Armed with four high powered weapons a 24 year old student burst into a cinema in Aurora, Colorado and killed 12 people and wounded 59 more. Yet one more massacre in the US. This is horrific. It has to be condemned without qualification. As well as being able to buy his guns legally James Holmes was also able to buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition legally. He also, "wore a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector, and a groin protector, and black tactical gloves", according to the local police chief. He had various military devices including gas canisters that he used to disorient his victims.
When cops went to his apartment after the killings they found it was booby trapped with trip wires and there were sixty explosive devices, including 30 homemade grenades in the booby-trapped apartment.
Let us be clear. Any system which allows a 24-year old science student to buy 4 high powered weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and all this other military weaponry legally on the open market and it fails to throw up any red flags is a system that is broken. He wasn't going duck hunting. "Background checks, as required by federal law, were properly conducted and he was approved" says the owner of one store where he bought some of his weaponry. Might we suggest that "federal law" as written is not adequate.
Those of us that produce this blog are not in favor of banning all guns. Then the only people who would have guns would be the state apparatus, it's police and the rich. And we know who they would be used against. But we are in favor of a rational gun policy. Surely, a young science student purchasing all this weaponry and armor should trigger a check in any sane gun control policy. All four of the guns used in the Columbine school massacre were bought at gun shows without background checks.
Perhaps the only thing more nauseating than the massacre is the cowardice of the capitalist politicians and the mass media to go after the National Rifle Association. One generality and one more "my heart goes out to the families" and we will puke. The NRA even had the neck to say this. This is an organization dominated by corporate politicians, judges and other representatives of the bourgeois as well as the gun manufacturers. The organized working class is what will defend our right to have a gun, we can't rely on the 1% to.
Of course the other thing is that any discussion about guns in the US really only takes place when there are massacres like this. But life in the poor neighborhoods of the big US cities are daily massacres. In Chicago, from 2007 to 2011 450 people on average were shot dead every year. (Wall Street Journal.) The US has far more gun deaths per year than all of the advanced capitalist countries.
The mass media keeps the discussion on the issue tightly controlled. The simplest explanation? He was evil. What that means who knows. James Holmes and Saddam Hussein are evil, Donald Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger, both far more efficient mass murderers, are not.
There must be no discussion about society, about how society is organized. The alienation people feel in US society and the uncertainty. This must not be any part of the discussion. The pressure on people to succeed, to consume---success being possession of material things--- owning the Harley, the car with names like "Integra" and "Infinity"-----it's a transportation vehicle for Christ's sake. You must have the right house in the right neighborhood and the right school for your kids. The way to get these things is to enter in to debt servitude which will help make this brutalizing state of uncertainty permanent---until you crack up----- which you will eventually do in one way or another because you blame yourself when this impossible dream turns in to the nightmare that it is. Individuals are a part of society and deeply affected by it.
There must be no talk about the mass unemployment in the neighborhoods with the most violence. There must be no talk about the mass entertainment industry which glorifies violence and makes people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone millionaires. The Arnold who as politician talked about getting tough on youth crime and the need for tough sentences. There is never a mention of the video games, that children and teenagers spend hours playing, interactive games where kids can act out their war fantasies and learn tactics and methods for mass killing. These are partially developed by the US military industrial complex as early training for the cannon fodder it will send abroad to kill and be killed fighting the US corporate wars. Watch foreign television and US television and see the overwhelming presence of guns and killing on the latter. As bad as things are here in this regard, Hollywood even exaggerates that. I have been in the US 40 years and never seen a cop car drive down the sidewalk knocking fruit stands over.
In today's Wall Street Journal, Sohrab Ahrami equates the Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik who killed 69 youth at a Labor Party retreat in Norway with the Aurora killer. Despite Breivik and our killer in Aurora most likely having different motives, for Ahrami as a representative of the 1% they are the same, they "represent evil" and that's it. They need to be put to death. But Holmes walked in to a crowded theater and killed randomly. It didn't matter to him if they were rich, poor, conservative, liberal, men or women etc. Breivik was ideologically driven. He is a right wing neo- Nazi and white supremacist who targeted a socialist youth camp.Ahrami also pours scorn on the Norwegians for their soft treatment of prisoners and short jail sentences, particularly for not having the death penalty. Like most European countries the death penalty is not used which is why some of them refuse to have extradition treaties with the US where we execute teenagers and the mentally impaired. The US justice system has two million people in prison, over half of these are people of color-----it is a racist system and nothing to boast about.
There is another notable omission in the headlines about this act of domestic terror. The perpetrator is from a good church going Christian family. There is no headline identifying him as a Christian terrorist. No mention of Christianity in all of this and neither should there be. But we know that would not be the case were he Muslim. And all this nonsense about religion being the bedrock of morality and the guide to decent living doesn't amount to a hill of beans.
No, we must not discuss capitalism and the effect such a destructive and inhumane social system has on the individuals within it. How did this recent killer learn the tactical skills he used in that theater slaughtering innocents? No, there cannot be any discussion about the capitalist system which alienates so many people, which leaves so many lives empty and unfulfilled and open to such atrocities as carried our in Aurora. The US mass media wants no serious analysis or explanation, dumb them down is the aim. The latest mass killing is "not the result of lax gun laws or or some profound societal ill" the WSJ says in today's editorial. No wonder the consciousness of the US working class is not high.
What needs to be understood and explained is this. And we would like to turn to two heroic figures of the working class movement, Malcolm X and James Connolly.. You cannot have capitalism without racism and violence Malcolm X pointed out. And as James Connolly said before him:
"Capitalism teaches the people the moral conceptions of cannibalism are the strong devouring the weak; its theory of the world of men and women is that of a glorified pig-trough where the biggest swine gets the most swill."
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