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America's Twisted Notion of Freedom

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Along the same lines, the statement concerning the Colorado theater massacre issued by Luke O'Dell, a spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association, reflected the misconception that the answer to gun violence is more guns:

"Potentially, if there had been a law-abiding citizen who had been able to carry [a gun] in the theater [in Colorado], it's possible that the death toll would have been less." One might more plausibly argue that if the shooter had not been able to procure a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns "to carry" into the theater, the death toll would have been zero.

Lobby Power

It seems that it does not matter how many times these massacres take place; nothing is likely to change. Here is what an article, entitled "Still Little Interest In U.S. Gun Control" in the Philadelphia Inquirer of July 22, had to say: "Despite periodic mass shootings ... the political calculus seems locked down. Most Republicans adamantly oppose tighter gun controls, and most Democrats would prefer to focus on other issues."

Why so? The reason has to do with a very flawed aspect of our political system. Ours is a system that allows a relatively small number of citizens (in this case gun zealots) to form a special interest, or lobby group, that raises and distributes great amounts of money nationwide and, in some parts of the country, exercises strong voting influence.

These lobbies can hold crazy ideas that demonstrably harm society and make us look like an insane nation to the rest of the world, but that doesn't matter either. The politicians will positively respond anyway to get money and electoral support. In this sense, we live in a land devoid of "national interest." There is only the interest of lobby groups and the politicians controlled by them.

Nor is this situation unique to the problem of the nation's gun laws and the power of the NRA. If we look at foreign policy, we see that similar lobbies skew policy with disastrous results. The Zionist lobby has the entire U.S. government head over heels in support of the basically racist state of Israel. And, this position does demonstrable harm to our standing throughout the Middle East and Muslim world.

It's crazy, but it has been going on for at least 65 years. The Cuban lobby of anti-Castro fanatics has intimidated Washington to blockade, sanction and otherwise isolate Cuba even though the rest of the world is content to trade and have normal relations with the island nation. Our politicians say they take this stand because the Cuban government is a communist dictatorship. So what? Do we have normal relations with China? Do we trade with Vietnam?

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These politicians are obviously being less than truthful. They take the stand because they are bought and bullied by a bunch of well-organized, well-funded fanatics. The whole thing is crazy and has been going on since 1960.

There is simply something wrong with our political system. Too few people can command too much power in the name of relatively small minority groups. We need campaign finance reform and much more transparency when it comes to the operations of special interests.

We need shorter electoral periods and limits on how much it can cost to run for any office. We need honest and open regional and national debates on both domestic and foreign policies that affect large numbers of our citizens (whether those citizens know it or not).

And, last but not least, we need a rational rethinking of what the word "freedom" means.

Does "freedom" mean that just about anyone is free to carry weapons that potentially put the rest of us in danger? Free to carry weapons that are most often going to be used to shoot off the carrier's foot, or shoot someone he or she imagines is acting abnormally, or shoot a family member in a heated argument, or, in a fit of depression, to blow one's own brains out? Does it mean that people are free to carry weapons that they may decide to use in an episode of mass murder?

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Does "freedom" mean that if you have a lot of money you can use it to corrupt the nation's politicians so that they distort the positions and policies of government to such a degree that they cease to have any connection to common sense definitions of community or national interest?

Sadly, the answer is yes. That is actually what freedom has come to mean in the U.S. And these stupid definitions of "freedom" are slowly but surely undermining the body politic. There are no super heroes out there to save us: no Superman, no Batman, no Catwoman, and the like. There is just us.

And if we don't find a way to, in essence, work our way free of the pseudo "freedoms" that are ruining our political system, no one else will. Things will simply get worse.

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http://www.tothepointanalyses.com

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
Statehood
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.


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well written article. I am afraid that nothing wil... by Terry Hirneisen on Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 6:37:57 PM
All good points, but it ignores that the culture i... by Dar Gary on Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 7:45:15 PM