FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Another “Round” Fired by the NRA at America

The United States is breaking records for domestic massacres at a rate nearly superseding that of heat records wilting with every passing summer scorching day.  The latest mass shooting occurred yesterday in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was just preceded by a worker in Milwaukee who went “postal” and shot his manager dead, before turning the gun on himself.  Wisconsin has just observed the fifth such mass killing in the past 8 years. The state’s employment environment is precarious.  Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in June, the most recent month for which records are available.  Moreover, its job creation record the past 12 months has also been one of the worst in the United States.  Yet, a mere forty years ago people in Milwaukee enjoyed full employment and mean wages 30% above the national average, along with the least inequality between white and African-American workers.  Today sees the inverse.  Now with wages 30% below the national mean and the greatest inequality between white and African-American labor in the United States, Milwaukee and its suburbs are rife with division and tension.  Fueling hatreds are shout-radio jocks injecting xenophobic rants as matches into the tinder of people’s economic insecurity.

Once a stalwart of enlightened progressive values, the area has descended into a state of high anxiety and finger pointing as the problems people face mount daily.  Milwaukee now personifies the once typical northern industrial region that had high-value added, high-pay factory jobs with benefits, later traded away by the “job creators” of the Bain Capital ilk and replaced by low paying jobs with no benefits of the type heralded by Bain’s two “successes,” Dunkin Donuts and Staples.  Quick kills on Wall Street made road kill of the Wisconsin worker and middle class American Dream.

The local police are treating the massacre as “domestic terrorism”.  The perpetrator, Wade Michael Page, was an itinerant white supremacist military veteran who only resided in Wisconsin for a short time.  We don’t know if the divisions created in Wisconsin specifically or the United States generally had any impact on him.  Regardless, he marched into a Sikh temple and started unloading rounds on unsuspecting victims.  America, an often violent country with a significant number of people who once bullied like to bully others, was unfortunately true to form in this tragedy targeting people of one of the world’s most peaceful faiths.  What we know is that Wisconsin, and America, are deeply divided.  Indeed, its Governor, Scott Walker was just caught on video this past January declaring to one of his billionaire patrons that the key to advancing his policy agenda was to “divide & conquer” labor.  The NRA and Tea Party takes their cue from the famous Green Bay Packer coach of lore, Vince Lombardy, who affirmed, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”  This played well on the green & gold sleet and ice of 1960’s era Green Bay football fields, but it’s no way to run government.  I loved Lombardi, and still do the Packers, but when you “destroy” an opponent on the football field, they lick their wounds, have a few beers, and return to play again no worse for the wear next week.  When you destroy communities, they often never recover.

My first reaction to the massacre was to eschew immediate political analysis.  Too late.  Before the thought of rejecting a political reaction could barely form, our recently victorious in recall election Governor, Scott Walker, and his fellow oarsman Ron Johnson who road into the Senate on the Koch Brothers funded 2010 Tea Party wave, both weighed in.  No time for reflection here, they both quickly made the usual pro forma statements calling for prayer, accompanied by the handwringing question of, “why?”  Yes, “why” indeed?

I am agnostic on guns. In principle, I neither enjoy nor despise them.  Unlike a certain past American Vice-President favored by the National Rifle Association (NRA) who fancies hunting in the Erich Honecker style of being medicated and inside a limousine with index finger at the ready on the power window button, I have never shot anyone in the face.  Indeed, I am one of the small minority of people who can consistently place bullets within a small pattern on a target.  I used to shoot with the old man as a kid, and did a bit of skeet shooting with an uncle as well.  I can take it or leave it, but have no objections to my citizen brethren enjoying the tradition of hunting in Wisconsin.  Indeed, I often enjoy the “fruits” of their recreation: venison.

Walker and Johnson are not responsible for this tragedy, but neither have they done anything to prevent such episodes.  Senator Johnson who recognizes the need to register automobiles and has worked tirelessly to tighten registration on voting, curiously insists, “I do not, nor will I ever, support licensing or registration of firearms.”  He has charged those seeking to regulate or ban semi-automatic assault weapons that can easily be converted to machineguns, as “leftists.”  Guilty as charged!  Moreover, he fights laws that would limit ammo magazines in excess of 100 rounds.  I mean how many shots do you need to take down a deer before grabbing for more ammo?  I know some people in the GOP are hopeless shots, but please….

Then there is the NRA’s other favorite son, Mr. Walker.  Walker, in our postmodern age, has carefully crafted a Frank Capra “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” image taking on special interests. Yet, he is the perennial favorite of rich and powerful special interests.  With a world-busting record number of people in jail and growing corruption, American politics, more than ever is governed by the 6th century B.C. Greek philosopher Aesop’s maxim that, “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.”  Well, their hirelings, anyway….

Indeed, the NRA recently declared Scott Walker to be “one of the strongest pro-gun Governors in the country.” He “has proven his dedication” to halting any regulation on firearms.  Further, the “NRA was fully vested in this race with a comprehensive campaign that included tens of millions of online ads and hundreds of thousands of television, radio and print ads… in this remarkable victory for freedom.”

In short, our NRA/Tea Party leaders in Wisconsin rule by divide & conquer and take their cues from and are funded by those opposing any reasonable regulation of guns.  The time for hand wringing and prayer is over.  We need to put the NRA in the crosshairs of public scrutiny and ask if their extremism is serving the public interest.  We should also squarely confront ourselves and the leaders who have divided and failed us. Wisconsin’s massacre, unfortunately, is no mystery.  Do such tragedies happen outside of America?  Yes.  With our frequency?  No. Unfortunately, in the current environment of Yosemite Sam gun deregulation, angry man American media, and growing economic insecurity, you can likely expect more.

Jeffrey Sommers lives in Wisconsin.

More articles by:

Jeffrey Sommers is Professor of Political Economy & Public and Senior Fellow, Institute of World Affairs of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is Visiting Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. His book on the Baltics (with Charles Woolfson), is The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail