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CSotD: July 4 in the Free-Fire Zone
Bill Bramhall depicts the Fourth of July in the New Normal, in which we can’t always distinguish the traditional fireworks from the new tradition of killing each other. My favorite part of the cartoon is that she’s only moderately concerned; it’s not like she’s leaping from the couch or he’s poised at the window.
Maybe it’s fireworks. Maybe it’s murder. We have to expect both, of course, though I suppose if it’s gunfire, we might want to go watch the TV in the basement rec room, like we do when the tornado sirens wail. Just in case.
We’ll let Dr. MacLeod represent the various cartoons expressing more chagrin than horror at yesterday’s shootings in Highland Park. Which might also be yesterday’s shootings in Chattanooga or Phoenix or Mesa or Summerton, SC, or Boston or Sacramento or Chicago or Richmond or Kansas City or Kenosha.
Best headline honors go to coverage of this shooting on July 3 in Surprise, Arizona, because, of course, there’s no possibility of misinterpreting it. Shootings aren’t a surprise anymore.
The NRA emphasize the importance of firearms with this holiday reminder, and followed it up with this:
The posts came, admittedly, before the Highland shootings but, well, come on, folks.
At least they didn’t insult our intelligence by posting a load of “thoughts and prayers” after all the mayhem by their armed citizens.
Mrs. Betty Bowers offers this collection of thoughts and prayers from Mike Pence, which I note are several years old, but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? Thoughts and prayers never go out of date, and are just as good today as they were then.
And, on a related note:
Keith Knight posted this K Chronicles before the slaughter of Jayland Walker, but the specific timing hardly matters.
I’m uncomfortable with the term “copaganda,” because it makes it sound like something being imposed upon us rather than something we’re wallowing in of our own free will.
A half-century ago, we made heroes of real-life Frank Serpico as well as fictional Frank Bullitt and John Shafthonest cops pushing back against the corruption of the Thin Blue Line, but those aspirational depictions were quickly out-earned at the box office by Dirty Harrya cop who had no respect for restrictive civil rights, and death wish, about a vigilante gunning down suspects, and both vengeance-festivals sparked numerous sequels.
It’s not so much a plot as a system, in which profit and power follow the public’s taste for blood, suspense, fear and excitement.
It doesn’t always follow a law-and-order “copaganda” menu, either: We’ve not only made heroes of mafia murderers and violent-though-endearing bank robbers, but people flock to see goalie-masked psychopaths carve up their victims and escape into the fog.
And here’s the timeless part: A decade ago, Keef noted a disturbing element and outcome:
It’s that last panel that relates back to all the real-life murder we’re seeing today.
There have been a number of paranoid observations on social media this morning about how the (suspected) Highland Park mass murderer was taken alive because he’s white. None of them list all the Black mass murderers who were or were not taken alive, because they’d find the statistical sample just a wee bit small.
Which seems odd, given that you’d think, as Knight’s second entry here suggests, that young white men would feel empowered rather than embittered, but, as he notes, there has also been a concerted effort to ramp up their sense of oppression, as well as their distrust of the government which, bizarrely enough, is dominated by folks who look like them.
But somehow the flood of unhinged mass murderers shares that racial identity.
There are no simple answers to all this, and it’s equally hard to pin it all on one element or to dismiss the other possibilities. It’s been a real group effort!
For instance, there was a concerted effort made to pander to Satanic Panic and Stranger Danger, not only on television with “America’s Most Wanted,” but with local police fingerprinting toddlers to keep them safe from fictional villains instead of from the for-real sexual predators in their personal lives.
As I wrote in 1993:
People lined up at the mall for a balloon, a lollipop and to have their children’s fingerprints sent off to the IngSoc central repository.
Then a junior high in our area put on a presentation to explain the sexual harassment and issues their children were actually facing in real life.
They ran notices in the paper and sent letters to all parents.
On the night of the program, the entire audience consisted of the principal, the district’s Title IX officer, two faculty members from the high school, a school board member from a issues district and me, the local family columnist.
No parents, no members of their own school board.
As I wrote then:
But I guess real threats aren’t as much fun as drummed-up media hype, which is how we end up here:
Juxtaposition of the Day
We have managed, somehow, to create a world in which a political party can insist against all decency and logic that it values life while not only firing mass shootings to occur time after time after time, but to convince its followers that mass murders are the price of freedom.
And that women — even 10 year old rape victims — are required to carry their pregnancies to term, but, as Jones points out, the same government that values children is not obligated to support them.
Conservative governments in various states are concerned that American Exceptionalism is not being taught in classrooms.
I think it should be, but, looking around the world, I don’t think the Exceptionalism I have in mind is the same as the Exceptionalism those rightwing America-Firsters have in mind.
The fact is, whether we accept reality or insist on dwelling in our own fantasies, the whole world in watching, aghast.
As we clean up this morning in the wake of our National Holiday, Turkish cartoonist Halit Kurtulmus Aytoslu shows the image we project:
And here’s the hard part: The more normal a habit becomes, the harder it becomes to break.
Well, they do say you have to hit rock bottom. Are we there yet?