Sadly, we live in an age where the militarization of American culture, and the worship of violence and reverence for the military in an economic global order that thrives on perpetual war, is at an all-time high. Even worse, we have now reached a point where these horrific spree killings have spread beyond the U.S. and into other Western nations, as well as nations in the East that have become increasingly influenced and indoctrinated into Western cultural values and consumerist behavior.
LOOKING BEYOND GUNS TO THE TYPE OF SYSTEM WE LIVE UNDER
Of course, part of the reason that the problem persists is because the American Left utterly refuses to put emotion aside and take a hard, logical look at the true sources of the problem. The perpetrators of these spree killings range from individuals sympathetic with terrorist organizations spawned by the imperialist policies of the West; gang members warring to achieve power, territory, and control over resources (read: the recreational drug industry) in a microcosm of what the governments of the current world order regularly engage in with each other; terribly bullied and ostracized young people rejected by a deeply conformist and hierarchical culture who are motivated by retribution and react in the only way they feel possible; disgruntled employees thrown out of work and cast into the extreme poverty that is a worldwide feature of the capitalist system and its private ownership of the essential services and its characteristic refusal to disperse any items or services unless one has the financial resources to purchase them, regardless of need; and a surfeit of mentally ill individuals who have gone over the edge due to all of the alienation, extreme economic insecurity, and abusive hierarchical social institutions that naturally mirror the economic hierarchical, top-down chain of command which all but a lucky few are forced to live under and exist in life-long servitude to.
In other words, different types of individuals whose mad actions are influenced by the same basic set of economic and social forces serving as a catalyst. This, as noted above, includes a glorification of the military (as long as they wear the “right” flag emblem on their uniforms) and the importance our culture places on using violence to solve issues both abroad and domestically, the latter courtesy of our heavily armed and increasingly militarized police whom the communities they monitor have no control over, and who thus have a strong penchant for profiling oppressed minorities as easy targets to meet their arrest quotas and personal need to vent their own mental issues upon.
Of course, whenever a spree killing occurs in America, the majority of the Left cannot be counted on to even consider taking a deep and uncomfortably honest analysis of the above aspects of the system. This is, in part, because the Left has become increasingly inured to the system and have become its sometimes reluctant supporters rather than opponents ever since Reagan, the Clintons, and Obama divested them of most of their idealism, optimism, and willingness to embrace fundamental change and move onto a better system. It’s also in part because the Left, much like their sometimes opponents/rivals/semi-collaborators on the Right, are prone to emotion on certain issues which detract from logical, common sense analysis of the system and the manifold problems it causes.
Instead, the simplistic reaction and explanation for any spree killing in America is always a knee-jerk, emotionally charged condemnation of guns. They will start spouting sometimes dubious statistics on how awful guns are, how many accidents they cause per year, and sometimes the claim that only a total “nutjob” would ever perceive the need to own a firearm, let being capable of using one responsibly and within reasonable circumstances in the impoverished streets common to a system whose inequality breeds crime, brutal competition, any number of neuroses, mass insecurity, and severe mistrust between members of the working class. And this in an environment where American police insist they must be more heavily armed than a typical infantryman in Afghanistan in order to safely conduct their job on the streets of a typical large city where the “dog eat dog” mindset of our vaunted capitalist system rules over virtually every aspect of our day-to-day lives.
Every gun owner is compared to the wacky members of the right-wing NRA by the Left, even as many of them simultaneously cheer any soldier taking orders from the U.S. government who lays waste to a Middle Eastern city street or drops a salvo of cluster bombs on innocent families to get maybe one or two suspected terrorists; and likewise applaud them as heroes even if their courage is genuine but terribly misdirected, or amounting to nothing more than a “soldier” operating a lethal drone from the safety of a cabin located literally thousands of miles away. Not all liberals and progressives are hypocritical in this fashion, of course, and many steadfastly denounce pre-emptive imperialist war and militarized domestic police as much as they do the right and competence of common citizens to bear arms. More than enough of them display this contradiction of values, however.
These liberal Democrats are so overwhelmed by emotion on this single subject, they will boldly initiate a 24-hour sit-in at the House of Representatives until the Republicans agree to enact anti-gun legislation, while lacking the will or the kahunas to do the same in regards to compelling House Republicans to pass legislation for universal health care, a federal $15 minimum wage, a guarantee of jobs for everyone under a system of public works, the diminishing of our bloated military spending and re-disbursement of funds for needed social programs, paid maternity and paternity leave, free universal college education and forgiveness of college debt for all current and former students, the creation of community committees to oversee the conduct of local police, etc, et al. One so-called progressive recently mentioned the Democratic sit-in over gun legislation to me and said, “if that’s not progressive for the Democrats, then I don’t know what is.” In my typically long-winded fashion, I not-so-simply pointed to all of the above progressive measures the Democrats have refused to stand up for in a similar fashion, and told him, “if they stood up for all of that with the same determination they did for gun control alone, then not only would this be a far more progressive nation, but the main source of all forms of violence, including these spree killings, would be greatly diminished.”
KEEP TRUCKS AND SHARP OBJECTS OUT OF THE HANDS OF COMMON CITIZENS!
As I write these words, yet another of these horrible spree killings has occurred in America, this one once again in Florida, where a popular teen club in Fort Myers was subject to a mass shooting which took the lives of two confirmed patrons and injured as many as 16 others, some of them being in critical condition as of yesterday morning. This particular shooting was believed to be gang-related, rather than terrorist-inspired like the recent Florida spree killing at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Of course, this latest tragedy in Fort Myers can be expected to cause the Left to typically blame availability of guns as the main or sole culprit, and ignore everything I discussed above. This is because their emotional attachment to the issue surrounding the production and sale of any item that is specifically designed to be used as a weapon by civilians causes them to fear and hate guns based on what they represent in their minds. This is why we will also hear nary a word on the far greater number of accidents per year involving automobiles, power tools, or swimming pools, and what can be done to reduce such tragedies, nor anything about the many items that can be used as weapons as readily as any gun (e.g., sledgehammers, sharp screwdrivers, weighted flashlights, hardwood walking sticks, baseball bats, steak knives, box cutters, or vicious dogs), because each of these things have utility purposes and are not explicitly designed for use as weapons even though they can, and often do, serve as very deadly makeshift weapons. But because of their primary purpose, they fail to elicit the same degree of emotional response as do guns. As a result, their proven serious threat potential is either seriously down-played in comparison to guns, or completely overlooked.
Two further spree killing tragedies, however, recently took place in nations where guns are far more difficult to come by than in America. These horrible incidents throw a major monkey wrench into the simplistic and emotion-based argument of the American Left that availability of guns to civilians is the main cause of this incessant violence, as if simply looking at a gun is enough to provoke murderous tendencies in people who would otherwise have no inclination — or at least no capability — of launching a murder spree.
The first such incident occurred in Nice, France earlier in July of 2016, courtesy of 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who was responsible for 84 confirmed deaths, a far greater number than the Orlando and Fort Myers spree killings. This tragedy was also said to be terrorist-inspired. But there’s a major twist in this particular act of horror which throws some major aspersions on the pet focus of the Left that strict gun control is the primary solution to this problem: Bouhlel didn’t use a gun to conduct this obscene death toll. He used a perfectly legal and not-too-difficult-to-acquire 2o-ton truck.
Yes, think about that for a minute, fellow progressives, and let it percolate in your mind for a bit, hopefully giving pause to unbridled emotional hatred and fear of guns and acting as a catalyst for some much-needed rational thought and analysis. This incident garnered but a minimum of coverage in the American press, and I suspect it was because the liberals had no emotional basis for which4 to latch onto this story. Were they supposed to demand a ban on trucks? No, not because it was unreasonable to do so, but because as deadly a weapon as this incident proves certain vehicles can make — much more so than even a high-powered assault rifle — trucks are not designed for the specific purpose of being used as weapons.
As a result, this incident lacked any serious emotional impact on the matter of the worsening culture of violence and spree killings that is now plaguing the entire world, because it didn’t involve the symbolic spectre of guns for the liberals to build the necessary emotion to rally around. This, despite the truly horrific number of deaths caused by this particular murder binge despite not involving a firearm of any kind.
This weapon of death must be banned, lest further spree killings occur!
And of course, the liberals didn’t bother to find this incident as any reason to conduct a thorough analysis on the economic and social aspects of the current global order which creates a culture of violence. Is that perhaps because doing so would offer clear evidence that a simple near-obsessive focus on banning guns or attacking all gun owners as irresponsible, violence-promoting spree killings waiting to happen is not the ultimate solution to this problem? Is it because doing so would make it clear that a much more incisive and nuanced analysis into the very system we live under, and which so many modern day Democrats misguidedly if sometimes reluctantly dedicate themselves to preserving, would be in order? Would it maybe undermine the anti-gun mania of the Left by offering proof that guns are not necessary for even the spree killings with the highest death tolls, and that you have to look to the system itself because you can’t ban or disparage absolutely every item which can be used as a deadly weapon no matter the reason it was actually designed?
Take a guess which image the typical American Liberal considers the main source of all violence in the world today… the one in the funny burglar’s right hand, or the one in his left?
A LESSON TO LEARN FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PACIFIC
Now let’s take a look at the second, even more recent spree killing which occurred in July of 2016, this one all the way in the Eastern domain of Japan.
Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year-old unemployed man of Sagamihara, a city located 30 miles west of Tokyo, went on a terrifying and tragic killing spree at a care centre for disabled people, where he was previously employed. He slaughtered 19 people and injured another 25 — 20 of them seriously — before regaining some semblance of calm and quietly walking into a police station to turn himself in. Uematsu’s killing spree, and the number of seriously injured in addition to the murders, is right up there in number with the two Florida killing sprees which likewise occurred in July of ’16. This incident was neither terrorist nor gang-related, but most likely the result of a disgruntled ex-employee who went off the deep end due to his insecure financial circumstances and suddenly connected disabled people (as opposed to gays, blacks, etc.) to the source of his problems (as opposed to the global system which he lived and was forced to work within). But here is the major twist that puts a further damper on the “blame the availability of guns” mantra so often spouted by the American Left when something like this occurs: Uematsu, who lives in a country where guns are much more difficult to come by than in America, utilized a single knife to conduct this slaughter.
Yes, you read that right. Due to growing up in a quiet area of Japan (until now, that is), Uematsu likely never even saw a gun outside of television and video games, yet the lack of a firearm in his possession, and the general lack of accessibility to guns in his country, didn’t stop him from improvising and using a readily available and very deadly weapon to carry out the worst mass murder to occur in Japan for many generations. Is it any coincidence that it happened around the same time as the spree killings occurring not only in the U.S., but also the one that ensued just a week earlier in France? And like the similarly horrific killing spree in France, is it any coincidence that this happened without a firearm being involved?
Let’s also note this incident while I’m on the subject: in 2001, after killing sprees first became a tragically recurring phenomenon in the present era of the neo-liberal militarization of world culture and the economy as a whole after the 1999 Columbine massacre, a mentally unbalanced 37-year-old man named Mamoru Takuma, described as a drifter and a sufferer of schizophrenia, entered an elementary school in Ikeda, Japan, located ten miles north of Osaka, and launched a brutal spree massacre on the students and teachers within, murdering eight children and injuring 15 other kids and school staff. And he did this all of this not with a firearm, but with a kitchen knife — yes, not simply a knife, but one that was readily available and not designed for combat or use as a self-defense weapon, but as a typical utility item.
Of course, this incident garnered a similar lack of focus or deep analysis by the American Left, because it didn’t involve a gun, and thus lacked any emotional or political resonance, and thus no incentive to put aside the anti-gun mentality and take a hard look at the type of world order we’re now living in, and what it does to so many members of the working class. And it provided further uncomfortable evidence that the availability of guns is not the prime cause of the problem, and that even completely banning guns and criminalizing all gun ownership wouldn’t bring an end to the problem.
“Just looking at this thing makes me want to run out and stab a whole retirement home full of senior citizens! What possessed me to think I was responsible enough to have one of these things in my kitchen?”
PUTTING THE SYSTEM AND THE CULTURE IT BREEDS INTO THE PROVERBIAL CROSS-HAIRS
American liberals can boast all they want that mass killings do not occur with the same regularity in countries where availability of guns is far more restricted, as that situation seems to be rapidly and tragically changing. It may simply mean that spree killings with firearms are more rare in these other countries, as individuals in largely gun-free nations are quickly beginning to make due with the multitude of readily available items (e.g., vehicles, common kitchen knives) that can easily be turned into a deadly weapon in the hands of a madman, and inflict a comparable degree of damage (if not worse) than even an assault rifle equipped with a mega-clip magazine. And this is beginning to strongly indicate that not only are the availability of guns far from the main source of the problem, but if strict gun control legislation is finally passed in the U.S., those members of what Marx labeled the lumpenproletariat who are driven over the edge by the forces endemic to this dog-eat-dog, military-worshiping system will easily find ways of making do with various utility-items-cum-potential-deadly-weapons, much as their foreign counterparts are beginning to do, and have in fact been doing for over two decades and even longer.
Maybe the American Left can take some inspiration from how some individuals quoted in the Japanese media reacted to the above 2001 incident and a series of similar, previous spree killings during the 1990s (one of them involving not firearms, but sarin gas released in a Tokyo subway by a “death cult” which left 12 people dead), as noted by journalist Calvin Sims in the above linked article he penned: “In recent years, Japan has experienced a growing number of violent attacks, including bus hijackings, child abuse, murders of parents and juvenile assaults, that have caused many Japanese to worry that their country is in a state of social decline. Japan is also undergoing wrenching social change widely attributed to the country’s long-term economic downturn and shifting values.”
Further, Sims quoted Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as saying, ”We have to ask for the opinions of experts on what we should do about the collapse of a safe society.”
Hmmm, considering that perhaps the blame may be the problems caused by the unstable economic system we live under and the type of “shifting” (euphemism for “increasingly corrupt”) values it encourages, rather than on the easy accessibility of kitchen knives, heavy trucks, and sarin gas, let alone the mostly non-existent firearms to be found in the Land of the Rising Sun? That is quite novel by the standards of the American Left, their media, and their political parties, and I’m hoping there is a valuable lesson for them to take from the less emotional and more logically reasoned statements from Sims and Koizumi.
Regarding certain isolated incidents of senseless murders occurring in Japan during the 1990s, Sims recorded this:
“Last year, a 17-year-old boy, angry after a fight with his father, bludgeoned a passer-by at a Tokyo shopping district. Another teenager beat his mother to death with a metal bat, and a third stabbed an elderly neighbor to death because he said he wanted to experience killing someone.
“Attacks in schools and subways have also been increasing. In 1999, a young man stabbed a 7-year-old boy in Kyoto to death in front of his classmates in a school playground.”
In deference to the concerns of a colleague of mine who actually lives in Japan, he disagreed with an earlier draft of this blog, saying there are specific aspects of Japanese culture which explain these murders, including the spree killings in 1995, 2001, and 2016, and which cannot put the blame on Western cultural and political tampering. He believes that my connecting these incidents to the Western spree killings is comparable to a conspiracy theory. I will note his concerns and mention the following in response, out of fairness to both his opinion and my intentions here:
1. No doubt Japan has a culture quite distinct from anything in the West, as well as specific political events, which combined to influence people there, including the spree killers being discussed on this blog. But I believe and maintain my stance that the above evidence strongly suggests a connection between these similar acts of violence, many of which happened literally within days of each other in different parts of the world. Despite the differences in culture and political history between the West and an Eastern nation like Japan, the fact remains that they share an economic system based on private ownership of the industries and production for profit, and are all heavily involved in a global interconnected market system. The effects on the common people by these capitalist policies — unemployment, inequality due to strict class divisions, fierce competition between workers for jobs, dehumanizing work conditions, financial insecurity and instability, a heavy militarization of their respective societies to operate within a global system based on perpetual war — result in all types of anxieties and neuroses among the labor class citizens, so I do not believe this is all a coincidence.
2. I think the evidence clearly shows that you cannot blame the availability of guns alone for the problems of spree killings, nor isolated incidents of brutal violence, because guns are not required to do such killings. Banning guns would not solve the problem; it would simply result in spree killers and other murderers using implements not designed to be used as weapons which nevertheless provide lethal substitutes for guns which can provide the same number of victims.
So what will the reaction of the American Left be to the state of affairs represented by these recent killing sprees in France and Japan? Will they once again give into emotion, and this time insist that the solution is a simple banning of trucks over a certain size and weight, or kitchen knives of a certain length, or power tools that operate for a particularly long time under a single charge, or at least strict background checks on anyone who wishes to purchase these items for their kitchen or garage? Or will they perhaps take a cue from the people of Japan circa the 1990s to the present and conduct a strong, honest, and distressingly objective analysis of the system we live under, the the type of culture it creates seemingly everywhere, and what it does to a growing number of 99 percenters the world over? I’m hoping the evidence I present here, and which others have presented elsewhere, will spur my fellow progressives into putting aside the emotion to consider taking the latter route.
The average gun owner in the eyes of the American Left. He just can’t wait to shoot somebody, even if it’s his own image in a mirror! (He recently shot the last mirror in his house to pieces, so he now has a picture of his mom in the cross-hairs.)