From the “Beacon to the World of the Way Life Should Be”: Some Online Reflections on Mass-Shootings #249 and 250

What follows is a series of “social media” statements and exchanges (from Saturday, August 3 through the morning of Tuesday, August 6) regarding the assault-weapon mass-shootings in El Paso and Dayton.   

“The Correct Word: POGROM”

Saturday, August 3, 2019, after news breaks of the mass-shooting in El Paso, Texas

Street, 1:21 pm: Rosa Luxembourg said it many years ago: it’s socialism or barbarism. The barbarism has been well underway ever since, as before. One of the many forms it takes in the United States today is the now essentially routine and normalized phenomenon of mass shootings.

4:22 pm: Nothing will happen. The neofascist National Rifle Association (NRA) will block any substantive action against the widespread availability and ownership of military-style weapons of mass annihilation in American “civil society.”  Liberals and Dems will say that gun availability and control matters, Republicans will say it’s a mental health issue, as usual. And so it goes until the next mass shooting, which could be in a few days, a week.

Eric Draitser: [The shooter] directly targeted and called for genocide against Latinx people. We need to use the correct word – POGROM. Like the Tree of Life synagogue massacre, this is yet another Trump-inspired pogrom.

Street: I’ve been expecting to hear that. Another Amerikaner pogrom.

“The Next Shooter is Cleaning and Oiling…”

Steve De La Rosa: The next shooter is cleaning and oiling as we read this.

Street: Absolutely. And he’s watching the cable coverage, drawing great inspiration from it. I wonder how long it’s going to take for the talking heads to acknowledge that the shooting was racially motivated and Trump-inspired.

Saturday, 5:05 pm, Street:MSDNC is just now starting to hint that the shooter is a white supremacist.  It’s being very cautious about that specific detail but soon it should be the story. At the network level, it’s still unverified but that’s what it will be.  Still not “officially confirmed.” They are reviewing the shooter’s “manifesto.”

Huitzilopochtli Maestas: It’s Domestic Terrorism. Which has been in The Western Hemisphere since 1492.

Street, 9:23 pm:The USA, self-proclaimed vanguard of human superiority, has had 249 mass shootings in 215 days this year.  In a fall 2002 US Senate speech supporting the authorization of George W. Bush to mass-murderously invade Iraq if he wanted to (he did because Gold told him to), then Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) called the U.S. “the beacon to the world of the world of the way life should be.” This sick society has literally nothing, nada, to tell any other people or nation about how to live.

“The Delusion or Pretense That This Isn’t Who We Are”

The morning after the mass-shooting in Dayton, where a white male with automatic weaponry killed 9 people, 6 of whom were Black.

Sunday, August 4, 2019, 9: 53 am, Street: Dayton was predicted here (see above). We just didn’t know where exactly the next mass-shooting would take place or that it would be a matter of just hours before the next heavily armed mad-dog white male killer struck.

Terry Thomas: The disease has ravaged the patient’s body and he’s now on life-support, probably terminal, and the plug may be pulled at any moment. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Street: The patient being the USA’s pretense of civilization and decency?

Thomas: Indeed. And I should say also the delusion or pretense that this isn’t who we are is just fantasy or, worse, bad faith.If I hear from some talking head that this isn’t who we are one more time, my television may be in jeopardy. Until we realize this is truly who we are we can’t even begin the repairs. And I’m not sure repairs can be done, as I said the disease may be terminal. The idea that somehow this is abnormal ignores or willfully dismisses…the sickness [that] is synonymous with the nation’s history. If that is not confronted, it all just keeps happening, and things just fall apart.”

Street: I’ve been reading Greg Grandin’s book  The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to Border Wall in the Mind of America (2019) and it strikes me (no great or original insight) that this nation has been lethally racist and violent from day one and before.  You might appreciate this in Grandin:

“The 2016 election of Donald Trump as president of the United States – and all the vitriol his campaign and presidency have unleashed – has been presented by commentators as one of two opposing possibilities. Trumpism either represents a rupture, a wholly un-American movement that has captured the institutions of government; or he is the realization of a deep-rooted American form of extremism. Does Trump’s crass and cruel appeal to nativism represent a break from tradition, from a fitful but persistent commitment to tolerance and equality…? Or is it but the ‘dark side,’ to use Dick Cheney’s resonant phrase, of U.S. history coming into the light?”

Grandin sees the “dark side” coming to the fore in terrifying new ways under Obama and Trump because limits on American capitalist and imperial expansion have brought an end to the nation’s ability to displace its internal class and racial disparities on to the “frontier,” broadly understood.

Cleaning Up the Blood, Bringing Back Rapid-Fire Commercials

Street, Sunday, 6:48 pm: The vapid and soulless commercials are back to their normal rapid-fire schedule on the cable news stations. The white-nationalist crime-boss who inspires racist violence is enjoying golf at his New Jersey resort. Congress is on a 6-week vacation. The police state is being applauded for rapid “first response.” There have been 250 mass shootings in the United States — the self-declared “beacon” of human excellence — in the first 216 days of the year. The blood that flowed out of the disproportionately brown-skinned bodies of 29 people murdered just 13 hours apart by embittered young white-male killers equipped with military-style assault weapons has been cleaned from the floors and sidewalks and streets by workers in Haz-Mat suits in El Paso and Dayton. Some beacon!The pitiful poisoned beast, the wretched “armed madhouse” (Greg Palast’s phrase) that is the United States of America gets ready to send its children back to school, where teachers are ill-equipped to cultivate the critical thinking skills to see through the insanity of the very sick nation they inhabit.

A Dark Synergy and a “Macabre Joke”

Street, Sunday, 8:49 pm: Notice the dark synergy between the heavily NRA-armed lone-wolf racist shooters and the ever more militarized and high-tech police state. While we focus on the presidentially encouraged white-nationalist rage of the El Paso shooter, the vastly more powerful American police state is like a pig in shit. The iron fist/right hand of the state gets more tools, techniques, and resources for “homeland” repression. It gets more legitimacy and honor. It gets to pose as the enemy of white supremacism when it is no such thing. The FBI loves it and so do the various other surveillance and repression outfits, from local police on up.

Kenneth Miyazaki: Yeah, the macabre joke is that the FBI has a long history of using extremely racist tactics to incite ethnic groups against one another in order to sabotage attempts to mobilize a pan-racial class struggle. And now they act like they are the last line of defense against a race war. The FBI should be commended for its ability to flip reality on its head.

Street: Trump helps trigger white-nationalist jihadists/pogromists with hateful rhetoric. The NRA makes sure the killers can buy assault weapons at the local “sporting [and mass annihilation] goods” chain. The militarized police state gets to heroically first-respond and get more money and love. Rinse, repeat.

Trump Finally Speaks on the Killings, One of Which He Clearly Inspired

After Trump’s politically calculated speech on the weekend’s carnage.

Street, Monday, August 5,11:26 am: I didn’t watch Trump’s speech on the shootings. Was there anything there worth knowing about?

Anthony DiMaggio: He’s an Orwellian gaslighter of the doublethink variety. He condemns bigotry then [in his early morning tweets, not in in his speech – P.S.] ties gun reform to immigration reform, in response to a mass shooting/terror incident. The lesson is that terrorism works! And Trump gets to have it both ways like a good authoritarian doublethink propagandist. He can admonish the media for being critical of him, while rewarding a terrorist by giving him what he wanted. This is pure psychological warfare, mixed with a shrewd outsourcing of terrorism to the reactionary base. Don’t underestimate this president.

Street: And he managed to blame the media for the carnage, deflecting from his own white-nationalist incitement. Helluva slick spin. Chomsky has been saying this guy is quite good at this stuff. I think Noam is right.

Cindy Bertram Holub: He’s right in a way — the media is to blame for reporting on everything he says and does.

Street: But what “gun reform”? Background checks reform at most, right?

DiMaggio:  Yeah, he dangled background checks out there in exchange for” immigration reform,” IN RESPONSE TO the El Paso shooting. Let that one sink in.

“What the Fuck? Connect the Dots”

Street, Monday 12: 20 pm: You won’t see me throwing a lot of love at Beto O’Rourke but this was pretty good:

Reporter: Is there anything in your mind that the President can do now to make this any better?

O’Rourke: What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the fuck? Hold on a second. You know, I — it’s these questions that you know the answers to, I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism, he’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence; he’s inciting racism and violence in this country. So, you know, I just — I don’t know what kind of question that is.

Street: This reminded me of when I was the research director of the Chicago Urban League. I’d release some report showing beyond any shadow of doubt that racist policies and practices were creating savage racial disparities within and beyond Chicago and some clueless reporter would ask me, “so does this have anything to do with race?” …or even challenge the clear findings of racial disparity and racism.

Beto had freaking Walter Issacson, of all people, asking him why people aren’t “out in the streets” en masse on MSDNC this morning.

Serious as a Heart Attack

Street, 2:50 pm:  So it sounds like Trump in his speech this morning went strong with the old stand-by mental health along with “evil,” “the Internet” and video games as his main speech angles. The only “gun reform” he dangled (and tried to link to nativist “immigration reform”) was some measure of background checking. He could/would not say “white nationalism,” of course. And, of course, he took no personal responsibility for the carnage he helps to instigate with his hateful words. There was no real ruffling of the feathers of his right-wing base or the all-powerful NRA. And he will walk back from even this rhetoric in rallies and tweets to come. (There is teleprompter Trump and there is Twitter and Rally Trump and they are not the same.)

William Bibb: His base wants racist red meat thrown at them. Trump has no other material for the stand-up buffoonery shit show.

Street: I’d be careful about seeing it as buffoonery and stand-up. Please read Sinclair Lewis’s dystopian novel It Can’t Happen Here (1935) and pay attention to how the listless Americans depicted there couldn’t take the fascist Buzz Windrip seriously enough because they saw him as a comedic “buffoon.” In 2016, Trump walked right into that space predicted by Lewis: a white nationalist who is serious as a heart attack getting cover as a clown.

Street, Monday, 3:02 pm: Any kind of decent and democratic society with one fifth the repressive capacity of the U.S. today would rapidly implement the complete social and physical liquidation of the Alt-Right and the white-supremacist/nationalist infrastructure. Along the way it would shutter the NRA (a neofascist organization for all intents and purposes) and incarcerate its leadership for life.  The NRA’s homeland body count is in the hundreds of thousands.

Surprised? Why?

Street, ctd.: Anyone surprised by the white-nationalist awfulness of Orange Pig wasn’t paying attention. Since it came down the escalator and before, Orange Pig is everything it oinked it would be. when it worked its trotters down that escalator with its vixen sow in tow for show. Here’s a choice passage from the Trump Tower speech in which he announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2015:

‘Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us.

When did we beat Japan at anything? They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn’t exist, folks. They beat us all the time.

When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems…When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting.’

“Hate has no place” in America, Trump said in his teleprompter speech this morning.  Well, sorry but racist hate is firmly embedded in the twisted brain and Twitter feed of the tangerine-tinted monstrosity who sits in the White House.

The Arsonist Returns

Street, Monday, 5:34 pm: Neofascist-in-Chief says it’s going to El Paso on Wednesday. Not good. Does it want to gloat over the chilling Nativist pogrom it helped inspire?

Naima Wandile: Is he gonna stop in “Toledo,” the site of the other massacre (according to him?)

Street: Motherfucker said “Toledo”? For real?

William Bibb: Like the pyromaniac arsonist who returns to the scene of the crime, Trump sticks his meathead into the carnage to witness the suffering he caused or encouraged. He is a sadist.

What Would it Take?

Street, Monday, 6:35 pm:  Are US Americans just hopelessly paralyzed by the savagely time-staggered Election Cycle, childish candidate obsessions, and infantilizing mass culture? I mean what in the name of God would it take to put millions in the streets outside the election cycle (the pussy-hat mass marches were an election cycle phenomenon BTW and definitely not part of a social movement). Call it white-nationalist, call it fascist, call it neo-fascist, call it racist, call it sexist, call it nativist, call it (last but not least) Ecocidal,…call it any and all of the above (which I think would be quite fair, the goddamned Trump-Pence-McConnell-Pelosi-Schumer regime must go and it must go now, not on some distant day seventeenth months from now, when it will only be reconfigured in strict accord with the interests of the nation’s un-elected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire. Unless and until people take to the streets en masse, this deepening madness will only get worse and more lethal, with truly disastrous consequences. Want to see to how to fight sociopathic arch-authoritarians like the ones running this country? Look at Hong Kong. Look at Puerto Rico. Look at the Gilets Jaunes. For starters. What the Hell will it take?

Marco Daniel Summaria: My partner and I ask ourselves that very question at least two or three times a day — what will it take? and so far the answer seems to be literally unimaginable.

Street: Yeah it’s a helluva question: “Fellow Americans, what line(s), if any, can the powers that be cross that would finally activate you to join with others in fighting for the common good?”

John A. Murphy: Too many people on the left are afraid of confrontation – which is to be expected in a neo-fascist police state. Others will tell you they are philosophically opposed to violence primarily because they misunderstood both Gandhi and King.  There is nothing sacrosanct either about nonviolence or violence. They are simply tactics used to achieve a strategic political goal. As Frederick Douglass reminds us: “It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

Stuart Shadwell: We are in a feedback loop. Trump is used to justify terrible neo-liberal dems, and terrible neo-liberal dems lead to Trump. I get attacked by liberal guilt mongers all the time for just criticizing the dems. So many people are in constant retreat.

John Tinker:The global general climate strike is scheduled for September 20 – 27:

 Dementia Victims Offer Condolences to “Toledo,” “Houston,” and “Michigan”

Street, Tuesday, August 6, 2019, 9 AM, after putting up a news item showing that Joe Biden offered condolences to the families of shooting victims in “Houston” and “Michigan”: Oh my God …they are setting up an election between two dementia victims. “Toledo” (Trump), “Houston” (Biden” and “Michigan” (Biden).  This is pathetic.

John Crisman: It could be grimly humorous to watch these two idiots on the same stage. We could start a betting pool to place wagers on how many times each of them forget what they were talking about in mid sentence.

Street: The over-under on that for the first debate would be four. CNN has been running a post -shooting Anderson Cooper interview with Biden where the former VP is just a babbling old coot who belongs under the care of home health care worker. This by the way is not simply about age per se. Sanders is, what 77, but still sharp. People age differently.

Spiritual Death of a Stillborn Nation?

Street, Tuesday, 9:34 am: Dayton and El Paso and guns and white nationalism should be off the top of the news cycle, replaced by something else, by the end of the week. Congress remains in recess. Majority public opinion against the total insanity of military-style weaponry being available to racist and other psychopaths continues to be irrelevant to actual NRA-mandated “public” policy in “our great democracy.”  Democracy died long ago in this soulless and depraved nation.

The spiritual death that Dr. King warned about on April 4, 1967, one year to the day before his execution, has come to the United States. Though maybe it was already an old fact in 1967, long after the racist stillbirth of the nation, which came into the nursery of nations screaming about “merciless Indian savages” even as it continued to mercilessly and savagely slaughter North America’s original inhabitants in genocidal fashion, thanking God for helping them eliminate the continent’s first nations.

The El Paso shooter’s “manifesto” followed the Neofascist-in-Chief in denouncing the immigrant “invasion” and “infestation” of the U.S. The U.S. was founded as a white immigrant invasion/infestation, a genocidal and slaver invasion/infestation. Have any of the talking heads on CNN and MSDNC, much less FOX, dared to mention that Texas was stolen from Mexico in a white invasion led by slavers looking for more breathing room to oxygenate their sadistic and racist chattel system of forced labor?

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).