I find the events of this day tragic. I hope you do, too. The attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords is one more reminder that the American Right (to borrow from Marty Kaplan’s piece) does not see “lock-and-load” as metaphorical at all. In fact, a recent study indicates significant differences between the brains of conservatives and progressives, especially on the level of understanding metaphor. Rightists tend to be literalists, progressives more metaphorically minded.
The problem is that in this case, the literalists are armed to the teeth and they mean to use their armories.
It’s time to say certain unsayable things:
1. America in early 2011 is perilously close to all-out insurrection. It’s been caused and pushed to this degree by a number of individuals famous and less so, whose common cause is the destruction of any hope America will ever return to the pursuit of its true goals, the goals of its better self;
2. As much as we’d all like to fantasize our own little Gitmos in which these enemies of liberty should truly reside, we know better. The Koch brothers will get away, shielded by immoral, inhuman wealth; so will their political partners, many of whom still work in Congress for the benefit of their one true constituency, the one-percenters;
3. The TP “masters” (Armey, Palin, Beck, et al) are of course not masters at all. They’ve held at best only tangential control over the whole enterprise from day one because the rank-and-file are, shall we say, made up of “low-information” individuals—or, let’s be precise here: intellectually torpid human lemmings just waiting for Big Daddy to tell them what to do—up to a point. After that, just remember they’re armed like John MacClaine and they don’t really give a shit who they kill, at least judging from the day’s events;
4. Whether today’s shooter is or is not all-the-way-crazy or specifically TP-crazy, the fact is that the Giffords shooting is by no means the last. THIS IS WHAT THE RIGHT MEANS WHEN THEY REFER TO “SECOND-AMENDMENT SOLUTIONS.” And, again, they don’t mean it as metaphor because many of them can’t understand metaphor (No wonder I often felt that as an English teacher in Ohio I was, well, banging my head against a wall—sometimes literally);
5. And we all know who’s the #1 target of these crazy motherfuckers: the President. If anyone had ever even whispered such things about Dubya (of unhappy memory), said person would be at Gitmo today alongside KSM wondering what the fuck happened. As for Obama, we all know why these people feel this way—racism, fear, frustration and the primary need to scapegoat—and, unjustifiable as it is, we know they do feel this way. The recession was Dubya’s fault. All those jobs lost and never coming back? Dubya. All the capital loss on Main Street? Dubya. The rise of China as a world power? Guess who—and on, and on.
Have we passed the point of no return? I think we have, yes. The Giffords shooting is a metaphor of the current American moment, a snapshot. These people actually believe “some people oughta be killed.” This is not America; it’s an aberration.