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One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease

I say “disease” instead of “illness” because it’s a creepier word, conjuring up nauseating images: syphilis, tumors, necrotizing bone. Technicolor mutations in old medical textbooks.  Racism and fascism are of that ilk, gelatinous drops of poison that swirl around in a hellish test-tube with other noxious fluids until they bind together and bang: another spectacular chemical reaction. Spectacular and hideous but totally predictable.

Another school filled with twelve-year-old corpses, all dead at the hand of Nikolas Cruz, who said “I want to kill as many antifa as I can.” (His fellow neo-Nazis gave him extra points for picking a school with a large Jewish population.)  Or a church full of dead black grandmothers in Charleston, blown apart by Dylann Roof, who—remember this?–sat and listened to them pray for two hours and then slaughtered them.  Or an idyllic Norwegian island strewn with sixty-nine dead kids by Anders Breivik, yet another of these pale asexual snail-faced fascist monsters—their poster-boy, in fact.

It’s easy, all too easy, to dredge up more cases of this racist pathology in action, but I don’t have the heart for it right now.  I’m too gut-sick from watching Pig-Man Trump perform his Ed Wood-level “I care” act.  (Note to another racist scumbag, John Kelly: if your boy can’t fake it any better than that, don’t trot him out there.  Leave the brow-furrowed Compassion Routine to the pros, like George Bush.)

I’m too weary from watching well-meaning souls on TV who talk earnestly about gun control without admitting what we all know in some dank corner of our souls: the prime source of mass murder in this world, whether it’s in the tree-lined small towns of America or the hamlets of Viet Nam or the drone-blasted deserts of Yemen, is racism.  Racism armed with napalm, racism kitted out with bump-stocks and huge magazines, racism poisoning the waters of Flint—the pathogens float easily around the country and the globe, like windblown dandelion puffs.  It’s the only disease that is terminal for other people, not one’s-self.

In the course of a lifelong fascination with violent racists I have spent a fair amount of time among them.  Every single one of them was visibly diseased, and not only by the racism itself.  It’s obvious on first meeting that most racists were grievously abused by their parents: “hold you in his arms you can feel his disease,” as John Lennon said.  Nearly all are socially inept.  Many are cops—and I don’t say that to be cute or snarky; one of my closest friends is a New Orleans homicide cop—but it’s true.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time among hard-left activists, too, some of whom fantasized about acts of political violence, some of whom even acted cavalier about the possibility that innocent people would die.  But even the most case-hardened leftists never envisioned slaughtering innocent people on purpose, as an end in itself, much less slaughtering old women at prayer; and none of them would have chuckled merrily at the spectacle of dead eighth-graders.

This is a peculiarly fascist and racist disease, a suppurating tumor with the face of Ted Cruz (if that’s not redundant.)  Those floating pathogens are wriggling and teeming on websites all over America, and they are especially vivid and naked there, but they are also rotting the souls of DC politicians from within—even the well-spoken, well-dressed ones.  By all means, let us have gun control, so as to diminish the spread of the disease, or at least slow it down.  But unless the infected spirit of American racism is cauterized with a piece of burning iron it will be our terminal illness.

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John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He is a contributor to Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence. He can be reached at: johneskow@yahoo.com

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