Friday, December 4, 2015

Miss Manners' Guide to Massacre Debate Etiquette

Mrs. Alan Greenspan (Andrea Mitchell) is all upset that Donald Trump is using the San Bernardino shooting to boost his candidacy. "Incredibly, his response is poll-driven," she groused to MTP Daily host Chuck Todd on MSNBC last night. "He said, twice, that 'every time there's a tragedy, my poll numbers go up!'"

Of course, she couldn't leave it at that, because whenever Beltway insiders get together for a chat, etiquette dictates that for every right-wing idiot, there has to be a left-wing counter-idiot.Therefore Mitchell went on to complain, "It's just that there's a creepiness going on on both sides, the fact that there was, you know, prayer shaming going on and the bloggers!"

Chuck choked out something like "prayer, for crying out loud, now they're attacking prayer of all things?" National Journal pundit Ron Fournier added that the partisan debate over the San Bernardino massacre has become as radicalized as the shooters themselves. The debate is irresponsible, he said, because both sides are attacking each other while cravenly ignoring the real threat(s). If they were serious adults, they would be bipartisanly selling the fear and the terror that every concerned citizen should be experiencing.
Fournier: He (President Obama) knows where this is headed and he knows his party is headed in the wrong direction ... In a sane political environment, if you have one party doing prayer shaming and another party demonizing and profiling Muslims, they'd be laughed out of politics. They would be marginalized. We wouldn't write about them [crosstalk] We have two very dysfunctional parties and a media now that is not even [crosstalk]
Mitchell: This is not a serious political debate.
Todd: No.
Fournier: It's dangerous.

Both sides do it! There is a serious Permawar going on here, yet Trump is demonizing Muslims for his own gain, and libruls are demonizing prayer for theirs. Oh, the humanity. Oh, the false equivalence.

What Andrea Mitchell ludicrously calls "prayer shaming" is nothing more than calling out politicians who Tweet their maudlin "thoughts and prayers" after every mass shooting, rather than Tweet out their demands for immediate gun control legislation. This has nothing to do with shaming religious people who pray. This has everything to do with exposing hypocrisy.  

Fournier is right that the "debate" has become radicalized. The chattering class is radically stupid and irresponsible for framing everything around partisanship, politics, and the interests of the ruling class in keeping us all afraid, very afraid. While complaining about partisanship trumping (sorry) terror, they're continuously wallowing in partisanship themselves. Heaven forbid that they examine their own alleged consciences for some insight in how they themselves are muddying the "debate" by churning up militaristic fever even as they champion horse-race politics.

The term "prayer shaming" has actually been around for awhile.  The Atlantic ran a piece by Emma Green, suspiciously published immediately after the California shooting. It was as though they had it on file and ready to go. This is obviously what gave Andrea Mitchell her convenient talking points: 
There’s a clear claim being made here, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers. These two reactions, policy-making and praying, are portrayed as mutually exclusive, coming from totally contrasting worldviews. Elsewhere on Twitter, full-on prayer shaming set in: Anger about the shooting was turned not toward the perpetrator or perpetrators, whose identities are still unknown, but at those who offered their prayers.
There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa. That people who care about gun control can’t be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence. At one time in American history, liberals and conservatives shared a language of God, but that’s clearly no longer the case; any invocation of faith is taken as implicit advocacy of right-wing political beliefs.
The most powerful evidence against this backlash toward prayer comes not from the Twitterverse, but from San Bernardino. “Pray for us,” a woman texted her father from inside the Inland Regional Center, while she and her colleagues hid from the gunfire. Outside the building, evacuated workers bowed their heads and held hands. They prayed.
This is missing the point, I think. Nobody is "prayer-shaming" or making fun of religion in these Tweets. As a matter of fact, the prayer-shamer shamers and PC police should also probably alert us to the fact that actual thought-shaming is  going on here, too, since the more secular Thoughts invariably precede Prayers in these hypocritical Tweets. We should know that no alleged prayer can ever sail through the air without first attaching to itself the propaganda rocket booster known as magical thinking.

Actually, there is not much thought or insight of any kind in evidence within the mainstream media. There are, though, lots of buzzwords passing as mentation in an echo chamber, an embarrassment of bromides passing as political courage and will.

I nominate the term "platitude-shaming" to replace prayer-shaming. Or is that too radical?


Meredith NYC said...

how did the wife of ayn rand devotee greenspan land her own msnbc show, even if it is afternoon, not evening? I know, she's an experienced journalist. Is she also a rand fan?

annenigma said...

God bless America! Or maybe not. Some people's faiths could be in for a test. As a matter of fact, I wonder if this couple waited for the Christmas Party to deliver their surprise gifts of gunfire to their religious co-workers. Secret Santa? Jehovah Witnesses are probably thankful right now that they don't party (nor fight in wars).

It's interesting that Americans who claim to be so religious are also the most fearful. But look at the French who lost more people and in multiple locations - they stayed calm and carried on. I didn't see any hysteria or great drama, although I'm sure they're still suffering mightily.

Americans now seem to be fretting that the terrorists are going to strike them in their beds while they sleep. Unfortunately, it looks like the terrorists are going to have an easy job psychologically terrorizing our our population of shaky religionists and shaky gun owners.

I worry about domestic gun owners acting as vigilantes more than I do terrorists. I happen to know that many, if not most, so called hunters have arsenals that make this couple's firepower look pitifully small. Maybe that's because most gun owners know the huge challenge/adversary they're actually preparing for - the government. I'm not exaggerating nor condoning it. I'm just telling it as I've seen it or heard it over the years (just ask Zee) and it's not slowing down. By the way, if you want to know where high tech assault rifles are being made, and where community college training courses in gunsmithing funded by the NRA is happening, come to the Flathead Valley of Montana. It's the proud local specialty.

I wish gun owners were assumed to be citizen soldiers as well as hunters and considered to be part of a militia - the NRA Militia. They would then have to be registered so they could be legitimately armed and 'well-regulated' per the Second Amendment. Oh wait. That might just give them the recognition, encouragement, and incentive to recruit, get more organized, form regiments, maybe even then take on the government for local control... Sounds eerily familiar. Never mind!

annenigma said...

If that wasn't a Christmas party, forgive me. I can't keep up with the changing info regarding this case.

So what happened to the 3rd shooter anyway? Was there one? First it was said he got away, then they had him in custody, then nothing more. Was he an FBI undercover sting-er who made a run for it when it blew up in his face? And why were they so sure it wasn't terrorism initially, such that they didn't involve Homeland Security/Counterterrorism, at least not until the whole world already knew it was. Why didn't they assume it was until otherwise proven so they would be in a position to stop a possible coordinated, related attack? Unless they knew there wouldn't be one.

And why didn't they have the apartment taped off so the media wouldn't go rummaging through and contaminating the evidence? Did they think they had it all on the first go around? What a bunch of bumbling idiots. It's not just the Secret Service that needs a shakeup.

voice-in-wilderness said...

The usual unexamined holes in religious thinking are at work here. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then aren't such shootings part of some plan God has, in which case, how does prayer matter? Maybe God is not benevolent and loving, but an Entity who gets pleasure from human suffering?

Or is God carrying out a competition among the devout, to see who can offer the best prayers and therefore be rewarded for them?

Or is there no Invisible Man in the Sky, just ourselves wreaking havoc on each other?

Needless to say, the 7x24 pundits will not look at it this way!

Pearl said...

I have been thinking about the movie industry through the years and the presence of guns ending up in the hero's hands. All those great Westerns when some of our greatest actors and actresses held sway, rescuing captives, blowing people up to rid the area of evil in time for the ending. I think the worship of guns was enhanced by this popular form of entertainment and I would see kids in my neighborhood acting out those scenarios all considered acceptable.
The only criticism in my family about children having guns was because of the hatred of war we grew up with as well as the danger of getting hurt. A young cousin of mine was partially blinded by a friend when they were carrying rifles during a walk and relatives of the boy who was wounded were furious with the parents involved allowing them to own rifles. But we were rare in the community.

I am sure many of us have witnessed the influence of Hollywood regarding this issue especially when favorite actors became heroes and their use of firearms pay off.
High Noon with Gary Cooper, who chose to stand his ground in a shoot out with a gunman rather than avoid such a confrontation made us feel proud of his decision he could only accomplish with a firearm. Besides, Gary or John Wayne could usually do no wrong. In those days, the use of guns was often necessary but I fear our current obsession has much accelerated since those early days when too many people feeling they are heroes now keep guns in the house to protect their families and property. I don't remember any scenes in those Westerns when someone accidentally kills a friend or family member entering the house during an unexpected visit which happens too often nowadays in reality.

annenigma said...

Here's a comment I sent to Gail Collins column which ended up around #200 so won't be read by many. I originally included a comment about Hollywood's role in making money off promoting war and the killing culture, but I had to take it out to stay within the character limit.

A war by any other name would smell as bad.

How is killing to ensure and protect war profiteering through the vast and mighty Military-Industrial Complex killing machine any different than ensuring and protecting profits for the weapons industry at home? The NRA is the domestic lobbying group for the gun industry as their corporate Big Brother, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is for the global war machine that Eisenhower warned us about.

Thanks to the profitability of weapons sales for 'defenders' (offenders), the whole world is flooded with arms. Not only that, but own government officially recognized our own country, now called Homeland, as a 'battlefield' per Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA of 2012 so that they could suspend civil liberties and generously equip cops, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, etc with combat gear and weaponry. No money for schools or roads though.

The President signed that legislation in the dark of night late on a New Years Eve. It gives Presidents the authority to use the military for (martial) law enforcement on our streets and allows indefinite detention of citizens without charges, trial, or even legal representation. The Catch-22 is that it can't be challenged Constitutionally unless you can prove you were killed or disappeared. Some people are bothered by that and take up arms.

The crime of killing for a 'living' is going to be the death of U.$., one way or another.

Karen Garcia said...

Great comments. In our politically correct narrow debate, there have not many mentions of entertainment violence (too many $$$) nor the duplicity of the "liberal" gun control crowd, who see no problem selling lethal weapons abroad when the Pentagon and CIA not just blindly air-dropping them in hopes that the "right" militants will find them and use them. Obama can call for a gunless society at home all he wants, but still he drones people to death "over there" and brokers billions in arms sales to some pretty brutal dictators. Ditto for Hillary. Her calls for gun legislation are even more hypocritical than Barack's. Double-ditto for CIA moll Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Hawk-CA). Who needs batshit insane Republicans with Dems like those?

I wonder if the most recent attack is, at least in part, blowback. Did the female shooter have relatives killed by drones? Did she and hubby practice in Saudi Arabia with CIA-furnished weaponry? Was she another disgruntled CIA asset? Absolutely nothing would surprise me at this point.

annenigma said...

I know the debate is supposed to be all about guns but I can't separate guns from wars, especially when this was a terrorist attack, which means they will use whatever means necessary to terrorize. Osama bin Laden years ago bragged that all they had to do was hint of doing something, like hanging out a white sheet with black lettering, or some such thing, and he was sure that the over-reaction would be more costly and effective than actually doing/risking anything.

Speaking of over-reaction, last night I ran into my neighbor on the walking trail. After telling me about the 3 deer he recently 'harvested' (don't you just love the euphemisms for killing these days?), he flew into a rage about Obama being incompetent and the resultant increased danger from ISIS. According to him, there's more reason than ever for people to have guns due to Obama's failing to cripple ISIS. He then informed me that there were 2 million Muslims in this country and 1/3 were jihadi's (or some such nonsense), therefore that's at least how many terrorists we had here. He then showed me his concealed handgun in a holster under his coat. He said he won't go in public without it. Talk about overreaction.

In regard to Obama's policies and ISIS though, there really is much to wonder about. Even some NYT commenters have questioned why, despite all the talk about defeating ISIS, the U.S. never bombed the daily parade of ISIS' slow moving, heavy oil trucks heading to Turkey. It was only after Paris and the involvement of the French that those trucks started being bombed. That oil was allowed to be sold in Turkey, enriching ISIS. Did we let that happen because Turkey is a NATO member which allows us to use their air space and keep a big military installation there?

Also, despite all the talk of defeating ISIS, the U.S. never went to the Security Council to try to freeze financial assets. It was only after the Paris attacks that the French coalition initiated that. Why didn't the U.S.? Was it because it would involve Saudi wealth and the Saudi's are our 'ally' too, allowing us access to their air space, military bases, etc.

What a tangled web. No wonder people think Obama is incompetent. These alliances of convenience to enable us to have military installations everywhere so we can wage war anywhere only makes things worse. We 'sell' billions in weaponry to our phony allies, paid directly to defense contractors by taxpayers to be used as 'foreign aid', then those weapons are turned around and used to aid our enemies. It's insanity.

Today everyone is making a big deal about the NYT having their first anti-gun editorial on the front page, yet the NYT has never seen a mass murder they didn't support wholeheartedly - as long as it happened abroad under it's various more acceptable names: war, military operation, kinetic action. It's all killing to me, but then I've never been one for using politically correct words and proper debate etiquette.

Karen Garcia said...


Yeah, I'll be impressed when the Times runs an editorial calling for disarmament, an end to the wars, the Dept of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA, and cutting the "defense" budget by at least 90%. That they'd run this editorial only after Muslim people did a mass shooting speaks volumes. They could have gone all front page bombastic after Sandy Hook, but chose not to.

Their editorial urging us not to demonize Muslims is laughable, too. A 1996 Times editorial blared, "The Red Menace is Gone, But Here's Islam." They are part of the problem.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Pearl reminds us how generation after generation Hollywood glorifies the fist, the gun and the American way of war. No doubt about it; we are conditioned from infancy. One must first accept that life is a cage fight. Therefore, whether as an individual or a nation, best to be well-muscled, brutal and quick. Once that preparatory groundwork is hardwired in brains young and old, other institutions can build upon it. In no time, virtues like bravery and devotion to duty are owned by the Pentagon. The schools do their part in fortifying the myth that violence works best at problem solving.

A relatively new but established subject called Peace Studies, based on the history of nonviolence in action, can plant a seed of doubt about the superiority of armed force and the supposed weakness of nonviolence. Something like Howard Zinn directing a Bronx cheer to Tinseltown. After considerable effort a few practitioners, like Coleman McCarthy, have had success in introducing Peace Studies on elementary, secondary and post-graduate levels.

“I’ve been accused of teaching a one-sided course, that I don’t expose students to the other side,” he wrote in The Nation, “except that my course is the other side—the one that students aren’t getting in conventional history or political science courses that present violent militaristic solutions as rational and necessary.
“I recall speaking at a New England prep school and being told by the headmaster that he takes peace education seriously: Once a year, Peace Day is observed. I wondered: Is there an annual Algebra Day? A yearly Physics Day?...Yes, children, let’s give peace a chance—but not a place in the curriculum,” writes McCarthy.

Yes, indeed, violence is easy and it does work––provided one is content with endless escalation, at least until we spend all our muscle, all our money and all our blood. Nonviolence, on the other hand, is a subject hard to master and harder to practice; and, to the detriment of arms manufacturers, it moves in the opposite direction of escalation.

Pearl said...

These Students Are Dumping Their Dorms for A Retirement Home

Pearl said...

The Sanders Corporate Tax Reform Plan -

Meredith NYC said...

The British House of Commons had a fascinating debate on Syria air strikes that shows how another democracy works out its differences and controversies. Cspan is repeating it again tonight I think. Or it’s on cspan video.

This is parliamentary style where each side sits opposite the other and question and confront each other. The debate is democracy in action, noisy, confrontational, yet civilized, and according to rules, with plenty of thought not just B.S. You can see both sides analyzing all factors and struggling with the dilemmas. Much of the talk is actually intelligent.

The Speaker of the House intervenes sometimes to ask people to be quiet so MPs can be heard. When they agree they say hear hear!

Seems the members get interrupted by others wanting to comment or question and they answer either-- no I will not give way, let me make some progress here, or they do give way for a question then resume. Fascinating.

Also all the MPs wanting to make a speech or ask the PM a question have to repeatedly get up from their seats when it’s time for a new speaker, so they can get called on. Thus they get a lot of exercise during long debates. It must be tiring. It's like repeated chair squats like exercise trainers have people do. Too many cause muscle soreness!

In fact the whole session is a workout –mentally and physically.
Well worth watching the video on cspan.

annenigma said...

I think we're getting the usual bullshit image of ISIS from our government/media as being just a bunch of cutthroat thugs and barbarians. In fact, they are well-organized bureaucrats. Gee I wonder which government they used to be part of!

Read this from The Guardian to get a clearer view of ISIS based on documents gleaned from the internet and other sources by a young internet researcher, It's an eye opener. Unlike true barbarians, ISIS has a lot of accumulated knowledge and skills from their previous professional careers in Iraq, and undoubtedly many powerful and high level connections that we ignore at our peril.

'The Isis Papers: Behind 'Death Cult' Image Lies a Methodical Bureaucracy'