Gun violence in the US is THE unacknowledged shadow of an American Empire.
By E.F Nicholson
Once again a shocking and horrific gun massacre has taken place in Orlando, USA. Americas worst yet, in a wave of other gun fuelled bloodbaths, that seem unstoppable. In the US in 2016 so far there has been 146 mass shootings and a total of 6106 deaths from gun violence. Massacres are just one of many of the US’s gun problems. Add to that gun crime homicide, suicide with guns, accidental gun deaths and police killing citizens, massacres are just the most sensational and crudest form of this gun violence.
Predictably we hear the stump speeches given on both sides of the political spectrum, Republican’s desperately cling to the notion of this being a “terrorist attack” as if somehow this minimises what it is, yet another shocking episode of gun violence. In addition shouting the absurd logic that we need “bullets flying, to stop the bullets flying” thus twisting the immovable right of the 2nd amendment. A right guaranteed under the US constitution, written 229 years ago, to trump all logic and reason 229 years later. If “arms” covers all other weaponry beyond the musket gun, why doesn’t it include hellfire missiles as part of the right to bear arms? The fact is it doesn’t, shows that it’s not the “right to bear arms” that’s being protected; rather the right of gun manufactures to continue to make massive profits.
Then the whole Alex Jones “You will not take our guns” rant that citizens need to be able to stock pile guns to protect itself from potentially its own tyrannical government, proves it’s futile everytime an example of what that looks like plays itself out. As any armed citizenry opposition to the states monopoly on violence always ends the same. Think recent Oregon ranchers or Waco style stand-off’. If the government want to take your guns they will, period.
Then the Democrats roll out the predictable “need for gun control” while assuring the public it doesn’t want to take their guns, heavens forbid. Of course it’s true and makes common sense that this can make difference. As countries like Australia have shown that stricter gun control, background checks, banning of certain type of guns ect.. will make it harder for the “scale” of the these crimes to be commited. So if these type of reforms can be brought about, all the better. Yet in the US it will only address the problem regarding “scale”. Let’s create legislation so when a disturbed, hate-filled persons wants to take their wrath on innocent bystanders, just unlucky enough to be attending primary school, the cinema or a nightclub, he can only successfully kill 2, 3 or 4 , rather 25, 24 or 50 people. That’s it. What can’t be mentioned is the Pandoras box of violence that has been opened in the US cannot be sealed shut without some kind of large scale societal transformation. As the problems the US Empire faces internally, can not be divorced from the external machinery of its empire. Hilary Clinton after the Orlando massacre made the standard post massacre speech stating…
“On Sunday, Americans woke up to a nightmare that’s become mind numbingly familiar. Another act of terrorism in a place no one expected. A madman filled with hate, with guns in his hands, and just a horrible sense of vengeance and vindictiveness in his heart, apparently consumed by rage against LGBT Americans, and by extension, the openness and diversity that defines our American way of life.
We should take a moment today amid our busy lives to think about them, to pray for everyone who was killed, for the wounded, those who are fighting to regain their lives and futures, for our first responders who walked into danger one more time. As a mother, I can’t imagine what those families are going through.”
All of what Clinton states is true. A nightmare of massive proportions, fuelled by rage and terror and has ended, traumatised and damaged innocent lives, of which we should pray and our hearts should go out to. Whatis absent is these same sentiments, prayers and outrage for the victims of American Empire’s violence, rage and terror. It’s the ongoing nonexistence of concern for “our victims” that makes her outrage, or any of the political establishment or media pundit’s outrage, disingenuousness, trite and empty of all authenticity.
As this concern for the loss of innocent lives comes from the same woman who as Secretary of State, lead the charge for regime change in Libya, resulting in massive civilian deaths and transforming Libya in to a failed state. She legitimised a right wing military coup in Honduras, opening the way for hundreds of innocent dissenters to be murdered. In addition she approved billions of dollars in arms to sales to regimes that have a history of human rights abuse. All those choices directly caused the loss of innocent life. Yet because its all in the interest of American Empire, those lives don’t count, those people aren’t mourned and double standards and hypocrisy seemed to go unnoticed.
The US’s empires scale of violence and murder is so far reaching, pervasive and ongoing, it’s hard to even fathom. Just in the last 15 years alone in the pursuit of US economic interests via the “war on terror” it has left 1.3 million dead, mostly civilians, across 3 countries. You then add the enabling and propping up of third world coups and dictatorships it adds even further numbers to the murderous tally that is on US hands.
There is no doubt the US is the number one dominant empire in the world today. When competing, smaller empires such a Russia and China are accused of “aggression” notice these involve actions surrounding their own territorial waters or land. Can people even imagine Russian drones assassinating US citizens in Texas? Could they envision Chinese warships patrolling the Gulf of Mexico and then as the US reacts it gets accused of being “aggressive”?
Iran captured a US military vessel in its waters and the media deemed it an “act of aggression”, which shows the absurd of the mindset of the American Empire. If you look at the US empire’s military presence around the world it is everywhere. With 700 to 800 military bases around the globe and the world largest employer, the cost of this colossal power and dominion seems to go unquestioned. In most of the third world the US is not seen “in danger” the US is the danger. Yet all the plundering, murdering and conquering does have psychological cost to the nation that pays for, promotes and props up this empire. As it is ok to venerate and worship of the US military and the supreme violent force they represent in the world, yet when a citizen embodies those same reckless and sociopathic forces, the same state that enables violent acts throws their hands up in shock and dismay. Hilary’s line
On Sunday, Americans woke up to a nightmare that’s become mind numbingly familiar.
Could be easily replaced with……
On Sunday, villagers in Yemen murdered by a US drone strike woke up to a nightmare that’s become mind numbingly familiar.
On Sunday, citizens of Gaza, once again woke up to a nightmare that’s become mind numbingly familiar.
Yet instead of a lone gunman, even more depressing and impossible to defeat it is an empire or proxy force of an empire, that is the architects of the terror and horror they face. They don’t have a Government to protect them, as it is a government that is inflicting the violence.
What is telling as the detail of the this Orlando massacre comes to light, is the shooter being less a terrorist of isis and more of closeted gay man full of so much self-loathing, he inflicted his own inner hatred of his sexuality on those guilty of only being open and honest about their own. As Nafeez Ahmed points out his broad assessment of what’s occurred
There are many threads to this tragic, horrifying story of a gay American son of an Afghan mujahid. There’s the blowback theme; the deep politics of military intervention and the military industrial complex; clash of cultures and the crisis of multiple identities; and ultimately, the destructive force of repressed sexuality.
The shooting in Orlando is a symbolic and literal link to an American Empire and its accumulative collective shadow .The US’s own dark deeds and history (that it has managed with very calculated propaganda to shield and fool an unwitting public from) is gradually seeping its poison into its own backyard. The rise of Trump’s razzle dazzle fascism, is just another aspect of the shadow of American empire bringing itself to the surface. America’s gun violence problem, its poisoned water supply, its spied on citizenry, its mass incarceration,the systematic racism, widespread debt peonage, its absolute bought and corrupt political process and all its other ills will remain and continue grow as the malaise darkens and deepens in its destructive force, until some kind of honest and genuine acknowledgement occurs about the reality of whole collective personality.
You often see in these true crime stories of the mafia boss or serial killer that commits all these horrendous crimes as part of the outer persona but then plays the role of supposed “family man” at home .Yet most often or not the toxicity and barbarism of the their outer life does show up in the family home. Various roles in dysfunctional family of origin such as scapegoat, hero or invisible child show up as outer ways of expressing or coping with the traumatised wounds of the family that remain unspoken.
The American Empire’s exploitation and industrial scale of murder and mayhem abroad does show up in its family of origin. Yet years of being told “we are the good guys” creates a layer of denial that is extremely hard to penetrate. A really interesting video is doing the rounds on social media of former CIA officer who worked undercover the Middle East where she describes a debriefing with an Al Qaeda agent,
“He said all these movies that America makes — like Independence Day, and the Hunger Games, and Star Wars — they’re all about a small scrappy band of rebels who will do anything in their power with the limited resources available to them to expel an outside, technological advanced invader. ‘And what you don’t realize,’ he said, ‘is that to us, to the rest of the world, you are the empire, and we are Luke and Han. You are the aliens and we are Will Smith.’”
Even though I don’t see radical Islam as the “good guys” it doesn’t change the fact that this way of looking at it is a better match of how American Empire is experienced by its victims across the world. If the average American citizen really saw the US army as “Stormtroopers” ruled over by the “Dark-side”, not the good-hearted rebels, wouldn’t that better explain why the country is so unhinged and dysfunctional?
Many Americans can’t truly comprehend how much the extent of their wealth and luxury is built on the conquest and violence of Empire. The richest and most powerful military force in the world has got there and remains there by the use of force, violence and unquestioned entitlement. All obscured by a veil of jingoism, lies and empty slogans and hubris. All that external force outward, to hold together empire, creates and internal shadow, karma and cost inwards. It’s showing more and more and it will continue to do so and it will get worse the longer its denied and sincere remorse is avoided and dismissed.
Real and lasting hope for American society will come, not from minor changes to the veneer of the social fabric but rather from genuine honest acknowledgement of what it has done, what it is doing and what it has become. For that, the “lie and deny” machine that is the mainstream media needs to be seen through and the truth of the crimes committed abroad, the crimes committed on its own population are faced, acknowledged and owned up to. How that will happen, or if that will happen, I have no idea. What I do know is that until it is, life in the heart of the American Empire will get worse. The shadow will grow darker and just like the Orlando shooter, the violent and hideous actions American Empire commits outwardly, will eventually be inwardly the cause of its own destruction and demise.