America decided the death of children was bearable before America became America
The message he sent was the dead bodies
Like a lot of us I went to bed on Friday night or Saturday night I don’t even remember which night it was anymore but you know the night I mean it was the night after the terrorist in El Paso went to go ahead and make the president happy by killing hispanic people and I went to bed and I thought Jesus Christ what the fuck and things of that nature like you did I’m sure and like we always do and then the next morning I woke up and Michelle turned to me and said there was another one and I thought the same shit all over again and then I went about the rest of my day thinking about it constantly but also thinking like a lot of us always do that at least mercifully it was not as of yet time for my family or friends to be killed like that and while it may well be at some point in the near future it was not here yet and I was thankful for that.
I also thought this which is depressing but also strikes me as true.
Twitter is a terrible place during a mass shooting not just because of the disinformation and the misinformation and the worst people alive doing their best to wrestle the narrative back to whatever lies they need to believe themselves and want the rest of us to believe but also because there is a reliable pattern to the things we say and everyone dusts off their material from the last one and we say the same shit over and over and over and over and over and then we move on but a weird thing happened the other day which is that I saw someone on Twitter saying things about gun violence that interested me.
He was saying things about gun violence that I didn’t normally think myself and that is rare! The guy was a reporter named Patrick Blanchfield who wrote this fascinating and informative article last year for Splinter called The Market Can't Solve a Massacre where he said shit like this:
The emotional and political landscape of American gun violence and school shootings specifically reads like an atlas of neoliberalism. To be sure, our singular problem with gun murder—of which mass shootings are only a fractional percentile, one with no real analogue anywhere in any other nation in the world, neoliberal or otherwise—has deep roots in America’s unique historyof ethnic cleansing, racial oppression, globalized militarism, entrenched inequality, and violent ideologies of masculinity; these forces shape how gun violence plays out in and determines which Americans must bear its traumas most. But how our society has chosen to frame and respond to the problem of mass shootings, and school shootings specifically, over the course of the past two decades illustrates neoliberalism’s corrosiveness.
And then a lot of other shit that you should read.
Blanchfield has a book coming out from Verso called Gunpower which they describe like so:
For those tired of the predictable, and predictably exhausting, cycles of horror, outrage, and resignation that have defined American debates over guns, Gunpower offers a critical orientation and vital toolkit not just for metabolizing the latest gun tragedies, but for navigating a new landscape of protest, organizing, and political possibility.
I talked to Blanchfield about the ideas in his book and about his thoughts on the latest shootings and about how systemic and embedded into the very fabric of American culture gun violence of all different kinds is and you can read it below. Before that or after you might also want to read my piece in the Washington Post from yesterday which goes a little something like this:
Having essentially blamed the victims for their own murders, the president was happily and enthusiastically acceding to what authorities think are the alleged killer’s specific demands.
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” says an anti-immigrant online manifesto that authorities think the accused gunman posted. It echoes the “invasion” rhetoric commonly employed by the president at his rallies and on Twitter. In fact, much of the language overlaps with that of the president and his supporters, including repeated entreaties to “send them back.”
The idea here is that some sort of bipartisan immigration reform would stop the epidemic of white-supremacist violence in the United States. But of course that makes sense only if you believe that racist killers have a legitimate complaint — that we shouldn’t have Latino immigrants, and that, therefore, they do bear some of the blame. (Never mind that people of Hispanic descent existed in El Paso long before that region was part of the United States.) This was the idea, too, behind Trump’s common warning, reiterated last month, that if migrants didn’t like the detention centers along the border, they could simply not come.
Ok here’s me and Blanchfield below. As a heads up I’m only going to include some of it then the rest you’ll have to buy a subscription to read the rest here so sorry about that.
Also just so you know I got a fucking steroid pain shot into my hand and wrist yesterday and I woke up basically crying this morning in agony because it’s fucking me up somehow so transcribing this shit was not easy today and if there are typos and shit please forgive me. Also I have to rush because I’m going to NYC shortly for some high powered business deals. OK bye bye.
I apologize I haven’t read Gunpower yet…
Well it’s not out yet don’t worry about it.
Ah I definitely knew that was just checking if you did. But tell us essentially what it’s about?
The idea is to think of a new vocabulary for thinking about gun violence and for debates about gun violence and gun control. If you look at the landscape now you notice two things: A lot of partisan polarization, these very easy black and white oppositions, gun rights versus gun control, Democrats versus Republicans. These are actually, and this a major feature of the book, very recent. The term gun control doesn’t show up with its contemporary meaning until the late 1960s. You also see all these oppositions between categories of violence. We talk about homicide, but we talk about that separately from suicide. We talk about “gang violence” separately from police murder. We talk about mass shootings separately from domestic violence. Empirically speaking, all of those things are connected. Part of what I’m trying to do in the book is be like let’s think about a vocabulary for viewing all those things for working together as part of a system. And that’s a system I call Gunpower.
I try to understand how all these things interrelate. For example, most mass shootings are also domestic violence. At Sandy Hook Adam Lanza killed his mother and then goes to shoot up the school, or this thing in Ohio some fucker is killing his sister. And depending on how you count mass shootings – a certain amount of bodies at a given time – the overwhelming majority of mass shootings in America actually happen inside homes. It’s men killing themselves, their wives, children etc.
What I’m trying to argue in the book is that the existence of the phenomenon of mass shootings as a “separate category” is a function of our investment in preserving the prerogative of men to commit violence in those private spaces. What the Gunpower vocabulary ideally is trying to do is to make us no longer think in simplistic binary terms: here’s vigilante violence, here’s police violence, here’s private violence, here’s public violence. The cash money takeaway here is it explains why our response to violence is almost always to double down on other kinds of violence. That’s why we always want more police to solve a problem, that’s why we’re turning to national security now. One of the things that’s going on here, a lot of what we talk about when we talk about gun control or violence is our way of talking around or tinkering with a fundamental system, which is Gunpower, which is how America is run.
I have a poorly articulated thought that always comes up around mass shootings which is if a guy goes and kills seven people randomly we freak out about that, but somebody is probably shooting three or four people in their home today as we speak and we’re never going to know about it?
That’s absolutely right. You have to ask why. You can also express Gunpower as a system of beliefs, beliefs people don’t even know they have. One of those is that there is always going to be a place where gun violence is “ok,” whether that’s on the frontier, the ghetto, or in homes. There’s always a place where gun violence is seen as regrettable but inevitable, and this is the perverse thing, but also that it may be good. Like when you see these Democrats say Well I carried a gun in Iraq and that’s where “the weapons belong” in their streets not ours.
Mass shootings represent breaks of that logic of containment. Violence that is ostensibly ok when it happens in specific spaces to disposable people suddenly becomes a national crisis when it is mirrored by violence that happens to people who “valuable.”
It’s historically born out that our response to high profile episodes of violence in “valuable” spaces to people who are “valuable” is almost always to double down on mechanisms of policing and military control that inflict even more gun violence in those others spaces on those disposable people.
Like the Rep from Tennessee who just tweeted something like “want to shoot a rifle? go to Iraq.” It reminded me a couple of years ago Buttigieg had something he tweeted like I didn’t carry an assault rifle in a foreign country so I could see them used at home. He was saying, in other words, I carried an assault rifle in a country where you can reasonably assume they belong. That brings up a question I have. Whenever these things happen some asshole in your mentions says Well what about Chicago? Obviously that’s a deflection and supposed to be taking the heat off the problem of gun violence at large, but what about Chicago? What’s a reasonable response?
Those people, even if you talk about Chicago all the time, they never care, it’s always disingenuous. But this is one of those points where I want us to think about our investment in different categories of violence. Yeah, the situation in Chicago is terrible, but where are most of those guns coming from? Other spaces around Chicago, Ohio, Michigan, wherever, with comparatively low level of gun control. They’re getting funneled into the city. If you consider the political dimensions of this, those are states that affirmed the rights of men, exemplarily white men, that they have a right to be armed. And because of their rights to be armed, those guns will flow. That’s one of the things I can’t hammer home enough: guns are always going to flow. A lot of these conservative assholes will say stuff that’s true for the wrong reasons. They’ll say bad guys will always get their hands on guns. That is on some level true, but it’s true because we’re constantly arming the good guys. The nature of guns is that they change hands. Also you’re a good guy right up to the point that you pull out a gun and shoot your wife and you become a bad guy. And it’s because there are bad guys out there that you had to have a gun in the first place.
And this is another thing: I’m drawing on the work of the psychologist Jonathan Metzl to argue this... Chicago is the reason a lot of white men buy guns that they then use to kill themselves. Basically white men are so invested in controlling the territorial space of their home and the suburbs from “invasion” by “black thugs” or whatever, that they are willing to do that even and especially when it means killing themselves. That’s one of the things that is so bleak. Everyone is disposable. Everyone. I use the language of the Charmed Circle, a feminist thing. The idea is the white man with the gun is more of a position than a real person. People get to have that position. But the system is ultimately indifferent to whether or not they eat their own gun or kill their family. And this gets at the hidden racial calculus of this. There is a way in which whiteness is determined by who shoots who.
Like George Zimmerman for example?