American Mawkishness

I just plain don’t understand why some progressive Americans — especially those from the white middle-class — are twisting in paroxsyms of agonied astonishment that their media is refusing to portray white supremacist Wade Michael Page’s Gurudwara slaughter-fest as an act of terror.

For gods’ bleeding sake, people, what’s the big mystery here? Your country, just like every single other country in the world, is a deeply racist collective run by power-mad bastards. You folks just like to delude yourselves more than most. Snap out of it. Stop bleating like bewildered baa-lambs lost in cyberspace. Grow a spine and accept the truth about your nation and yourselves.

And it might, just might, set you free.

58 Responses to American Mawkishness

  1. Tegan says:

    Oh gods, people are being SURPRISED at this country’s nasty bigotry? Why are people idiots Rimi? We seem to be surrounded by them. That’s right up there with the food blogger I briefly read who was like “well, I guess I’m the 1% just don’t occupy my living room unless you want cake!” and I was like wtf?

    Also, this country has NEVER accepted any of its terrorism for what it is. And never will.

  2. Priyanka says:

    The following below are Facebook comments on this post, which was my status on the social media platform yesterday:

  3. Priyanka says:

    This whole “Oh but I can’t believe it’s actually happening HERE!” bullshit is deeply annoying. How hysterically blind can people be?

  4. satireismysecondname says:

    Exactly, and it thoroughly is agonizing in trying to understand what pain and misery that would have been to them. I am even incapable of emphathising, news can sometimes blow heads off.

  5. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    I think we all know why.

  6. Sundaramurthy Siddharth says:

    U hit the nail right on the head, DELUSION it is. They think they are living in a perfect world

    • Priyanka says:

      Thanks, but I think, rather, that they know they aren’t, and this knowledge pains and frightens them. Unlike the racist or indifferent factions, these people actually care what happens to people and the national character, and since said national character has been on a downward slide for quite some time, denial is probably the most comfortable option for the weaker of the small progressive crowd.

    • Priyanka says:

      In a way, it’s like the mainstream Indian’s reaction to people from the North East. “Aww, isn’t it cute how *diverse* India is? India is awesome!”. This generous inclusiveness helps them gloss over the rotten state of daily affairs in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura… whichever state you choose to name. Denial is a powerful political weapon.

  7. Sundaramurthy Siddharth says:

    Very true.

  8. James W. Hoover says:

    I’ve been expecting something like this to happen very specifically right where I live (about 75 miles from the site of the massacre) precisely because of the recent changes in the gun laws, and because of the pro-violence rhetoric that has been coming out of the Republican / Tea Party state government. In fact, this isn’t the first incident, it’s just the first big incident. There have been several racially-motivated shootings in the state since the “concealed carry” law went into effect.

  9. Priyanka says:

    Meaning it’s legal to carry a loaded weapon concealed on your person in public? Why is this legal, James? It poses a danger to everybody — including the carrier — irrespective of race or nationality. There has been an alarming rise in unregistered fire-arm possession hereabouts too, but it’s all strictly illegal here. Cold comfort, but there you are.

  10. James W. Hoover says:

    Because the gun manufacturers have a powerful lobby and contribute enormous amounts of money to the Republican party. It’s a huge industry in the U.S.

    • James W. Hoover says:

      The political argument for letting people walk around with concealed weapons is that it deters crime. It’s a specious argument, in my opinion.

  11. Priyanka says:

    Well, of course it’s a specious argument! How on EARTH does it deter crime? Oh wait, so we can whip out our firearms like Bond and put the lead in all the right places? What absolute bollocks. If guns are legal then the criminal we’re trying to protect ourselves from will be armed too, for gods’ sake. And they’ll have their weapon ready, since they know they’re about to commit a crime, but we don’t till they’ve jumped us. Who believes this rubbish?

  12. James W. Hoover says:

    Exactly. But everyone thinks they’re going to become an action hero when the villain appears. Since I actually have had a thug aim a gun at my face, I don’t buy this for a moment. But the NRA (the gun lobby) makes a huge deal out of every incident in which an armed citizen takes down an assailant. We never hear about all the times a citizen whips out a gun in self-defense and either gets killed by the criminal or gunned down accidentally by the (naturally) very confused police as they show up.

  13. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    Ah, gun control. I don’t even know why this issue comes up for debate. As a note, Rimi, there is a fairly strong lobby brewing in India which intends to liberalise weapons laws in the country. That’d be something.

  14. James W. Hoover says:

    Lurking behind this whole nasty business is the subject of “race,” which – as you know – is always a controversial topic in the U.S. Implicit in the Republican pro-gun rhetoric is the idea that the “armed citizen” is always white. I’m sure that if non-white men started carrying concealed weapons for protection, the police would immediately shoot them to death “in self defense, because the alleged suspect was armed.” That’s how this country works.

  15. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    I have been called a racist, regionalist, and a secessionist, today. My life has meaning and reason again. :-)

  16. Priyanka says:

    Re. police shooting non-white people in possession of a gun, isn’t that what happened to a young man who was returning home in a gated community a few months back? I’m very bad with names so I forget his, but I believe what the murderer said in his defence was that he was in charge of security, and he didn’t think a black boy could be a resident of a gated community.

  17. James W. Hoover says:

    @Rimi… except that I don’t think the suspect was a security guard, and the boy was unarmed. He simply happened to be black and wearing a “hoodie” in a predominately white neighborhood. However, a huge number of white Americans think every black and Latino male they see is a criminal. And it’s precisely for this reason that we don’t want armed citizens taking up the role of crime-buster, judge, jury, and executioner. Over half the people in this country would fail the screening test required to sit on a jury, so why on earth would we give them weapons?

    • The screening test for sitting on an American jury, a.k.a. the voire dire, amounts to, “You’re smart enough to see through an invalid argument? OK, you can go home now.”

  18. Lali Chattoraj Sengupta says:

    Rimi, I saw on ABC news, a man, SHeriff-ish dressed, no clue about who he was really, say, “well, actually a lot of people here mistake the sikhs for muslims, you know, like Osama”, as though that justifies everything and makes all shootings and discrimination OK. It was amazing – this guy was on national TV, EVEN in India they would have edited it out, so the feeling this man was sayingout loud was pretty pervasive. The US gun lobby is sort of like our tobacco lobby, only more powerful, much more, and thus, more dangerous. A Columbine could not change the law, neither will any future such incidents and they will happen with alarming frequency. I dont know about other countries, haven’t lived there, but UK does very well maintaining law and order with just a baton in hte coppers hands, except for major security areas. The hypocrisy is not there in just the white supremacist American skinhead or KKK supporter. MIchael Moore, who I used to admire quite a bit for his Bowling for Columbine and some books and blogs and then his generally anti-Bush stand. So here is how Fahrenheit 911 proceeds. The twin tower implosions happen and it is very well and artistically picturised, getting all the agony minus the gore, which is how it should be, – and not how they are here, dead bodies strewn all over (I remember this particular shot of Rajiv Gandhi after the blast where he died – it was of him lying prone on his stomach, legs barely there and naked from his waist down. – and I remember thinking how insensitive journalism could be, but I digress) – but then when they show Afghans being shot and Pakistanis dead all over in the shockand awe war against terror, the faces were there for all to see, for possible relatives watching it – ok the chances are remote, but its the principle behind it which I find sickening. It was not necessary to be sensitive, they were not Americans. It is a wonder there are people like James there, because even from most first or second generation Indians there, all we get is how ‘awesome’ it is, how ‘america is great’. Not very different from the Oprah everyone here is criticizing, really.

    • I have heard this sikhs-seem-like-muslims rhetoric coming out of quite a few American media sources of late. I am utterly unclear on how one confuses a Sikh with a Muslim, ideologically or visually – even leaving aside for the moment the offence of this “(s)he was / looked like a Muslim so that makes it okay” argument. I was struck by the fact that The Washington Post, in one of its reports on the shooting, felt compelled to explain to its readers, “”Singh is a common surname for men in the Sikh religion.”

      America is an island nation of 31 crore people, and the inhabitants are hostile.

      • Priyanka says:

        Call me a closet conspiracy theorist, but I prefer to think that have carefully been *made* hostile, by networked efforts of an increasingly asinine and prejudiced media (that the rest of the world copies) and a deteriorating public ed. system.

        Of course, as James above once observed, Indians were treated to similar scare tactics in the BJP-led UDA’s reign of the land, but despite horrific terror attacks before the election, the people voted the partisan BJP-types out of power. Why can poor, uneducated Indians resist a tactic educated and relatively well-off Americans can’t?

        I’d say this is because (a) the media brainwashing in the US does not even compare to that in India in degrees and scope, and (b) respite casual racism everywhere, India’s history of being a victim of violence is still so new, and its ‘diversity’ is such a bone-deep, ancient phenomenon that the incentives that work in the US simply won’t work here.

  19. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    I really like how the underlying takeaway from all these media stories is that “It’d be okay to shoot them if they were indeed Muslims.”

  20. James W. Hoover says:

    @Dhruva… have you heard about the TV show “American Muslim?” If you haven’t, I wouldn’t be surprised. After just two episodes, almost all of the corporate sponsors threatened to dump the network if the show wasn’t canceled. Its only crime? To try to demonstrate that a person could actually be Muslim and American, too. Most of the companies were mainstream, too.

  21. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    I haven’t had a TV in close to a decade, and didn’t really follow it much outside of Cartoon Network and a few other channels before that. I see it was the right sort of gut decision I made.

  22. Priyanka says:

    “Over half the people in this country would fail the screening test required to sit on a jury, so why on earth would we give them weapons?” — what a very excellent question. Why aren’t most people asking it?

  23. Bryce Peake says:

    Look, I see what your saying. But the united states of whiteness is a place where white people don’t die. So when a white person forces the death of a nonwhite person, we are a deeply confused people: a) death? B) nonwhite people, here?

  24. Priyanka says:

    James, it must also have a cultural component, this obsession with firearms. India, as your probably know better than I do, is segregated along class, ethic AND caste lines, and most upper class/castes see stupidity and criminality in the lower ones — just like you suggest white folks do re. non-white ones. So why the guns there and not here? The gun industry and lobbu didn’t grow out of a vaccuum.

    • Culturally, it goes back to colonial America where arms were necessary because you might get killed by that bear unless you shoot it, or your crops might get eaten by that fox unless you shoot it, and especially to the American revolution which succeeded only via the guerilla and terrorist tactics of militias organised from an armed populace (and via the assistance of the French).

      Legally, the wording of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution reflects the American leaders’ ambivalence towards a bunch of yahoos with guns – note the adjective and participle phrases: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The US Second Amendment itself was based on a passage within the Bill of Rights (1689) from England: “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.”

      Deep roots.

      • Priyanka says:

        Very true. I now recall reading about the obligation of every large landowner/title holder to raise a private ‘army’ for the monarch of in defence of church/state/land in England. This could not happen if people were unarmed.

        What I am saying, however, is this: these arms, while deadly enough, do not compare to firearms, which can cause fatal injuries from far away — in effect, without any warning to the intended victim. The precedence of bearing arms doesn’t quite match the context of the new and improved weaponds in a completely different society.

  25. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    It’s natural selection at work. The world’s way of getting the stupid people to kill off as many people as they can, and then wither away. A subtle nudge in the direction of “Go fuck a landmine, human beings. Go fuck a landmine before you infect other worlds.”

  26. James W. Hoover says:

    ‎@Rimi. Guns are part of the white American psyche – part of the country’s history, mystique, image, and a huge part of its entertainment. Guns in the U.S. are seen as a sign of “legitimate white rebellion,” and oddly also as a stamp of authority (which is why conservatives love the police but hate professors). For most Americans, the “right to bear arms” is really secret code for “the right to be armed in order to revolt against the state if it becomes too liberal.” Guns thus are an implicit right-wing threat against political progressives like myself. If you go on YouTube and watch extremist Afrikaaner videos from South Africa, you’ll get a glimpse of what tens of millions of working class white Americans actually think and say when they’re not “on record.” Enough leaks out as it is, but the day by day reality is really horrifying.

  27. Bryce Peake says:

    15 minutes of driving in the US proves natural selection is bullshit. Even less time of you’re on your way to a state university.

  28. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    It should actually be called Natural Rejection, if we do a blow-by-blow of species who died out versus species who made it. In any case, we’re going extinct. Such a waste.

  29. James W. Hoover says:

    :-) Look more closely at your Darwin. It’s not the intelligent or strong who survive, it’s the ones who breed most rapidly. So, yes, natural selection still applies.

  30. Priyanka says:

    Exactly what I was going to say. It’s a miracle elephants survived for so long.

  31. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    Now that we’re actually discussing this- the truth is that the ones who’re the most adaptable to change who survive (speed versus certainty of breeding, etc.). Also, the Red Queen curve, yada yada. It’s made out to be (puns intended) a fucking contest. Meh.

    (Also, I don’t really know what the parameters of specific success are)

  32. Bryce Peake says:

    LOL – you’re a bunch of nerds. But since we’re debating the merits of Darwin, I like hot dogs. When the hot dogs disappear, I’ll eat hamburgers. Now who wants to have reproductive sex?

  33. James W. Hoover says:

    Two words: heart disease. :-) Kind of puts a damper on the sex life, too, if you’re a guy. Apart from which, you’ll have onion breath. So, in terms of Evolution, that’s not a very good argument.

  34. Dhruva Ghosh says:

    ^Or a very good argument, depending on how you’re looking at this.

  35. dipanjan says:

    Media isn’t? FBI is.

  36. Priyanka says:

    Darao. Let me dig up a reference I read sometime back that the Republicans were presurring the FBI programme to monitor right-wing extremists as closely as Muslim-Americans or immigrants. I don’t know if they succeeded, but the report seemed to suggest that they manage to tone down the degree of surveillance.

  37. Page seems to me an individual projection of the essential spirit of the United States in the twenty-first century: a xenophobic, egocentric, hateful place whose imperial triumphs and glories are past and which consequently has become desperate to self-affirm by harming others.

    Also, note that when Americans of Indian origin get murdered by an American in America, it’s front-page news in America, but when an Indian fisherman gets murdered by the American navy in the Persian Gulf, hardly anyone in America seems to know that it happened.

    • Priyanka says:

      “Page seems to me an individual projection of the essential spirit of the United States in the twenty-first century: a xenophobic, egocentric, hateful place whose imperial triumphs and glories are past and which consequently has become desperate to self-affirm by harming others.”

      It is certainly the projection of the spirit of a large chunk of the nation, yes, but calling it the essential spirit wouldn’t explain you, or James and Bryce here, or most of my American friends. I’m not by nature an optimist, but perhaps the state of the nation deserves more kindness :-)

      About armed forces’ atrocities outside US borders, well. I was just discussing the Olympics coverage with a friend last night and he said, “It’s great you wrote about Mary Kom, there’s very little writing about India in the Olympics”. Of course there is… in the US. Why should the US care what happens to Indian atheletes, unless US athletes are facing them? Not reporting deaths in the Persina Gulf might follow a similar logic, besides the usual “We must protect our men and wimmin in uniform at all costs” attitude when the collateral is so insignificant.

    • Obi Wan says:

      I was curious about the origin of such heat directed at our inability to spot and identify Mr. Page, but it might be Andrea Stone’s Huffington Post column. Did she light up our favourite blogger? If anyone can bash the Republicans for a gunman gone wild, we do it just fine. Read this and you’ll be spitting fire too!

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/right-wing-terrorism-sikh-attack_n_1752726.html

      The salient point is Stone’s “expert” information is from a man who worked for Homeland Security and now sells his services privately – in other words, a person who wants people to pay for his “better than the government” services. Of course he’ll suggest that they could have warned everyone about everything and caught them all. “Just hire me!” Give us a break.

      Could we could have halted Page, a friendless loner, a heavy drinker who had just broken up with his girlfriend, living alone in a cheap room, who purchased a single 9mm pistol two weeks before, and mistook Sikhs for Muslims in his suicidal rampage? How? Follow every hate monger in the country? The Indian government knew about Assam, but we don’t see columnists blaming one party or another for preventing slaughter of Muslims by Bodos. It’s simply not possible.

      The son of the murdered Oak Grove Sikh leader, on Rachel Maddow, pleaded for understanding. He praised heroism among his friends, mourned the loss of his father, and cautioned against fanning the flames of hatred, blame and revenge because of the crazed acts of a confused and disturbed man. It might be a better stance than blaming Republicans or the American zeitgeist.

      Right now we’re proud five American teenage gymnasts came home with more medals than Belgium, Finland, and Malaysia combined. Double gold Allie Reisman is a neighbor, 40 miles from me. How about that amazing woman who won gold in judo after having been sexually abused by her first coach? She lives in nearby Wakefield, I drove by her town yesterday. You go girl! What an example that women who have endured such discrimination and abuse don’t have to remain victims! They can triumph. Ms. Kom is interviewed and applauded on our NPR; we respect and praise your winners, and I await a post about our American white middle class women who so better exemplify our spirit.

      Ironically, aside from Ms. Kom’s bronze in boxing, the other two Indian medals were in shooting. Does that mean that India loves guns and fighting over all other sports? Of course not. Perhaps we should be grateful your country has such rigid gun control laws, which we so desperately need. Apparently your countrymen are very good shots indeed. Be-vare, be-vare!

      But how wonderful that our young women, without state sponsorship and mainly supported by their not-rich parents (Gabby Douglas’ single mom went through bankruptcy backing her daughter) could show the entire world how much women can achieve. Sorry for the essay but I’m on the side of the guy whose dad was shot because he wore a turban. Can we try to inch back from all the naming and blaming? Our own columnists do a fine job of that.

      So Jai Bharat! Nice target shooting, but we’re not the target. Neither are we in competition for denouncement. There’s no medal for that one yet, and lets hope they never do. We all need to work on reflection and understanding. Ms. Stone included. Thanks for the wake-up.

  38. Leanne Cole says:

    Here here very well said, we need more statements like this.

  39. Dunno your fb friends, but people are less astonished than truly worried because of stuff like this:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/michele-bachmann-thankful-no-americans-died-in-sik,29071/?ref=auto

    There is trouble if all you can depend on is satire. This being the situation:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/08/sikh-temple-killings-preventable-homeland-security

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