Memorial Day: The Failed State At Home

I have been reluctant to write anything about the racist slaughter in Buffalo New York, where ten people, most of them black Americans, were murdered by a young white racist; or last week’s massacre of 19 children and two teachers by an emotionally disturbed 18-year-old former student.

What more can I, or any of us, say?

Far, far too many times over the years I’ve written posts about senseless mass murder in the United States.

Every time, I feel the same futility and rage that nothing will change after the initial shock wears off, and the upcoming NFL season, a Johnny Depp trial, or the next war crowds out other news.

As I wrote after both the Rexburg, Oregon and Las Vegas shootings, we are a culture marinated in violence at all levels – in our entertainment, sports, public discourse, and our organization around a permanent war state.

As was predicted, the wars of the United States over the last two decades have come home.

Poorly socialized men (many of them quite young) seek redress for the frustrations of their lives by imitating the military special operations “heroes” presented by the mass media: carrying M-4 carbines and wearing tactical vests or body armor. In their minds, they are earning their “man card” (a meme used by at least one gun manufacturer).

A tiny percentage of these most disturbed take the next step and duplicate this country’s approach to war by committing mass murder in school rooms, movie theaters, outdoor events, and churches.

And because the senseless slaughter continues year after bloody year, and Congress is reluctant or unable to actually address all the issues that would be required to alter our trajectory, we will see many more of these massacres as societal dysfunction and individual alienation increase.

I’ve heard the news reports saying that compromise on firearm violence appears possible “this time” – but I am unconvinced. This is an election year and all politicians will retreat into their safe spaces as the election draws nearer or the latest polls turns against them.

What does it say of our society that we are unable to compromise and find a way to protect our innocent children and other citizens from mass murder?

What does it say that our predatory-capitalist system, run by “masters of the universe” cannot ensure a reliable supply of baby formula for all families?

Or that the only response of government is to fly in baby formula from other countries?

I can’t get the image of US Air Force planes flying in baby formula out of my head.

What was described as a great success by the US government is something much more disturbing.

The US used to fly aid to other countries in distress – not bring it to our citizens. None of the empty-headed “highly trusted” news anchors made that obvious comment.

What does it say that Congress with little to no actual debate approved another $40 billion dollar relief for the war in Ukraine (on top of the $10 billion already approved) – with most of that money going into the bank accounts of US “defense” companies?

What does it say that those $40 billion dollars could have repaired 43,856 bridges – most over 60 years old – that are structurally deficient in this country?

What will it say, starting over the next several months, when the worldwide shortages of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) further stresses the “warehouse on wheels” of most supply chains, and grocery and other stores begin having empty shelves?

DEF is used to control nitrogen oxide in diesel exhaust – nitrogen oxides are dangerous highly reactive gases.  Urea, used to manufacture DEF, is primarily supplied by Russia…I guess that’ll be another big “oops” from the Biden administration.

What does it say that Memorial Day, while always considered the “start of summer”- still retained some solemnity for many years in remembrance of all the war dead of this countries various wars, but is now almost exclusively a day for celebrating mattress sales and the newest Top Gun recruiting movie?

By any definition, all the above is reflective of a nation state in crisis, and heading towards an even bleaker future.

Perhaps on this Memorial Day, in addition to the ever smaller numbers of old veterans and families that remember friends and families lost in war,  all of us should pause for a moment, and remember the children of Sandy Hook and Uvalde, and our citizens from Buffalo.

And maybe think about what we are losing – trust in each other and the government that is supposed to serve all of us.

 

 

Author: Tom

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