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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/4/17

The NRA's Latest Terrorist Attack on U.S. Soil

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Gun sales tend to go up after the big massacres. Gun owners stock up in anticipation of new restrictions that never come. People become new gun owners in response to dangers they now perceive in bolder relief than before. The Armed Madhouse (Greg Palast's description of the U.S.) that is 21st century America gets even more armed and nuttier than before.

I am aware that the formal definition of terrorism involves the use of violence to achieve a political objective -- a ruthless means to political ends(s). Does the actual shooter have to be a member of the terrorist organization -- in this case, by my analysis, the NRA -- and on board with its agenda? No, not when it comes to advancing the NRA's political goals. All that's required is that he kills a lot of people. The NRA surely knows that recruits are readily available, waiting to make their deadly mark with the high-kill weaponry that is so absurdly available in Gunfighter Nation.

It's all statistically foreordained, as the NRA is certainly aware. You cannot have untold thousands of demented psychopaths and millions of high-kill automatic weapons simultaneously circulating in a violence-worshipping, highly militarized, and brutal video-game society like the United States without grisly mass gun massacres occurring every few years or so. Truth be told, it's surprising that such spectacular mass shootings aren't more common. And, of course, the smaller mass shootings are now an almost daily occurrence, as The Guardian tells us.

The NRA doesn't have to actively recruit anyone. All it must do is make sure that the killers can get the weapons and ammo they need through the so-called invisible hand of the marketplace.

What is the agenda, the political objective? Selling guns is part of it, but the real program is deeper than just that immediate commercial intention. A bigger if related aim is to create a climate of fear and violence so pervasive that people are afraid to join together in movements and protests on behalf of democracy, social justice, peace, ecological sanity, and civil and human rights -- the common good.

The political goal is to promote an image of human nature and evil so vile and chilling that people give up on their species and on the aspiration to unite with their fellow workers and citizens to demand something better than a miserable world of low wages, savage socioeconomic and racial inequality, environmental ruin, abject plutocracy, rampant sexism, virulent racism, and endless war. The idea is to turn as many households as possible into atomized self-defense and survival units -- to create a nation of armed Robinson Crusoes, each stuck on their own little island.

It is all intimately related to the militantly capitalist world view that took hold in post-New Deal America more than four decades ago. This toxic, late- bourgeois weltanschauung is dedicated to starving the liberating and egalitarian "left hand of the state" (Pierre Bourdieu) -- the parts of government that provide safety, security, and inclusion for the poor and working class majority while helping distribute wealth and power downward to the people -- while strengthening the repressive and regressive "right hand of the state": the parts of government that concentrate wealth and power further upward while punishing the poor, oppressing and excluding minorities, waging permanent war, and repressing the majority non-affluent populace as a whole.

How darkly appropriate it is that Stephen Paddock -- a multi-millionaire poker aficionado and a former Lockheed Martin auditor -- set a new single-shooter body-count record in Las Vegas, the world's gambling capital. For all this right-handed madness is what the arch-capitalist and militantly imperial Casino Society has wrought. The NRA vision of a nation where every household is armed to the teeth with the latest tools of rapid fire mass-killing is perhaps the ultimate epitome of the neoliberal-capitalist vision of pure individualism and each against all. The logical outcome of this "free market" agenda -- advanced by the entire U.S. ruling class, from Goldman Sachs to the infamous Koch brothers -- is a vast militarized police state: Hobbesian chaos leading to authoritarian state power in the name of "law and order."

It isn't just about class, of course. The people who are most repressed, tortured, incarcerated, and criminally marked by this authoritarian and pre- if not already-fascist police state are very disproportionately Black, Latino, and Native American. The mass killers of our time almost never come from any of those racial groups but the mass shootings, typically carried out by crazy and vicious white males, become a pretext for the strengthening of a police state that is fundamentally committed to -- and largely rooted in -- the white-supremacist project of keeping Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans down in their socioeconomic and related geographic places. The NRA, it should never be forgotten, is all about guns for white people only. And even if the NRA likes to sell small-gun self-defense to its white female members, women, too, are expected to cower before the pseudo-phallic power of the great American rifle

The NRA knows what it's doing, trust me. The Las Vegas massacre is just the latest in the Gun Lobby's long line of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Expect more as Gunfighter Nation's changing racial demographics and gender relations combine with capitalist stagnation, globalization, and technical displacement to drive more and white U.S. males (most of whom lack anything remotely close to the lunatic Paddock's personal fortune) over the psychotic edge.

Did I mention that, if the NRA had gotten its way, Stephen Paddock would have been equipped with silencers and therefore been able to kill, who knows, maybe 200, not just 59, on the Las Vegas casino strip? Yes, I did, but it's worth repeating. When will the NRA experience one of these terrible incidents at one of its cocktail receptions or convention proceedings?

Meanwhile, predictably enough, the nation's proto-fascist "alt-right" noise machine (many of whose operatives are certainly NRA members) has gone to work claiming that Paddock was an "anti-Trump liberal," even an "Antifa member." Of course: the victims were part of red-state culture, white country music fans, and so the killer must have been some kind of vicious person of "the left." The hard right is in constant quest of a Reichstag Fire. So in its own way is the right-wing white nationalist Trump administration.

America is going down ugly, just like it came up. Watch your back.

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Paul Street (www.paulstreet.org and paulstreet99@yahoo.com) is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (2004), Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (2007), Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (more...)
 
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