While people can brew a quite mad cocktail in their own heads it is difficult to imagine this event at a political rally occurring anywhere else outside the US except in a war zone.
And the US has to be seen as a war zone.
If a Islamist walks into a Baghdad market place and blows himself and 30 others up — he is as mad/as pathological as this guy in Arizona. If Sarah Palin calls for the assassination of Julian Assange (as she has) she’s fuckin mad too…
At some point you have to look upon madness as an ideology embraced by both individuals and groups — political currents and otherwise — regardless of how much it is accepted as ‘normal’ discourse. And in the US ‘normal’ does no longer exist. Barbarism and psychosis are really one and the same head space.
Rather than looking for solutions, too often one side screams about how angry, unyielding, and insulting the other side is, either not realizing or deliberately ignoring that they are doing the same thing. It is possible to have strong disagreements and still respect the other person and not demonize them. Look, Dave Riley and I have had sharp disagreements at times but I respect his decades-long involvment in far left politics and would enjoy meeting him. Conflicts between people about politics does not mean the other person is automatically Evil. It just doesn’t. But too often, that what it feels like here in America now.
This country is so freaking polarized and on the edge now that it wouldn’t take much to push in into an abyss that would be very difficult to get out of, just a few more unhinged lone gunmen or, worse yet, some renegade splinter group that wasn’t crazy at all and knew exactly what they were doing.
It also seems to me that a lot of the response needs to face up to the fact that violent politics is as American as apple pie…and to defer too much to the individual case of mental illness argument merely lets the whole filthy capitalist mix off the hook.
It’s the ‘lone gunman cleans up corrupt town’ ethos. It’s bedrock in our culture. In its positive forms, it’s also the maverick, the individualist who creates something new by ignoring the accepted wisdom, and that can be good. But it sure has a dark side. That’s what we’re seeing now.
The abyss awaits. Will we turn away in time? Seriously. Because the rest of the planet is looking at us like we’ve just gone totally unhinged.