April 24, 2007

Completely Wrapped Up With The Gun


Fancy the day The BAG and The Economist are in full concurrence.

Having been in Spain for eight months now, with two or three more to go, the main trepidation I have about coming home is portrayed above.  In an ex-pat mind, what I’ve come to appreciate about America, more than anything, is how preoccupied it is with violence, and, even more so, with fear.

What is interesting to me about this cover is how it simultaneously hits America’s problem with guns and its hysteria over the threat of violence.  (On the newsstand over here, it’s the latter meaning that jumps out at you, but can you feel both from home?)

As the Democratic party shifts to the middle/middle-right to arrest the far-right radical freaks that have taken over the country, the price, it seems, is that liberals must play along, waiting (for the party) to acquire more leverage before pushing “all out” on issues now being sacrificed — such as gun control.

I’m proud of those of you who raised your voices against fire arms in the discussion threads this past week.  I understand we have our own hornets’ nest here, even in the liberal side of the liberal blogosphere?  Or maybe — my bad — you couldn’t tell.  (What was it one reader called gun control, the “third rail” of Democratic politics?)

If, beyond the media coverage, I’ve been mostly reticent about Virginia Tech, the massacre brings out two issues I feel strongly about (one, which never gained traction when it could and should have, and another, which seems hopelessly interwoven into the American fabric).  One is gun control.  I’m against all civilians owning guns … unless you’re a licensed hunter, sober, outside the city limits, without a criminal or mental health record, with a hunting rifle, with a safety lock.  The other is the neurotic package of fear mongering, glorification of violence and preoccupation with fear.

What The Economist offers is not just a pointed image, but a pointed phrase.  “America’s tragedy” refers not just to an incident, or a specific political issue but a national frame of mind.

(image: The Economist . April 21,  2007. Cover. economist.com)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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