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Death in a Dead Land

Photo by Andy Blackledge | CC BY 2.0

For a while my editors considered me the go-to guy for tragic death. A little girl gets killed when Gabby Giffords is shot? I’m on it, with “A Moment of Silence.” Bombs explode at the Boston Marathon? I’m there, with “The 27th Mile.” America shrugs at the death of young children in Newtown? I’m on TV saying, “I’m not anti-gun, I’m pro-kindergartner.”

Well, I’m going to be a little less elegant in my phrasing this time around: We don’t give a shit. Americans don’t care about gun death, not really. It’s obvious. Right-wingers want to cling to their gun fantasies because it makes them feel empowered in a world where they’re economically powerless and emotionally impotent. Liberals are better on the issue, but too many of them keep promoting politicians with pro-corporate agendas that weaken their appeal and doom their chances at getting elected.

It turns out you can’t control guns and serve Mammon at the same time.

That “Second Amendment” guy I debated on TV thought he won. I thought he was crazy at the time, but he was obviously right. He’s the winner. It’s his world now, not yours or mine.

Trump’s flying to Las Vegas, but he keeps spewing insults at Puerto Rico. He cares about the color of the victim and the color of the shooter. The color of the blood that’s shed? Not so much.

Las Vegas is a living monument to our love of money, a necropolis of dead whiskey bottles and losing hands. You’ve probably heard that they deliberately design the casino floors so you can’t find the exit. It’s true, but don’t worry. Nobody’s looking for a way out.

Once they decided this shooter wasn’t a Muslim they had permission to paint him as a loner, a desert dweller, a gambler, Kenny Rogers with a sniperscope. Gamblers? Hell, son, we’re all gamblers around here. Some of us just run out of luck earlier than others.

Bernie called on Congress to take action, but we all know they won’t. Hillary came on strong against the NRA and the gun silencer bill, but in ’08 she pushed gun culture fantasies and dropped her “g’s” with the best of ’em, in stilted mimicry of what she imagined was good ol’ boy style.

You can’t fight the gun culture after you’ve fueled its mythos.

Want to know what real political courage would look like? You’ll know you’ve seen it when politicians call out their own contributors for making money from gun company investments. You’ll know you’ve seen it when a politician points out that Tamir Rice’s life was as valuable as any other gun victim’s.  You’ll know you’ve seen it when a politically-motivated killer is always called a terrorist, regardless of religion or skin color.

You’ll know you’ve seen it when we call a lawless killing by its true name, whether death came from a Bushmaster rifle or a Lockheed-Martin drone.

But don’t expect any more words of comfort from the likes of me. I’m not a clergyman, and we’ve turned into a nation of death-worshippers anyway. We’re all weaklings, or hypocrites, or fools. Ye shall know them by their fruits …

We still haven’t stopped this endless river of blood, and it looks like we never will – at least, not until the oil stops flowing and the coal stops burning and we all drown in the waters of a flood that turns the Las Vegas desert green, a flood we knew was coming but did nothing to prevent.

Maybe the dead land will bloom again when we’re gone.

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Richard (RJ) Eskow is the host of the Zero Hour and a former adviser to the campaign of Bernie Sanders. He is a senior fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future. @rjeskow.

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