An American Madness (Part 2)

 

When it comes to news coverage outside of our borders Americans seem to want to know only one thing: Who’s trying to kill us and are we trying to kill them? Consequently, in this age of fractured audiences and diminishing returns American media companies have slashed their presence overseas and have entered in news sharing agreements with foreign broadcasters and newspapers to provide coverage. That means that what little foreign news that is consumed doesn’t get much of an American perspective and what it does get is usually skewed to favor some domestic policy agenda.

Let us eschew using the buzzword “bubble” here. A bubble is a fragile thing. What we have created is a bunker, a mile down and almost impenetrable. And this has created unexpected problems.

In her syndicated column this week, Mona Charen characterizes the Las Vegas mass murder as something uniquely American. “Our culture,” she writes, “for complex reasons, has given rise to a new expression of madness – the mass shooting followed by suicide.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. (Emphasis mine.)

While Vegas was consuming us here at home, Damiao Soares dos Santos, a security guard at the Innocent Children’s People Municipal Education Centre, in Janaúba, Brazil walked into a classroom, locked the door, poured gasoline on the children, their teacher and himself and set fire to the room. So far, four of the children and the teacher have died as well as the perpetrator. While it wasn’t firearms-related, it was just as horrific, if not more so.

In 1996, Thomas Watt Hamilton walked into the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and shot 32 people, 17 of which died. Most of his victims were only five years old. This led to sweeping gun control in the British Isles. What it did not do is prevent Derrick Bird, a Cumbrian taxi driver, from using a bolt action rifle and a double-barreled shotgun while shooting 21 people (12 died) and himself in 2010.

In the last 30 years there have been dozens and dozens of mass murders overseas. And yes, many have utilized firearms and many have ended in suicide. Either we have never heard of them or when they were mentioned in passing we conveniently forgot about them because we had no plans in visiting that part of the world any time soon. But either way, through ignorance or neglect, it has given way to an emotional self loathing that is unhealthy, both to ourselves and the way we govern.

Terrible events like Las Vegas are not just terrible if the name associated with it is All-American as Stephen Craig Paddock or Adam Lanza. It’s just as horrible if the name is Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, Anders Behring Breivik, Éric Borel, Friedrich Heinz Leibacher, Ljubiša Bogdanović, or Yang Qingpei. 

We need to climb out of our media and political bunkers. We have to combat the idea that America is some sort of Wild West Show while the rest of the world is this enlightened place where socialism has banned inhumanity and everyone lives free of violence and has universal healthcare.

The problem is not America. The problem is not guns. The problem is the human mind, an instrument that is both awesome and awesomely fragile. When it snaps into psychosis, terrible things happen. And as much as we want to stop these bad things from happening, we will never be able to legislate away the madness. Some times what we really need is grace and the perspective that these types of horrible incidents are not confined to our shores or our culture.

There are 48 comments.

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  1. Contributor

    Agreed. One madman says something about us, but the heroism shown during the event and the philanthropy afterwards doesn’t say as much? I’d say it says more.

    • #1
    • October 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm
    • 32 likes
  2. Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Agreed. One madman says something about us, but the heroism shown during the event and the philanthropy afterwards doesn’t say as much? I’d say it says more.

    There you go again with them positive waves, man. It harshes the nihilism and despair they want us to feel.

    You know what your problem is Lileks? You don’t live in the coastal enclaves where everyone thinks the proper way – you know gloomy. If everyone starts thinking like you they will behave like the folks in Texas after Harvey, pitching in to help. If you ask the chin-pulling talking heads on the MSM, folks should behave like the truck drivers in Porto Rico. What better time to go on strike for better pay than right after a hurricane like Maria? They want us imitating California, New York, and D. C., not flyover country.

    Seawriter

    • #2
    • October 6, 2017 at 1:36 pm
    • 16 likes
  3. Coolidge

    Why are their no serial killers in the Soviet Union? Because they all have government jobs.

    Our problems in the west are so much more noticeable because civil wars and mass violence can hide a lot of individual evil.

    A good example. Watch Omar Shariff’s movie Night of the Generals. What does a serial killer murdering prostitutes measure up to men who destroy Poland.

    • #3
    • October 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm
    • 2 likes
  4. Member

    EJHill: In her syndicated column this week, Mona Charen characterizes the Las Vegas mass murder as something uniquely American. “Our culture,” she writes, “for complex reasons, has given rise to a new expression of madness – the mass shooting followed by suicide.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. (Emphasis mine.)

    I quit reading Mona Charen long ago as I so often disagree with her. No point in getting in a dither over some stupid thing she writes. However, this statement would have gotten noticed. These mad people almost always go after children or folks that are confined is some area. When my friend was here visiting me in June, I tried to convince her to move back to the states, but she is convinced France is better. I just finished reading in Frond Page Mag. by Daniel Greenfield that more people are killed in France than Afghanistan. You are safer there than Paris.

    • #4
    • October 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm
    • 7 likes
  5. Member

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    Why are their no serial killers in the Soviet Union? Because they all have government jobs.

    Plenty of massacres in such authoritarian states, it is simply that no one in the West bothers to pay attention.

    Russia

    The mass killing of 12 people — including four children — at a farmer’s home in the town of Kushchevskaya in Krasnodar Krai has put a bright spotlight on the close links that have long existed between Russian law enforcement and organized crime.

    Some 20 men are alleged to have participated in the November 5 attack, in which most of the victims were stabbed to death.

    China

    Chinese authorities say two WOMEN were part of knife-wielding terror gang which left at least 33 dead and 143 wounded after attacking a train station in China

    But apparently to some the real problem is America’s Wild West gun culture. If only we took care of that pesky Second Amendment we could be as peaceful as Paris.

    At least 129 people are dead, and another 349 injured, after the three teams of jihadis attacked the Stade de France football stadium, a handful of bars and cafes, and then finally the Bataclan concert hall.

    • #5
    • October 6, 2017 at 1:59 pm
    • 10 likes
  6. Member

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    Why are their no serial killers in the Soviet Union? Because they all have government jobs.

    Our problems in the west are so much more noticeable because civil wars and mass violence can hide a lot of individual evil.

    A good example. Watch Omar Shariff’s movie Night of the Generals. What does a serial killer murdering prostitutes measure up to men who destroy Poland.

    Andrei Chikatilo was a famous Soviet serial killer. And after googling, I found more.

    • #6
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm
    • 5 likes
  7. Member

    Bravo. I couldn’t bear to read Charen’s post, but this pernicious meme that Americans are uniquely violent has got to be debunked. Thank you for the research.

    • #7
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:01 pm
    • 14 likes
  8. Member

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    Watch Omar Shariff’s movie Night of the Generals. What does a serial killer murdering prostitutes measure up to men who destroy Poland.

    An under appreciated film. And reuniting Shariff and O’Toole, though on opposite sides this time.

    I also remember a movie, maybe early 90s where Donald Sutherland portrayed a Soviet detective hunting a serial killer, while his superiors insisted there could be no such thing in the USSR.

    • #8
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:01 pm
    • 3 likes
  9. Member

    EJHill: Terrible events like Las Vegas are not just terrible if the name associated with it is All-American as Stephen Craig Paddock or Adam Lanza. It’s just as horrible if the name is Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, Anders Behring Breivik, Éric Borel, Friedrich Heinz Leibacher, Ljubiša Bogdanović, or Yang Qingpei. 

    Yes, and this: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Hundreds-killed-in-Russia-in-school-hostage-siege-2727969.php

    • #9
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm
    • 1 like
  10. Member

    Hang On (View Comment):

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    Why are their no serial killers in the Soviet Union? Because they all have government jobs.

    Our problems in the west are so much more noticeable because civil wars and mass violence can hide a lot of individual evil.

    A good example. Watch Omar Shariff’s movie Night of the Generals. What does a serial killer murdering prostitutes measure up to men who destroy Poland.

    Andrei Chikatilo was a famous Soviet serial killer. And after googling, I found more.

    There was an excellent movie made of the story, Citizen X.

    • #10
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm
    • 2 likes
  11. Member

    I have a question: Does anything we pay for use of Ricochet go to Mona?

    • #11
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm
    • 5 likes
  12. Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    There was an excellent movie made of the story, Citizen X.

    Yeah, I saw that. That’s the reason I knew it.

    • #12
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm
    • 2 likes
  13. Member

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Does anything we pay for use of Ricochet go to Mona?

    Excellent question. I dislike her so much I hate to think we are paying her. But, who knows, maybe we need her to view a different perspective.

    • #13
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Thatcher

    Yes. Well done Sir.

    • #14
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm
    • 6 likes
  15. Thatcher

    Excellent article.

    • #15
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:28 pm
    • 7 likes
  16. Member

    It isn’t just that Americans think that gun violence is uniquely American. Americans think that everything is uniquely American. Or at least everything bad or distasteful. This line of thought often goes hand in hand with the word “epidemic.” Drugs are a uniquely American epidemic. Obesity is a uniquely American epidemic. Violent crime is a uniquely American epidemic. Sometimes the word epidemic is unnecessary. Racial tensions are uniquely American. Absence of socialized medicine. Etc.

    Actually, almost nothing is uniquely American. (Well, maybe good dentistry.) Is this form of self-loathing uniquely American? I doubt it. If anything, I would guess that the self-loathing American is uniquely leftist. And the America-loathing foreigner is anything-but-uniquely envious, but still happy to reinforce any narrative that says America is “uniquely” bad in any way.

    True, the average American is pretty ignorant about the problems of the rest of the world, and that ignorance can easily translate into the belief that those problems don’t exist. Nothing new about that. Americans have never known much about the rest of the world, until we get sucked into a war someplace. The rest of the world, in contrast, knows about at least one other country – that country being America. I would have expected better from Mona, though. She is in no position to fall back on ignorance as an excuse for nonsense.

    • #16
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm
    • 9 likes
  17. Member

    The nonsense I am seeing from my Canadian and Scottish relatives, and one of my brothers here in California, is driving me to distraction.

    My other brother and sisters and I have all agreed to not engage, which for family relationships is wise. But without any pushback the rhetoric is ramping up and I think they’re all feeling empowered and morally superior.

    I had one sister waiting to hear if a friend’s daughter would be found dead or alive (she didn’t make it) while reading posts from cousins about how screwed up and evil the US is in general and Trump is in particular.

    • #17
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:51 pm
    • 9 likes
  18. Member

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    True, the average American is pretty ignorant about the problems of the rest of the world,

    I wish I didn’t know anything about Islam, or Sharia, or jihad, or Jalalabad, or Mosul,…

    Remember the good old (pre-9/11) days? Yeah, they were great.

    • #18
    • October 6, 2017 at 2:56 pm
    • 9 likes
  19. Thatcher

    A quality post, EJ. I think most Americans would be stunned at the amount of serious news that never makes it to American shores. I should thank Matt Drudge, who has been linking stories in the foreign press for a couple decades, which encouraged me to add them to my news reading. For instance did you hear about the below when it happened?

    A suicide bomber has blown himself up at the entrance of a Sufi shrine in Pakistan, killing at least 18 people. That was yesterday.

    The Islamic State group today claimed a bomb attack at a police station in the Syrian capital Damascus a day earlier that killed at least 17 people. That was Tuesday.

    I just picked a couple from this week with high body counts to make my point. I could create a huge list here just from October incidents. There were 15 more killed today in Syria in one blast.

    We really don’t have a clue – our MSM is too busy freaking out over nonsense like Trump Junior having Russian dressing on his salad or whatever. There are people in some countries who see Vegas-type events almost weekly.

    • #19
    • October 6, 2017 at 3:04 pm
    • 14 likes
  20. Thatcher

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Does anything we pay for use of Ricochet go to Mona?

    Excellent question. I dislike her so much I hate to think we are paying her. But, who knows, maybe we need her to view a different perspective.

    Of course we do, Kay. I wouldn’t want a thousand posts from me, or a thousand posts from you, either. Mixing it up allows us to pick and choose, and sometimes even I pick someone like Mona to read. I used to love her columns so much, and I remain hopeful that she will return to her former glory, once she gets over Trump winning. I still consider her a great writer, even if we disagree more than we agree these days.

    • #20
    • October 6, 2017 at 3:10 pm
    • 6 likes
  21. Member

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    Americans have never known much about the rest of the world,

    I take exception, you are brushing us all with the same tar brush.

    • #21
    • October 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm
    • 1 like
  22. Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Larry3435: Americans have never known much about the rest of the world,

    Kay of MT: I take exception, you are brushing us all with the same tar brush.

    There are always exceptions. But ask any editor or network news executive and they’ll basically tell you that Americans do not like to consume foreign news.

    • #22
    • October 6, 2017 at 3:25 pm
    • 5 likes
  23. Member

    EJHill: The problem is not America. The problem is not guns. The problem is the human mind, an instrument that is both awesome and awesomely fragile. When it snaps into psychosis, terrible things happen. And as much as we want to stop these bad things from happening, we will never be able to legislate away the madness. Some times what we really need is grace and the perspective that these types of horrible incidents are not confined to our shores or our culture.

    I agree with this and your post, but I would go further to say that the problem goes beyond nature and involves a preternatural dynamic: demonic influence.

    Instead of a conversation on gun control it would be better to talk about Satan. His influence is real and it’s time for the Church Militant to take up arms. Tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Praying the Rosary is powerful.

    • #23
    • October 6, 2017 at 3:34 pm
    • 4 likes
  24. Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    There are always exceptions. But ask any editor or network news executive and they’ll basically tell you that Americans do not like to consume foreign news.

    I suspect that is a somewhat universal trait. I write for an English publisher, Osprey. They have a blog kind of like Ricochet because you have to be a paid member to comment. There they invite input on potential new titles from members. Or invite input on new release announcements.

    What I find fascinating is the number of European commenters who loudly complain about new titles involving the US. They go along the lines of “What? Another American Civil War title?” or “You know, if you have to do a book on World War II/World War I does it have to involve the United States? How about one about [blank]” (where blank is – in order – Britain, Russia, France, any minor Allied power).

    Of course a Danish reader wants to see something about about the 14th century war between the Hansa and Denmark. Someone from South America has asked be to do a book about the battles fought by the Huscar. Or the Portuguese participant that wants to see something about the Black Prince’s Najera Campaign or something about the Lines of Torres Vedras. And so forth. (Yes, it is all inside baseball if you are not into military history.)

    People are interested in what is local. Yes, many overseas are more interested in the US than folks in the US are interested in overseas, but that is more likely because the US is big enough to roll over in its sleep and accidentally crush the local country than anything else. It becomes a local story.

    Seawriter

    • #24
    • October 6, 2017 at 4:06 pm
    • 8 likes
  25. Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):
    There are always exceptions. But ask any editor or network news executive and they’ll basically tell you that Americans do not like to consume foreign news.

    I suspect that is a somewhat universal trait. I write for an English publisher, Osprey. They have a blog kind of like Ricochet because you have to be a paid member to comment. There they invite input on potential new titles from members. Or invite input on new release announcements.

    What I find fascinating is the number of European commenters who loudly complain about new titles involving the US. They go along the lines of “What? Another American Civil War title?” or “You know, if you have to do a book on World War II/World War I does it have to involve the United States? How about one about [blank]” (where blank is – in order – Britain, Russia, France, any minor Allied power).

    Of course a Danish reader wants to see something about about the 14th century war between the Hansa and Denmark. Someone from South America has asked be to do a book about the battles fought by the Huscar. Or the Portuguese participant that wants to see something about the Black Prince’s Najera Campaign or something about the Lines of Torres Vedras. And so forth. (Yes, it is all inside baseball if you are not into military history.)

    People are interested in what is local. Yes, many overseas are more interested in the US than folks in the US are interested in overseas, but that is more likely because the US is big enough to roll over in its sleep and accidentally crush the local country than anything else. It becomes a local story.

    Seawriter

    Osprey, yes. A fine publishing house. Where else could you find, “Camouflage Patterns of the 15th Panzer Regiment From April 1940 to June 1941”. ?

    • #25
    • October 6, 2017 at 4:49 pm
    • 7 likes
  26. Member

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    Osprey, yes. A fine publishing house. Where else could you find, “Camouflage Patterns of the 15th Panzer Regiment From April 1940 to June 1941”. ?

    You mean that is not important?

    Seawriter

    • #26
    • October 6, 2017 at 4:58 pm
    • 6 likes
  27. Coolidge

    Sigh. If I explain Citizen X you miss the point of the joke. That the Serial Killers are all working for the government as official torturers for the Terror State.

    • #27
    • October 6, 2017 at 5:44 pm
    • 2 likes
  28. Contributor

    I agree with the main thrust of this @ejhill post but build off @scottwilmot comment about a source other than psychiatric catastrophe. It is not necessarily the case that either fried synapses or the Devil made the mass murderer do it. The Bible points squarely at each of us being accountable for yielding to our own fallen nature. Being given over to our own evil will is not identical with being taken over by another’s will nor with electrochemical disruption of link between will and action.

    • #28
    • October 6, 2017 at 6:01 pm
    • 3 likes
  29. Member

    CliffordBrown (View Comment):
    I agree with the main thrust of this @ejhill post but build off @scottwilmot comment about a source other than psychiatric catastrophe. It is not necessarily the case that either fried synapses or the Devil made the mass murderer do it. The Bible points squarely at each of us being accountable for yielding to our own fallen nature. Being given over to our own evil will is not identical with being taken over by another’s will nor with electrochemical disruption of link between will and action.

    Yeah, as someone pointed out today (Prager?), the killer knew what he was doing was evil, as evident by his masterful concealment of his plans and purpose. He exhibited the worst of human nature.

    • #29
    • October 6, 2017 at 6:50 pm
    • 6 likes
  30. Member

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    It isn’t just that Americans think that gun violence is uniquely American. Americans think that everything is uniquely American. Or at least everything bad or distasteful.

    I wouldn’t limit it so. Everything.

    • #30
    • October 6, 2017 at 7:31 pm
    • Like
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