Most of the world doesn’t understand American gun culture. So trying to explain it to an international audience in five minutes is not easy.
Why are senseless acts of gun violence (including the mass shootings analyzed HERE by James Petras) on the increase? The short answer is that the lives of ordinary Americans increasingly lack two things: honest ways to make a decent living; and meaning. Of the two, I think the latter is more important. As Nietzche said, whoever has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. The converse is that whoever doesn’t have a why to live for may just slowly wither up and die…or, on the other hand, they may do something really stupid. As I see it, our whole culture is withering, getting stupider and uglier, as the myths that formerly gave us meaning slowly decay.
So I don’t think gun control is the answer. It is not a why. And it won’t bring back decent working class jobs.
I have discussed this topic with fellow VT columnist Ian Greenhalgh on my radio show. Ian thinks American gun lovers are nuts. He thinks we need some serious gun control, big time. The problem, I tell him, is that if the cops and soldiers have guns and ordinary folks don’t, whatever we gain in safety will be more than made up for by the escalation of Orwellian tyranny that is increasingly robbing life in America of meaning.
Our nation was founded on a myth of freedom—a dream that nobody who’s awake believes much any more; and the loss of that sacred myth, and meaning in general, will drive people to suicide if not homicide. The libertarian gun culture of resistance to tyranny consists of people clinging tenaciously, albeit often stupidly, to the myth of American liberty.
The only way to solve the problem would be to reverse the trend toward loss of faith and meaning. We would have to revitalize old myths or invent new ones. (And of course make sure ordinary folks have opportunities to make a decent living.)
I don’t see it happening any time soon. Sadly, I suspect the epidemic of gun violence will continue in 2018.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.
He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS, and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.
Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin; where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.