I don’t particularly care about the shooting

And if you do, then you’re racist, or a nationalist which is at least as absurd.

I didn’t say I don’t care. Of course I care about children dying. I just don’t particularly care. I don’t actually know them or their families. Children are dying violent deaths every day all over the world. I don’t mean to be dismissive about it. I literally cannot mourn them all and still be a functional human being. What is disturbing to me is the sense that this event is deserving of special recognition all over the country, and to only a slightly lesser extent in other countries with predominantly white populations. I would hope folks would appreciate my honesty but I don’t expect brownie points for it.

Obama has ordered drone strikes that have killed over 180 Pakistani and Iranian children. I care about those kids as well and I have talked about it on several occasions with what small voice I have, but that’s about it. It’s not getting anywhere near the media attention of this event involving American children and I realize I’m pretty powerless to do anything about that. It’s frustrating, but it would be exponentially more frustrating if I deluded myself about my ability to change it.

The massive public display of crocodile tears over this event isn’t going to change anything (for the better) either, but I’m sure that’s a common justification for these hysterics–that this is close to home and therefore we have a chance to prevent it in the future. You probably have a better chance of preventing the further deaths of those foreign children, which is to say, “not much”. But their murderer is still alive and at least theoretically subject to political pressure for his choices of actions. That problem appears to have a simpler answer.

It seems like folks don’t have any idea how to prevent something like this from happening again so they’re trying to find a convenient scapegoat for a very complex and endemic problem. Meanwhile much of the media is milking the emotional reaction that racist and nationalistic people are inclined to have over an incident like this. This kind of special attention might actually be making these events more likely. This piece by Marilyn Manson deserves a re-read. It’s what inspired me to write this, actually.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s hope for a better future to be sure, but I think it’s a setback when we oversimplify the problem. I already see an attempt to address this in a surgical manner. TV reporters are interviewing friends of the family and people are speculating wildly about what THE problem was with this particular child’s circumstances. I could come up with a whole list of problems about our culture that contribute to depression and to aggressive and/or suicidal feelings in kids–schools and adults in general treat kids like prisoners or slaves and suppress their personal expression, don’t let them have a voice or even chastise them for expressing an “incorrect” opinion, don’t respect their choices if they’re at all non-traditional, etc. My personal bias is already showing. The point is, it would be quite egotistical for me to think I was more than barely scratching the surface of how to prevent something like this from happening again so I have no excuse for such blatantly racist and nationalist behavior as to express a particular sympathy for these families whom I don’t know over the hundreds of other families I don’t know who have lost children to violence.

Post your angry comments below. I hope it’s cathartic for you.

 


Discussion (5)¬

  1. Marty says:

    If we want to STOP the mass shootings, we have to:
    STOP reporting on them like they’re some obscene sport, making the perpetrators famous and ranking their “score” against other shooters.
    STOP disarming the victims, so that one of them can defend the rest.
    and STOP supporting mass killers of children no matter what costume or title they hide behind.

  2. Henry Bowman says:

    “What is disturbing to me is the sense that this event is deserving of special recognition all over the country.”

    I suspect we are learning now exactly what “under the radar” looks like to this administration.

  3. Gabriel says:

    Point taken. However, I think “crocodile tears” is going a bit far. It’s pretty clear that the shock, outrage and sadness expressed by many is quite genuine. The reasons why this has stirred up so many more emotions here than, say, civilian casualties in Pakistan or Iran, are complex (and I suspect that for most people, simple ignorance of the situation overseas plays a much larger role than nationalism or racism). Certainly nationalism plays a role, but to condemn anyone who feels strongly about the Connecticut shootings as jingoistic or racist basically aborts any opportunity for constructive discourse. People naturally have stronger emotional reactions to anything that feels “closer to home”: if it happened in Newtown, it suddenly feels more plausible that it could happen to our own children. Yes, to feel preferentially sad about deaths in one’s country is irrational, but so is feeling preferentially sad about deaths of one’s friends or family: they’re no more valuable than anyone else’s friends and family. Yet I’m not about to start condemning anyone who has a particularly strong emotional reaction to deaths in their circle of friends, community, nation, or any other group that they personally identify with. It’s how we’re wired.

    Railing against that fact doesn’t seem likely to fix anything. Instead, I hope more bloggers, independent news orgs, etc. take the route of putting a human face on the drone strike casualties (as it sounds like you have been doing, commendably). If the media covered drone strike casualties in the same way that they covered this story–focusing on parents’ stories, interviewing eyewitnesses, etc.–you can bet that many of the people who expressed particular outrage about this shooting would be expressing particular outrage to their congresspeople about our military policy. So don’t write us all off as morally bankrupt. Some of us just need to be educated in the right way.

  4. Dale says:

    Gabriel, the ignorance of the situation overseas is also tied to nationalism, albeit that which is encouraged by our own government and media. If people actually cared enough to pay attention, the information is out there, but the mainstream media is manipulating our emotions by what they choose to cover or not.

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