January 14, 2011

The United States as Jared Loughner: How the State Sanctifies Murder

I'm not going to write an essay with the above title. I don't need to. Published on April 25, 2007:

The United States as Cho Seung-Hui: How the State Sanctifies Murder

Alter the specific referents as required, and the major arguments remain exactly the same. They are fully applicable today.

Two excerpts:
The similarities between Cho's psychology and the forces that drive United States foreign policy ought to be startling, and profoundly disturbing: the feelings of vulnerability, victimization, humiliation and rage are the same -- as is the determination to restore one's own dominance through violence and murder. But be sure you appreciate the chronology and the causal chain that Lifton correctly identifies: just as Cho did not suddenly become a murderer on the morning of April 16, but only reached that awful destination after years of inexorable psychological development along one particular path, so too the United States was not instantaneously transformed into an unfocused, rage-filled international murderer after 9/11. As Lifton states, "The war on terrorism, then, took amorphous impulses toward combating terror and used them as a pretext for realizing a prior mission aimed at American global hegemony."


Iraq has not altered the fundamentals of our foreign policy in any significant way. Our ruling class continues to believe the United States is "the indispensable power," and that we have the "right" to direct events across the globe, and intervene whenever we deem it necessary for the protection of our "national interests." But those "interests" have long been defined in a manner which can justify almost any intervention, anywhere, any time. What we would vehemently condemn others for doing, including the invasion and occupation of a country that did not threaten them, is permitted to us, and to us alone. No action is prohibited to us, while only those actions are available to others that we choose to permit. At the end, Cho was enraged, megalomaniacal, and probably insane. What are we to say of the United States government?

But our nation's crimes are filtered through the State, which dissolves guilt and responsibility, as it sanctifies our sins. Cho is a monster. Our governing class and its unparalleled military commit crimes on a much vaster scale -- and our strongest criticisms are that the crimes were "incompetently managed," or that they represented "poor policy choices." If Cho had survived his massacre, our justice system would likely have killed him. Our State has done infinitely worse, and it has done so repeatedly over more than century.

Yet we do nothing. Our sleep is untroubled. Life goes on.

But not for everyone. No. Not for everyone.
That essay is one of my better efforts. I will unqualifiedly state that it is a damned fine piece of work.