I am deeply saddened to read of the innocents targeted with gun violence in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last night. And also all over the world, all the time.
I note that what those folks were doing in Aurora was what I wanted to do today: beat the heat for two hours, sit back comfortably and watch a fantasy story.
I don't know what all the other people targeted with gun violence around the world and in the US were doing. How were they beating the heat? What kind of comfort were they seeking out? What kind of stories did they want to be told? What kind of realities did they want to escape?
There is a total takeover of the news cycle when violence targets a bourgeois pastime, or when it targets white folks doing anything. At other times such violence is largely invisible (unless it concerns lucrative investments, sort of the same thing to some, but that's a discussion for another time).
I recall that the murder of Trayvon Martin was invisible. It became newsworthy only when the confessed and unrepentant murderer George Zimmerman became a potential fugitive from reluctant Florida law enforcement. The "violence" that concerned the news cycle was the disregard for authority that Zimmerman might have shown, had he really gone on the run.
Yesterday I read with horror, but without surprise, that in the period since Trayvon Martin's murder, a Black man, woman, or child is gunned down by the State or its proxies every thirty six hours in the US.
James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado shooting, like Jared Loughner before him, is a household name today. What are the names of the cops and vigilantes who go into black communities and kill with impunity? Where are the outraged media pundits to pour over the details on these horrors? Why didn't network news ask political candidates what their stance was on gun control when an off-duty cop strayed into Rekia Boyd's Chicago neighborhood and put a bullet through her head earlier this year? Or when scores of others were robbed of their futures, stolen from their families?
But what kind of expectation should anyone have of commercial news sources? The ABC network has labelled the shooting rampage in Aurora the largest mass shooting in US history. I saw this statistic jump instantly from ABC to Wikipedia (and who knows how many other information sources). It must now coexist, uncomfortably, like the colonizer with the colonized, with the fact that the hundreds of Lakota Sioux massacred by the US at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890, were also people.
Oh, but that was war.
And it's all war, all the time.
I do not point any of this out to diminish the scope of the horror in Colorado, but to illustrate the dimensions of it. I revise the famous formulation misattributed to Stalin: one death a tragedy, a million deaths a million tragedies. And as I type this I see that 188 people were killed in Syria today. They had names and faces and mothers and lovers.
Barack Obama pulled his campaign ads in Colorado today, and directed flags to fly at half mast on all federal buildings. The indiscriminate massacre of innocents by bombs dropped from drone aircraft will not be suspended, however. Not for one fucking second. And armed gunmen, trained killers, armed and dressed something like the murderer in the Aurora movie theater, have the beloved politician's blessings - no, orders - to shoot up whoever they like in Afghanistan at this very moment.
My thoughts are with the families of the victims. All of them.