Is This Who We Are?

Over the weekend the Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, blamed just about everything on the planet for the Santa Fe High School shooting except, you know, guns.

The Republican lieutenant governor also said, “We can’t sit back and say, ‘It’s the gun.’ It’s us as a nation, George … On this Sunday morning, when we all go to church and pray or go to synagogue or the mosque or wherever we go, let’s look inward at ourselves as a nation.”

Stephanopoulos asked, “But when we look inward, sir, aren’t we going to find that guns are more available here in greater numbers, in greater lethality, than any other developed country in the world?”

“They are, George,” Patrick said, “and here’s the reality: They are a part of who we are as a nation. It is our Second Amendment.”

I’m all for looking inward at ourselves as a nation. And when we do, we ought to be honest with ourselves that “we” have a problem with guns. And by “we” I mean our fellow citizens who harbor a toxic mix of aggrieved entitlement, masculinity issues and firearm fetishism.

Josh Marshall wrote a couple of days ago (please read all of this):

School shootings are a contagious phenomenon in American society which virtually always involves boys in late adolescence who have histories of rage and alienation and play that out in mass atrocity attacks at their school, which for them is their social world.

We can all see that they are highly choreographed, often using the same set of strategies to maximize fatalities, sometimes with new innovations which are then folded into the ritual of attack. What we call extremist ideologies are really just the languages these guys glom onto to articulate and understand those impulses. This doesn’t mean extremist groups and extremist ideologies don’t matter. For some, they clearly provide a language and a rationale and even a sense of righteousness to their actions. For some that helps bridge the path between extreme rage and actual violence.

But if that’s absent, it’s no mystery. Because it’s a mistake to see them as the real driver. Again, this happens all the time. The motive is pretty clear: angry and alienated young man, a late adolescent consumed with rage and alienation who lives in the United States and thus has become a devotee of the cult, the ideology of the redemptive school shooting atrocity. The ideology is really the cult of the mass shooting, in which the gun, with all its cultural and political omnipotence, plays a central role. Every school shooter learned from the history of school shootings, mimicked the strategies, was in a sense acting out a ritual which has become deeply rooted in our culture. We know the motive. We know the ideology: rage and alienation transmuted through mass gun violence. [Emphasis added]

And if the boy manages to grow up without killing anybody, he turns into the specimen in the photo above, in which he expresses his identity, his sense of manhood, through guns. We are threatened by a cult of the gun, which has become culturally and politically omnipotent. And supporting this is one big, toxic, twisted, neurotic sickness that has replaced any sense of honor, decency or responsibility in many American men.

Back in 2013 I wrote a post titled “Gun Culties vs. Everybody Else” about a man who had sheltered some children during the Sandy Hook shooting who was being harassed by “truthers.” The die-hard culties are buggier than road kill in August. They get catered to becausee they are single-issue voters backed by a powerful lobbying organization that many legislators fear. See also “Guns as Sacred Objects.”

I agree with Charles Blow, that we must all become single-issue voters where it comes to gun control.

People seeking common sense gun control must become single-issue voters on gun control. Support for more restrictions may not be the only reason to vote for a candidate, but it must be sufficient to vote against one.

We have to stop waiting for politicians to display courage and instead start to instill fear in them.

We must not let these weenies with guns continue to terrorize us and slaughter our children.

I’d like to make one more point. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the Santa Fe shooter, is believed to have gone on his rampage because he wouldn’t take “no” from a girl.

Sadie Rodriguez, a mother of one of the victims, Shana Fisher, said that the shooter approached her daughter in class. Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times that Fisher “had four months of problems from this boy” and “he kept making advances on her, and she repeatedly told him no.”

She said the the boy became more and more aggressive, according to The Times, which wrote that he “continued to get more aggressive, and she finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class” a week before the shooting.

I haven’t found any details about how Pagourtzis had been “embarassed.” It sounds as if the late Ms. Fisher tried to let him down easy and finally was driven to calling him out. Did she report him to school authorities? If she had, would they have done anything (I am skeptical)?

For a subset of our citizens, guns have become the totem through which their cartoonish notions of “manhood” are actualized. And as long as that’s the case, we’re all in danger. Our message to them has to be, No, this is not who we are.