“In defense of humans
Lay down your sticks and stones
Weapons and violence are better off left alone
Cause you don’t rise when people fall
I see you rot this world
I see you ride this world
I see you rape this world
On, off, on, off, on, off
And I don’t like what I see
You don’t rise when people fall”
- Fugazi – from the song In Defense Of Humans
From its inception America decided to open Pandora’s box in the name of financial profit… They opened Pandora’s box and out came the genocide of Native people for their land. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade to profit off the lives and labor of others also came out of the box. The flimsy excuses to go to wars that line the pockets of the military industrial complex also came out of that box. The zombie capitalism that allowed profit to be a guiding cultural principal in America also came rushing out of that box.
These ills that came streaming out of Pandora’s box were opened because financial benefit was to be made and to hell with whatever consequences followed… And when the naked horror of the consequences rears up its ugly head we search for ways to close the box without ever trying to put what came out, back in… But there is no closing Pandora’s box… Not without a paradigm shift in thinking from capitalism (which is profit, at any cost) to something humane, something sustainable… Something that works for the many instead of something that works for the few…
While we reflect on the recent tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, and search our souls for some solace i propose that surest way to go about that is to investigate the history of violence that has shaped America into a death culture and it’s connection to making a profit at any cost. This country has a long history of placing financial profit over life. It was founded on that principle with the Native American genocide for land. Built upon with the enslavement of Africans. Expanded with war into imperialistic adventurism from Mexico to Puerto Rico and continues today in places like Afghanistan. i’m not trying to belittle or set side the Newton massacre, on the contrary, i’m trying to expand it, to have it be thought of and included within a larger context of ongoing tragedy’s that we have refused to either connect or recognize.
The occasional outburst of random senseless violence that bursts forth into our consciousness like the recent Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting and the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting and this latest tragedy in Newtown Connecticut should be a wake up call to us. There’s writing on the wall in each of these incidents. A writing on the wall that we’re refusing to read because of the unease it’ll bring. The issue isn’t about gun control or gun laws it’s about placing the desire of financial profit above everything else. The problem is that laws created to control gun ownership curb the profits of gun corporations. Capitalism is God in America and nothing gets in the way of God in America.
Nothing is allowed to get in the way of making a dollar in America, not the delicate balance of the eco-system, not the unlivable wages paid by corporations at the expense of obscene profits, not the homelessness that is created by banks foreclosing on homes, not the maiming or death of soldiers that comes from the profiteering of the military industrial complex, not the privatization of prisons for profit and the link to increased prison population in times of low crime, nothing gets in the way of making a dollar in America. The guiding principle of placing profit above people in America is what makes the culture of America a death culture. The examples of this death culture abound…
The BP oil disaster placed profit above the lives of people. The government can’t afford to oversee these oil rigs properly but it can afford to subsidize the fossil fuel industry at the cost of billions to create record making profits for oil companies. Eleven people died on that BP oil rig, and untold number of wildlife, not to mention the destruction of an entire eco-system.
The company with the most employees on federal assistance programs in the US, like Food Stamps, is the low wage, part-time employment machine known as Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart pays its employees a substandard wage forcing them to seek federal assistance to survive. In essence, the federal government is subsidizing the billions of dollars in profits made by Wal-Mart by helping to feed its low wage employees.
The banks who became to big to fail capitalize their profits and socialize their risks. Their failures become our responsibility, we absorb their risk and bail them out. Our reward for that, is to be turned out of our homes in foreclosures and made homeless so that the bank ledger turns from red to black. Our misery quickly becomes their profit.
Nobody loves a war like the military industrial complex because it means multi-billion dollar profits. For the soldiers who are fighting that war it means asking their families for money to get the body armor they lack. In the meantime the federal money used for war that could have been spent on domestic needs like education or infrastructure or health care is fattening the pockets of private military contractors who seem to never lack for body armor or anything else…
The privatization of prisons all across the country for profit has seen an explosion in prison construction and in the prison population. The fact that the crime rate all across the country is at an all time statistical low is of no consequence. Crime statistics are ignored in order to fill the coffers of the prison industrial complex.
There’s money to be made at every turn in this death culture, even in these shootings that take place from time to time. In 1999 at Columbine thirteen were shot and killed, in 2007 thirty-two were shot and killed at Virginia Tech, in 2008 five were shot and killed at Northern Illinois University, in that same year thirteen were shot and killed in an immigrant center in Binghamton NY. In 2011 in Arizona a congress woman and six others were shot and killed, including a child. In April of 2012 seven were shot and killed at Oikos University, in July of 2012 twelve were shot and killed in a movie theater in Aurora and in August of 2012, six were shot and killed in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Each time there is a massacre there’s talk of gun control but no talk of the death culture that permeates American society… No discussion on limiting the ability to procure profits that are built on tragedy, in massacre, in war, in prison, in homelessness, in unsustainable wages, in hunger… Meanwhile there are 310 million guns in America and 312 million Americans… There’s money to be made in guns and the price we pay for these massacres could just be the price of doing business for gun manufacturers…
When the US sends out drones to “surgically” drop a bomb in order to kill a terrorist hiding in a village in Kandahar and a few others die in the process this is called “collateral damage” by the war machine profiteers and their lackeys in the media… In Kandahar they call that “collateral damage” mother, father, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend… The fallout of the slaughter that takes place in Columbine and Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, and in Binghamton NY and in Arizona and in Okios University, and in Aurora and in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and yes even in a school in Newtown Connecticut is also called mother, father, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend… But on the balance sheets of the military industrial complex and the gun manufacturers, the victims of these massacres is listed as “collateral damage” to the profits of a death culture…
And this may be why the questions that are posed by these massacres are so difficult to answer… When you are forced to look for an answer within the current paradigm of American death culture, where profits trump life, then there is no answer to be found… Pandora’s box can’t be closed again and what has escaped can never be put back in the box within the current paradigm of thinking… If you’re looking for an answer within the system as it’s currently designed you’ll only find it in more dead bodies… Until there is a radical shift in the legal profiting off of the misfortune and misery of others, there will be no answer that will prevent another massacre. Until there isn’t a profit in America’s death culture the body count will continue to climb from Kandahar to Kindergarten…