In the coming days, we’ll learn about the victims -- young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone who’s grieving with our prayers and our love. But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America -- next week, or a couple of months from now. -- Barack Obama, on the mass shooting that killed nine people in Oregon.
The Department of Defense has launched a full investigation, and we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy. ...Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to all of the civilians affected by this incident, their families, and loved ones. We will continue to work closely with President Ghani, the Afghan government, and our international partners to support the Afghan National Defense and Security forces as they work to secure their country." -- Barack Obama, on the American bombing of a hospital that has killed at least 23 people in Afghanistan.
One condolence is eloquently maudlin and extended, the other is every bit as brief and clinical and detached as the series of "surgical strikes" that literally ripped apart an operating room, and incinerated critically ill people trapped in their beds.
If Obama is even dimly aware of his own cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy, he is doing his utmost to hide it. But as ever, when a mass shooting occurs on his turf, the sycophantic press makes him the center of the story. This time, as the New York Times mawkishly commiserated, he was "as visibly angry and frustrated as he has ever appeared in public during a brief televised statement from the White House."
And as George Orwell similarly commiserated in Animal Farm:
“I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”I suppose that the people killed and injured in the Doctors Without Borders hospital made the wrong decision to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the deservedly despised Jeb Bush said about the Oregon shootings: "Stuff happens."
It must be hard out there for a Commander in Chief being expected to ask that Congress enact gun control laws, when he is simultaneously demanding that they allocate billions of dollars for guns, bombs and Predator Drones for his global adventures! How hard it must be for him to castigate others for offering bland thoughts and prayers when he himself offers nothing but bland thoughts and prayers.
It seems that the only lives that count are American lives. Only American murder victims are looked upon as human beings who have been denied the chance to hope, dream, grow up, or grow old. When foreign people are killed, they are coldly downgraded to "the civilians affected by this incident."
It could have been worse. Obama has at least bestowed upon them a bare minimum of humanity. His generals are still sticking to their own sanguine Collateral Damage depersonalization: Stuff happened.
Obama has long had a built-in auto-response to both types of murders. Domestic shooters are troubled young men who get hold of guns despite their mental health issues. Military shooters are patriots who often get accepted into the armed forces despite their mental health issues. And if they didn't have any mental health issues before they joined up, their chances of developing them skyrocket once the government issues them lethal weaponry and orders them to use it.
A year before the Sandy Hook massacre that had Obama weeping on TV, an American soldier named Bobby Bales went on a shooting rampage in Afghanistan, young children among his 16 victims. Obama's response was boilerplate-similar to his reaction to the hospital bombing: “This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan."
Many of the young male perpetrators of mass mayhem, both military and domestic, can't even remember a day when this country has not been at war. Obama himself has grotesquely dubbed them the "9/11 Generation."
He said last year,
America endures in the courage of the men and women who serve under our flag. Over more than a decade of war, this 9/11 Generation has answered our country’s call, and three months from now, our combat mission in Afghanistan will come to an end. Today, we honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice these 13 years, more than 6,800 American patriots. And we give thanks to those who serve in harm’s way to keep our country safe and meet the threats of our time.I guess an American bomber killing children in a hospital yesterday was not part of any combat mission, seeing as how Obama announced that the war would be over by the end of 2014.
When a mass shooting occurs in America, Obama calls it carnage. When a mass shooting or bombing at the hands of Americans occurs elsewhere in the world, Obama calls it "an incident." Or, if the circumstances are especially egregious, as the attack on Doctors Without Borders surely was, he magnanimously upgrades it to a Tragedy.
If Barack Obama worked as strenuously to arm-twist and bribe and threaten members of Congress over gun control as he arm-twisted, bribed and threatened them into giving him fast-track authority to negotiate the corporate coups known as free trade deals, then the domestic weapons reform he purports to crave might have a smidgen of a chance.
The truth is that Obama didn't make a peep about gun control until after the Sandy Hook shootings. And even those noises were tepid and belated. Instead of immediately sending a bill to Congress, he named a blue ribbon panel to leisurely discuss and debate gun violence. By the time lawmakers got around to voting on an actual bill, the NRA had attacked with its own threats and bribes, and the national grief and shock and outrage had been safely diluted.
The time to act is in the immediate aftermath of an atrocity.
But on the December 2012 day of the Sandy Hook shootings that killed 27 people, mostly children, Press Secretary Jay Carney stopped the impetus right in its tracks. "This is not the day," he sanctimoniously told the nation, "to discuss gun laws."
And it's never a good day for them to discuss stopping their wars. International carnage is the only thing still inflating their puffed-up economy. Domestic carnage by way of more than 200 mass shootings this year alone is only a symptom of the larger American disease.
The real epidemic is suicide. One hundred Americans kill themselves every single day. But universal mental health care is not in our future, because the wealthy don't want to pay the taxes necessary to fund such preventive programs.
Economist John Komlos writes:
This must be the moment to come to our senses and set entirely new priorities for our society in vigorously confronting the mass murder epidemic head on. We will never be able to lead decent lives unless we are capable of reigning in the terror at home, because we will continue to live with constant anxiety.
Instead of vacuous slogans of growing the economy and ineffective lamentations about the vicious murders, which will do absolutely nothing to lower the murder rate, we should set ourselves the explicit goal of reducing mass murders in the same way President John F. Kennedy declared the goal of reaching the moon within a decade. Ask the parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary School disaster if they’d agree with such a national mobilization at any price. We cannot do that on borrowed money. The only way to accomplish such a goal is by paying for it through additional taxes and a reduction in the conspicuous consumption of the super-rich. There is no getting around that.Wealth inequality and the replacement of democracy with an oligarchy is hazardous to our health. The super-rich are a clear and present danger to all of us.
The lives of American citizens, Afghan citizens, all citizens, depend upon stopping the pathological rich. Eighty multi-billionaires now own half the wealth of the entire planet.
We can't afford them. It's time for a global wealth tax. It's the only way to cure them and their political operatives of their violent addiction to money and power and death.