By Jim Coufal
(Cazenovia, NY – Dec. 2012) The destruction of the Twin Towers by Islamic fundamentalists mirrored Pearl Harbor in once again revealing that we are not immune from foreign-based attacks without any declaration of war. Homeland Security and the Patriot Act have invoked security to take away many constitutional rights as we seek to minimize foreign terrorists.
But just who are the terrorists?
Think about who assassinated Abraham Lincoln? James Garfield? William McKinley? John F. Kennedy? Robert Kennedy? Martin Luther King? Medgar Evers? John Lennon? Who shot Ronald Regan? Who murdered the Mississippi Freedom Riders?
Before that, who lynched black Americans? Who hides out, armed to the teeth, as survivalists or white supremacists? Who honchoes and who belongs to the NRA?
Who were the perpetrators in the multiple slayings in Oklahoma? Colorado? Arizona? Oregon? Alabama? Connecticut and others?
The answer to the above is clearly MEN. And with a few exceptions (Squeaky Fromme) it is WHITE MEN. This says nothing of the robberies, aggravated assaults, rapes and other violent crimes, over 400,000 in 2011, involving firearms, with another 150,000 involving knives, or the124,000 arrests for weapons possession, mostly committed by white men.
To put a broader perspective on such crimes, in China, on the same day as the Sandy Hook shootings, a man slashed 20 people with a knife, with no fatalities. In Australia in 1996, a man killed 35 people in one afternoon of terror; quickly, with no pussyfooting that it wasn’t the right time to do it, Australia changed its relaxed gun laws to tougher ones.
There has not been a mass killing since.
Our homegrown terrorists are much more a threat than the foreign ones. In this year, by the end of June, there had been 228 Chicago homicides, compared to 144 military deaths in Afghanistan. The collapse of the Twin Towers caused about 3,000 deaths.
In 2009, the FBI statistics reported 15,503 homicides in the U.S. Another report said by June 2011, the U.S. had endured 128,000 murders since the start of the Iraq war. The number of military personnel killed in Iraq in the same time was 4,454.
In my mind, each human has value, but some get more publicity and attention than others.
We, especially Mothers Against Drunk Driving, rose up against drunken-driving and tough drunken-driving laws were passed, reducing the number of drunk driving fatalities.
If a child is killed in a crib accident, there is an immediate product recall. The crib was not built for the purpose of killing, but when a gun is used (so often) to kill another human, we seem to shrug our shoulders and say shit happens, and there is no recall or liability.
Maybe the latter is because guns do exactly what they are intended to do: kill.
We hear, “Now is not the time to take political advantage; we must wait to even talk about guns,” when now is EXACTLY the time to begin a dialogue. We have talked the issue to death, ugly pun intended. The time for action is NOW.
Guns have become an icon of our culture, almost sacrosanct in the way we treat them. We are apathetic or just plain allow things to go on until the next mass killing, even shrugging away the many family murder-suicides that fill our news.
To go back to the beginning herein, MEN are the major perpetrators of such hideous evil. I have no deep suggestions as to what this means or what should be done, just more or less random thoughts.
Does it mean we need more women legislators? Does it tie in to a false but dangerous machismo? And I can even see some men gasping at the idea of more women leaders of any sort (who were the major Wall Street bankers, brokers, etc.?).
Does this gun culture flow largely from certain regions of the country, or from certain religious groups?
Would genetic engineering to soften the male ego be an appropriate tool?
Does news coverage have a significant impact on our culture of violence? What about violent films, video games, rap songs?
Why does one mass shooting often get closely followed by another?
Why are violent television shows so popular, and why do they so often feature men, or women who act like men?
Is arming ourselves the way to curb violence?
Why has violence become the norm, become so accepted, and why is most of it perpetuated by men – white men?
As you move through Chittenango, Cazenovia or any of our beautiful area, you are not likely to see a foreign terrorist; but do be aware of the potential homegrown variety, and don’t be afraid to report them, with cause.
Jim Coufal of Cazenovia is a part-time philosopher and full-time observer of global trends. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.