One clear indication that we are sliding toward of a new dark age is the devaluation of human life. Dylann Roof was raised in a culture where he learned that life is cheap; a culture that taught him that some lives matter more than others. Only by pretending not to see can we ignore how gun proliferation contributes to an ever-increasing body count and an attitude that the lives of darker bodies are expendable. The Charleston massacre perpetrated by Roof is but one minor example of our nation’s bloodlust. That particular tragedy, as horrific as it was, recedes from the conversation to make room for newer bloodlettings that barely capture our attention.
But are we even keeping count? We may be familiar with the four marines and a solider killed in Chattanooga, or the two people shot in a Louisiana theater. But how many of us know of the five injured in a Columbus shooting, the four shot at a Dallas grocery store, the five shot in a Stockton, CA drive-by, the seven shot at a Louisville nightclub, the two dead and 2 wounded in Baton Rouge, the seven in a Cleveland drive-by, the four shot in Suffolk, VA, another four in Cincinnati, and six wounded in Fort Wayne, IN –all of which transpired over a ten day period last week? In fact, on July 23rd, the 204th day of the year, this country has witness 204 mass shooting. Not shootings – but mass shootings. That’s one a day! And yet, it barely makes the news because mass shooting have become part of the everyday.
For every one U.S. solider killed in Afghanistan during the 11-year war, 13 children were killed in the U.S. for a total of 28,000 during the same time period. From the start 2015 until today, the total number of people killed by guns is 7,395; the total injured was 14,872. No other industrial nation comes close to matching U.S. violence. Yes, we are #1 in guns. In 2013, the U.S. boosted 88.8 guns for every 100 people and 10.2 deaths per 100,000 people. The next most violent country was Switzerland with 45.7 guns per 100 people and 3.84 deaths per 100,000 people. When compared with the rest of the world, it becomes obvious there is something fundamentally wrong with our psyche.
This doesn’t even take into consideration the black lives coming to an end at the hands of the police for minor traffic violations, or indigenous lives that almost has as many deaths as African Americans at the hands of the police but are totally ignored in the conversation, or the lives of the undocumented who find death in the desert as a direct result of U.S. immigration laws based on the Jim Crow policy of deterrence, or die while in the custody of Border Patrol agents. We are a nation that has made the destruction of bodies of color normative, a praxis legitimized since the first European landed on these shores and killed an Indian who was protecting his or her land from thieves. And even though life has always been perilous for those with dark skin, because we have historically devalued the lives of ‘darker’ bodies, we have learned to devalue all lives, regardless of hue.
The answer to this dilemma for some is more guns. But the premise that more guns results in a peaceful community is as logical as more sex resulting in virginity. When we consider the connection between the proliferation of guns to 1) the paranoia, fear and anti-government sentiments upon which our culture is built, 2) to the religious racism upon which our nation was founded, and 3) the support of nativism by politicians to garner votes (as discussed in the last three posts), we begin to understand that guns serve a Turner Diaries-type purpose. The reason for our religious zeal in clinging to our guns is not for hunting or protecting our home – for as Ronald Reagan once observed – you don’t need an automatic weapon for either. Our obsession with guns is to arm one race over and against another.
Do you really believe that a black (or Latino) man can walk around the city legally carrying an AR-15 as a white man can? Gun rights have not pertained, whether now or in the past, to protecting the health and safety of the non-white members of our society. Only whites can open carry. Don’t believe me? Then take five minutes to watch this video that experimented with having a white man and a black man open carry to document how the police treated each differently. But if you are black, forget the AR-15 – a box of Skittles is enough to get you killed.
We have become so accustomed to the daily spilling of blood that most simply yawn. And if yawning and ignoring the bloodshed is what we do, then should we finally admit it, the awful truth, that the bloodshed of certain people has become boring? And if something is boring, does it really matter?