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.

August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail