Monday, 26 May 2014

America’s suicide bombers

Now that it’s Memorial Day, we can gather at the nearest cemetery and weep over the last few kids blown away by the most recent wacko with a semi-automatic, recall the lives of the random victims, shed a few tears, raise our candles, visit the grief counselor, and sooner or later get back to the routine a little shaken but resigned to the deaths as if the classmates had slipped on a patch of ice or been carried off by a tornado.

I’m not sure how I’d feel if any of the dead had been an acquaintance of mine, but from a distance I shudder to think that yet another hand-holding memorial ceremony in the face of this latest outrage would be quite adequate. To hear a university president express “sorrow, shock and pain” given the routine inevitability of these events seems almost a mockery of the dead.

The irony of the shooter coming from a family involved in the making of sport-murder films like The Hunger Games is not lost on some of us even though commentators have avoided, prudently, anything that hints at pinning blame on the shooter’s parents. But without dredging up a facile cliché about sanitized movie violence and its alleged effects, there is something particularly chilling about this handsome kid’s eerily bland and infantile video in the service of nihilism and evil.

One does wonder what on earth is going on in our culture to produce such a frightening display of murderous adolescent angst. The cold-eyed child soldiers of Sierra Leone or the Congo have nothing on this product of our morally perilous polity.

I stumbled upon news of the Santa Barbara shootings after reading a depressing tale about a soccer coach in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, trying to salvage the throwaway lives of poor kids trapped between the options of crushing poverty or a short, violent (but well-fed) life in a gang. While young Mr Rodger roamed the tony precincts of Isla Vista in his beautiful auto, whining about having nowhere to put his dick, these Honduran children were wondering whether they would get lunch.

Perhaps the bronzed children of Santa Barbara should be getting a little more opportunity to see the world outside the bright confines of their edenic party school and inspired to find meaning in—dare I sound so ridiculous?—making the world a better place. I’d be encouraged if they had decided, instead of sharing their choked remembrances beneath the swaying palm trees, to stage their prayer circle at the local headquarters of the NRA.

As it stands, all will be soon forgotten except for the bereaved families whose lives now are shattered, today’s unlucky ones condemned to the agony of losing a child while, for tomorrow’s, absolutely nothing will be done. What will stop our suicide bombers as they go forth and multiply?

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