FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ironies of the National Security State

A couple of days ago, a man walked into an important Naval Base in Washington DC carrying a high power military weapon and started shooting.   He killed 12 people and injured 8 more before being killed himself.    Live by the sword; die by the sword.   It would appear to be a viable lifestyle choice in our ‘free’ society.    On investigation, it turned out the shooter was ex-military; eased out with an honorable discharge due to a manifest inability to live within the constraints of the military command; but somehow still working for the military in a a civilian capacity.  A social misfit whose status did not reflect his behavior, he shifted to working as a military contractor.

The gunman had a history of psychiatric problems, and on inquiry it was found that he had  recently been telling people that he was hearing voices and expressing  what appear to be paranoid delusions.  Apparently he didn’t express these concerns to anyone with the will and the authority to restrain his actions or even to provide compassionate assistance.   Or, perhaps those who were aware of his instability just didn’t see the real life potential of his delusions and didn’t care about his personal welfare.    In any case, if no red flags were raised in this case, one might wonder on what basis red flags are deployed.

The debate triggered by this event seems to be centered around gun control, and the process to acquire a weapon. However, there is no process to track the person once they have that weapon.   Mental illness and other personal issues do not influence one’s status with regard to possession of firearms once you have the license.

By contrast, anyone convicted, or in many cases even accused of committing a sexual crime has their name put on public list which is not only checked by formal authorities and decision makers the person later encounters, but also available for perusal by the neighborhood watch vigilantes and  any other person who might be attempting to reinforce his or her own personal security.   But there is no way to know if your neighbor or coworker has a military weapon and is under psychiatric care for an illness with the potential to incite a person to violence.

The issue of this particular shooter having a security clearance go enter the base at all has not received as much scrutiny.  This is understandable given that there have been frequent shooting massacres in this country over the last decade, in schools, places of work and worship.  The phrase “Going Postal” was coined in the 80s after a disgruntled employee  recently laid off from the amazingly efficient but ever more beleaguered Post Office.   So this is neither new nor a phenomenon necessarily related to the military.   An armed man expressing himself in a public explosion of deadly violence has become a cliche.

Even so, a man with a history of mental illness, apparently a paranoid psychosis, had a security clearance to walk into an important military center with high power weapon.  By contrast, I and about 50 other people have been issued Restraining Orders that prohibit us from standing outside the gate of Hancock Air National Guard Base outside of Syracuse, New York.    We were issued these Orders at the request of the Base Commanders who requested Orders o Protection from us after we, nonviolent protesters, stood outside the fence around the base, armed only with banners and posters asserting our concerns with, and our disapproval of U.S. policy regarding the use of the Reaper Drones flown from the base as weapons of war.

Catholic Worker and anti-violence activist Brian Terrell, who has no history of any kind of mental illness or violent behavior, was sentenced last year to 6 months in a Federal Prison for going to the gate at Whiting Airforce Base and presenting a letter of condemnation of the U.S. military use of Reaper and Predator Drones for targeted assassinations.   He and his companions requested permission to deliver the letter to the Base Commander, but instead were arrested and tried on Misdemeanor charges for exercising their right of free speech at the gate of a military base.

We live in a society where the expression of free speech, however well reasoned and morally profound is criminalized while the open expression of violence, even by a person who is clearly not capable of reason or any form of social ethic, is a necessary and unchallengeable freedom.     Personal behaviors, in many cases private behaviors are under continual social scrutiny and subject to endless debate, while the capacity to deal death at the press of a trigger is an immutable right.  Heavily armed military installations fear the word, but not the sword.

Our government extends lines of social credit to warriors, even those who are clearly losing their ability to function in society while those who come forward to express the ethical and reasoned concerns of the community are deemed a visceral danger to a well armed encampment.

So, yes, ‘Live by the Sword and you will die by the sword.’  appears to be the law of the land. Can we call this civilization?

Judy Bello writes The Deconstructed Globe blog.    You can reach me at jb.papillonweb@gmail.com

More articles by:

Judith Bello is a long time peace and justice activist who blogs at The Deconstructed Globe.     She is a charter member of  The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, which is a statewide organization that is in a confrontation with Hancock Air National Guard Base to end their piloting of Reaper drones over Afghanistan and the use of  weaponized drones for targeted killing around the world.   She administers the website for the Upstate Coalition, along with the websites for several other peace and justice organizations.  Offline, she lives in a suburb of Rochester, NY.

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail