Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An American Tragedy

A perfect storm......shut down mental health facilities, broadcast incendiary messages and ignore federal laws restricting guns to the mentally ill. The beast is un-caged. The beast is fed. Five run-ins with the local police, expulsion from college, death threats issued on the Internet add up to something that resembles causality.

Those whose mission in life seems to be the crippling and dissolution of government would do well to consider the cost to a civil society. In the service of their corporate clients who salivate over low taxes, no regulations and a misdirected anger, they have incited a constituency of hate-filled, unthinking or borderline malcontents. What smells like unfettered greed and rapacity to me must seem to them like some delusion of heedless opportunism.

A muscular foreign policy and indifference to human life finds expression in lawlessness and xenophobia. Their platform of fear and loathing provides ready meat for a parnoid mind. The micro mimics the macro.

When Tony Soprano told his lieutenants to take out his rival the meaning left no room for doubt. Nor did Nixon's orders to get Daniel Ellsberg or any of his perceived enemies. With impunity, Sarah/Rush/Glenn et al speak of targeting Democrats in cross-hairs and only shrug when a deranged and armed young man spills blood. The rhetoric and images posted give license and legitimacy to susceptible minds. Whether Jared Loughner was a follower of Fox news fantasies is a moot point. That he is a good fit for their rants seems clear enough.

Violence is a dominating thread in our national fabric. From slavery to genocide to lynching and wars-without-end we have been an outlaw country.Thankfully we are a creature with two heads, gazing in opposite directions.

Co-existent with aggression we have also been the haven of freedom and tolerance and the great experiment of political democracy. Almost all the issues since our inception are part of a dialog between these two strains in the American narrative.

The events in Arizona are an American tragedy, the consequence of a far right agenda which is no less a threat to our democracy than any plot coming out of the caves of Waziristan.

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