Perpetual Gun Blood

October 3, 2015

Impossible machine
Turn on the news: it’s a tape loop. It’s as if it’s beyond our power to change. To hear the talk of some politicians about gun blood, this is indeed the case.

Front-running presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) thinks it’s unfixable. After this latest gun massacre at an Oregon community college he said, “That’s the way the world works, and that’s the way the world always has worked. You’re going to have these things happen …you’re going to have difficulty… for the next million years. It’s not politically correct to say, there’s going to be difficulty, and people are going to slip through the cracks,” —Talking Points Memo, 10/2/15.

So forget a President Trump looking for a solution to gun violence. For him gun massacres are as impossible to stop as malaria, polio, or the cold war. Imagine that kind of absolute pessimism infecting the work of those who labored for years at doing those impossible things and succeeded. In fact, the political correctness that Trump (and the majority of the Gang of Ids vying for the Republican nomination) ought to violate is the one that insists we do nothing about the possession of guns by anyone who just wants them, including a few psychopaths. To utter that is to call down the ghost of Rush Limbaugh (whose radio career has happily all but croaked).

And, should we think court jester Trump is the only one in such a paralytic state of mind re: gun blood, there’s Jeb.

Hear! Jeb Bush (same script, different guy):  “Look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something…” —Rolling Stone, 10/2/15

Well, yeah, that would be the impulse of a responsible being. Even less intellectually endowed beings, like chimps and elephants do something in the face of threats to their community. It’s only human beings who have the insane inclination to set ideology in concrete no matter what the bloody reality might be.

But finding ourselves caught in a mud pit of our own creation, a war of our own making, or realizing we’re compliant muscles of the monster we’ve made —this is not new.

Religionists often chalk up earthly events to God’s will, feel comforted, and let it go at that. But others have copped Darwin’s genius to use for political purposes. Claiming “top dogs deserve their loftiness,” they claw on, elbowing out some less able contestant in Darwin’s world to gain what turns out to be city blocks of glass skyscrapers by means of tiny sins. Regrettably, as they go, and we follow, they’re building the Impossible-Exit Machine, piece by piece, bribe by legal  bribe, until it seems unlikely we’ll ever be able to un-build it.

But, again, this isn’t anything new. John Steinbeck, in his 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath, wrote something that’s very resonant today. He wrote of “bankers and companies” —as we today may as pointedly write of “bankers and corporations” (such as gun manufactures and their goon organization, the NRA).

The “owner men” Steinbeck cites in the passage below are set to evict dust-bowltenant farmers from the land they’ve worked for generations. Owner-men and farmers caught, ostensibly, by circumstances, not in control of their own destinies, in a situation dictated by a man-made monster:

“The owners of the land came onto the land…they came in closed cars…the owner men drove into the dooryards and sat in their cars to talk out of the windows. The tenant men stood beside the cars for a while, and then squatted…and found sticks with which to mark the dust.

“Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insists—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You’ve scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.”

Well, God knows things were grim then and are grim now in many ways, worse for some than others, with those others not only content but passionately committed to keeping things the way they are, men like Trump and Jeb who either are, or work at the behest of, the monster we’ve created and are all enmeshed in.

So, shall we squat to find “sticks with which to mark the dust,” or stand to stop Owner-Men and political ideologists from running the It’s-Impossible Game “for the next million years” until gun-blood (among other things) becomes one more thing that just happens.

Jim Culleny


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