While much of the world’s attention has been focused on the devastation and slaughter in Ukraine, one gun massacre after another continues in the United States.

Just yesterday a young eighteen years old gunman murdered at least 19 children and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. So far there have been 27 school shootings this year. Yesterday’s was the deadliest, since a gunman killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. There is little known about the motivation of yesterday’s killer, except that he wanted to kill. Before going to the school he shot his grandmother. He had purchased the guns right after his eighteenth birthday.

On Saturday, May 14, 2022, when another 18 years old gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. killing 10 people and injuring three more, we know he was motivated by white supremacy. Almost all of the Buffalo victims were Black. Prior to the shooting he had posted a manifesto, inspired by “the great replacement theory,” a racist conspiracy spreading in a number of Western countries.

The great replacement theory is the far-right belief that people from minority populations are replacing the existing white, largely Christian population. It inspired not only the Buffalo shooter but earlier mass killings, including the 2015 Charleston church shooting, the 2018 Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the 2019 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso and the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand.

Ironically many white Christian nationalists are strong supporters of “the great replacement.” There is absolutely nothing “Christian” about it. The historical Jesus – Yeshua – was not even white. He was a dark-skinned, broad-minded, and courageously prophetic man. He was hardly a racist, which was the main focus of his Good Samaritan account. And Yeshua clearly and painfully understood the importance of a separation of state and religion.

The term “the great replacement” was coined by a French nationalist writer, Renaud Camus (b. 1946), in his 2011 book titled Le Grand Remplacement. Camus argued that white Europeans are being “colonized” by non-white immigrants and face a threat of “extinction.” Former U.S. President Trump propelled the replacement theory into mainstream U.S. politics with his fear of white U.S. Americans being “replaced by minorities.” And most recently it has inspired Marine LePen and her party in France.

The extremist ideology that non-white immigration will ultimately destroy white values and western civilization has found favor with the top media figure on Fox News as well as quite a collection of politicians, who have convinced themselves that Democrats are operating an open-door immigration policy to “replace” Republican voters with people of color.

U.S. society is going through very difficult days. More than ever there is a great need for well informed people, for critical thinking, and for courageous speech and action.

President Joseph Biden warned about U.S. racism on Tuesday, May 17th, when he observed: “White supremacy is a poison … and it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.” I agree with the President but would stress that the country is facing twin inter-connected socio-cultural poisons: racism and gun violence. During an address from the Roosevelt Room at the White House after news of the yesterday’s mass killing in Texas, President Biden said: “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?”

Well, it is indeed a strange culture that bans books and bans Cuban cigars but not guns. I call it the gun culture.

For your summer reading about the gun culture, I recommend: Enough!: Solving America’s Gun Violence Crisis by Thomas Gabor (Center for the Study of Gun Violence, 2019). The author is a Canadian criminologist who was a professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa for thirty years. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1983. Since his retirement, Thomas Gabor has worked as a consultant on gun violence, crime, and related issues.

And for summer reading about racism and replacement, I recommend a book by Kathleen Belew, assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago and an international authority on the white-power movement. Her book is: Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. (Harvard University Press, 2018)

I am not running away from the issues, but I am running away from “For Another Voice” for a while. In keeping with my annual tradition, I will be away from my blog for about a month. Periodically, we all need time to relax, reflect, and refresh body and spirit.

I hope to be back with you around the Fourth of July.

Many kind regards.

  • Jack

11 thoughts on “GUN CULTURE

  1. “Well, it is indeed a strange culture that bans books and bans Cuban cigars but not guns.” What an absolutely brilliant line. Thank you, Jack! All best wishes, Brian

  2. Thanks for posting this, Jack. We’ll miss you and look forward to your return. Yes, the gun culture is an terrible American tragedy. In addition to your suggested readings, might also suggest that everyone makes a commitment to vote and to encourage others to do the same.

  3. Thanks, Jack, for addressing the problems in the United States. It’s overwhelming to figure out what we can do to help. Of course, as Betty mentioned, our duty to vote is right at the top of the list. Another suggestion: a mother from Sandy Hook said the legislators wont do anything until they receive an overwhelming number of calls and letters insisting on sensible gun laws. Every single person should contact their Representatives and Senators.

  4. Dear Jack,
    Have wonderful rest and relaxation! Your super brain must be needing a recharge.
    In the last two weeks you have pushed the hot buttons in American politics: abortion and guns. I wonder how many of Americans fit into these categories: 1. Abortion rights supporters who want to limit guns; 2. Gun rights supporters who want to limit abortions. Aren’t we a confusing lot here in the good old USA?
    Peace,
    Frank

  5. What? Is gun-slinging immaterial to the voting majority, such that not even the unmitigated slaughter of innocents can sway Congress? Have we elected legislators paralyzed by the NRA’s campaign funding afraid to vote for gun control, even without re-interpreting or revising the Second Amendment? It seems at times that we live as a mob, the “turba” of the gospels, not as a nation, in a multiverse where the powers of the wealthy are disconnected– “off-planet”– from our daily lives. So many are awash in “surplus powerlessness,” to quote Michael Lerne​r​​, even if we are not technically or statistically poor and voiceless.

    In our overtly gun-violent and Covid-ridden post-Trump USA, the wealthy are secure because they are gated, and government is unbalanced, suborned by private corporations to suppress and skirt the rule of law, and the will of the people ( although the majority isn’t automatically correct, merely contingent). Equality and the common good are idealized to the point of myth, while victimizing “losers” and mocking immigrants are valorized in speech by the previous Chief Executive, cheapening that office. Language in political media, including cell phones, is less communication than it is a technological “matter” of MIScommunication and DIS-information amid the maelstrom of sensational horrors gripping our attention every minute. Are we somehow united in our misunderstanding? That would be radically absurd.

    The Absurd, the nihilism of despair and suicide, is real​,​ ev​​er to be countered, never to be accepted​ as a given to which we must acquiesce. Resistance is​ work​,​ shoulder to shoulder ​together ​to care for the suffering, as Pope Francis said early in his tenure. Who among us is not suffering? ​ As you​ ​sa​y​​, Dr. Jack, t​​his is the meaning behind the Good Samaritan parable​– — ​​behind the Mandatum novum, and ​behind the unfinished work of ALBERT Camus [NOT of Renaud Camus​,​ ​n​or ​of ​Jean-Yves Renaud, who are NOT related in any way ​​except in opposition​ ​​against the ​too-soon-killed​ Albert of Algeria].

    ​How d​oes this ​finger-tip murder of Wholly Innocents​ ​​matter, in our very own prison of cancel-culture, hydrocarbon pollution, unmasking in the midst of a pandemic?​ There is more afoot than just the climate crisis and COVID that indicate a metaphysical morphosis is pounding down upon us.​ ​​Squabbling sociological hypotheses and “identity issues” obscure the physical realities of the Great Acceleration arising with rising global temperature, right under our noses, in the so-called Anthropocene. We are the catalyst, the worm in the ointment, to mix a metaphor. Will we emerge from our mental cocoon? ​Surviving in a cocoon is not living.​​

    ​Did Jesus not arise and emerge, bones or no bones, with wisdom in His wings? I believe that I believe, which leads me to consider that I myself am complicit in the internal combustion that is driving Sapiens off a cliff, IF I am mute, UNLESS I speak out, and at least write to the congressional delegates elected by us– as Cindy says– about what I think, what I believe that I believe. Perhaps I am less confused when I read what I write, just before I punch “Send.” It is absurd– by definition– to remain mute, dampered, on the matter of gun-slinging, on the matter of murder. ​ ​

    Frank Skeltis (Hello again!) wrote of our “confusion​,​”​ by definition a mania, a Homeric fury, that can overtake an individual with a gun at hand, a finger on the trigger, a literal “hot button” to use Frank’s term. When the USA’s gun count equals the population count, not to mention wielding vast funding for political campaign war chests​, it seems that​ the NRA has a socially manipulative, tactical (i.e., mixed balance, like a kneaded bread dough) advantage, swinging a big stick [or firing a canon] to obliterate opposition or dissent. Frank, I too wonder about the health of our society– our so-called civilization. Do we have an incipient “spiritual ataxia,” metaphorically speaking, lacking social tactics for balancing in the flux? Albert Camus wrote of “la mesure” almost 90 years ago, by which he meant the centered way, a certain self-control, the tactical risk of being-in-and-about-the-world. I hope and pray that recognizing– waring, acknowledging– the tension of a certain “spiritual ataxia” might itself signal that transformation and metanoia is happening, though painfully, for Sapiens. ​

    The confusion in our nation, in this world, is not, I think, an apocalyptic envisioned by Jeshua, decreed by Yahweh, or by any of the prophets or evangelists. It is likely a by-product, an “unintended consequence” of the internet, which itself is a physical manifestation of an emerging Noosphere. I think the struggles of the ancient (pre-scientific) scriptures, and of our present duty to engage– sans retard, sans regrette, sans retour– in the spiritual evolution of Sapiens, are not diminished. Spiritual ataxia is not the end, it signals struggle for emergence.

    Matter and spirit merge with time, and this is our place to take a stand against nihilism​, with which the history of human conflict is replete, to call out​ ​the​ ​A​bsurd, to give voice to hope. This time however, it is this Wide Old World, this fragile Earth our island home, that is herself our victim. She is changing, but are we? Nature will find a way to evolve, with or without us, but I think Yeshua, Yahweh, and the Ruach of Genesis prefer a Sapiens that is alive and changing. What more is to be revealed remains for us– as you always say, Dr. Jack– to study, think, and act. Thank you for your guidance and inspiration!

Leave a Reply to Betty Clermont Cancel reply