states that due to Federalism give them disproportionate electoral power. These 'freedom loving' states hate much of the world, and distrust anyone who doesn't look like themselves (case in point: Obama hatred... do you believe that people still think he's stupid? You can call him arrogant, aloof, even foreign - there's proof for all of that- but stupid? It makes sense only if you are an inveterate racist, of which there are many).

Is this the freedom we want in America? So far, our vision of freedom not only ensures we have an insane health care system, but also mass murder of our children.

No comments: