It is impossible to see the diametrically opposed reactions to the terrorist incident in New York (8 killed, perpetrator from Uzbekistan) and the one in Texas on Sunday (26 killed, good ol' Angry White Guy perpetrator) as anything other than thinly veiled blood-and-soil nationalism. There is no other way to interpret being outraged at the idea of an Other killing Americans but willing to shrug off Americans killing other Americans.

One idea that always fascinated me – and almost led me to grad school for psychology, until I realized modern psychology is all weird fMRI shit that is inadvertently feeding the next wave of invasive universal surveillance (just wait until the TSA is scanning for Anger in 20 years once the technology improves) – is the lack of logic behind fears. I've always been terrified of two things: spiders and bridges. Even as a kid I was able to recognize how little sense it made to be afraid of those things.

My odds of having my life negatively impacted by a spider are so small that they can't even be measured (especially in the Midwest). Fewer people have been killed or injured by a bridge than by lightning strikes. The old cartoon scenario of a piano falling from the sky and landing on me is vastly more likely than either scenario.

But we all know from personal experience that logic is a poor tool against someone's fears. You can explain how statistically safe air travel is to a person who is afraid of flying and it is highly unlikely to make a dent in their irrational fear. Most fear is at least somewhat irrational, because we base it on our perceptions more than our experience. We recoil from things that are threatening, but how do we learn what is a threat? We combine anecdotal evidence with second-hand information of dubious reliability.

If you're afraid of being killed by a random act of violence in the modern United States – which, of course, you should not be, since it is low on the list of things that are going to Get You – it is difficult to wrap my mind around any kind of logic that would justify subdividing it into Foreign and Not Foreign for the purposes of determining the appropriate reaction to it. Right now there are millions of people walking around this country afraid that a brown non-citizen named Mohammed is going to drive a truck over them but relatively unconcerned that a white guy named Chad is going to shoot them with guns that are ridiculously easy for him to acquire.

Worse, people justify this with the fantasy that while there is no way to stop Mohammed other than to adopt Festung America border policies, Chad can be stopped if we all pack heat and shoot back. We hear this message explicitly from people in positions of authority. Don't worry about Chad – just shoot back.

Don't worry about the neighbor or the co-worker with 75 guns. That is not a threat. That can never hurt you. Focus on the real threat, which is immigrants and Strapping Black Bucks and Thugs and MS-13 and basically anyone with a darker complexion than Mike Pence or a Funny Accent or a different church.

Isn't it better to die at the hand of Our Kind than to die at the hand of the Infidel? Damn right it is. Don't fear death. Death isn't scary. Living to see the pollution of our blood and sacred soil…now THAT'S nightmare fuel.

45 thoughts on “DO ME THE HONOR”

  • Wow, I get to post first!

    Don’t forget the further cognitive dissonance that the Vegas shooter had money and was thus a job creator. I’ve barely heard a peep about that one lately, and certainly not form and right-wing outlets.

  • Let me make one minor edit to one of your sentences:

    "Courtesy of Reich-wing Republicans, right now there are millions of people walking around this country afraid that a brown non-citizen named Mohammed is going to drive a truck over them."


  • Great piece, Ed — but I'm massively curious about how "modern psychology is all weird fMRI shit that is inadvertently feeding the next wave of invasive universal surveillance"…any chance you could do a position it?

  • My sister's car broke down once and left her stranded on the side of the expressway in the Chicago suburbs.

    My father, otherwise a pretty sensible guy, was sure a serial killer was going to get her. Because of course there are serial killers everywhere.

    I told him "You'll get run over by some SUV driver who's talking on their cell phone long before the serial killer ever gets a crack at you."

  • There is nothing irrational about fear of spiders. They have eight legs and are not aquatic. There is something fundamentally sick and wrong with terrestrial octopedalism. Evil incarnate.

    Also clowns.

    Do not google "clown spider."

  • No More Mister Nice Blog today has a paragraph today that's a delicious sauce to Ed's satire:

    A lot of people in my America believe in gun control, but we've been strictly forbidden from having any influence on gun laws at the national level, and certainly in Texas. We also have no cultural influence, except in the negative sense. What I mean by that is that when we say critical things about guns, the other America reacts with outrage, and then embraces guns even more. In the other America, while it's acknowledged that bad people do sometimes get their hands on guns and do regrettable things, feelings about guns are overwhelmingly positive. Guns are fun. Guns can help you feed your family. Guns will protect you from crime. Guns prevent government tyranny. Guns — they're wonderful.

    And don't miss the clincher:

    …and it's always good to remind people that you're part of the gun culture and they should be a little bit afraid of you for that reason.

  • I agree with Ed here in general. But I also think it's not unimportant to understand why people kill. The massacre on Sunday and the Manhattan truck attack are not the same and deserve to be treated as different. However, the main gist of the post- that fear of terrorism is largely irrational, just as fear of black/brown people in general is typically irrational. And it's pretty clear that Angry White Dudes are way ahead this season.

  • Further evidence is the ceaseless search for a motive when Chad commits the crime, and nothing of the sort when it was Mohammed. Mohammed is Muslim, you see. That's the motive. But we must find a motive for Chad, because if we can focus on that, we won't have to focus on gun control.

  • Gerald McGrew says:

    I'm a father of two teenage daughters who have both experienced a school shooting.

    I can't describe how much it pains me that my kids are growing up in a time and place where when they go to the movies or any other public place, they now check for the nearest exits.

    This shit has got to end.

  • Gerald McGrew says:

    Just went to lunch and heard Hannity on the radio saying that we just need armed guards…..apparently at every school in the country, every single church in the country (no matter how small), every mall in the country….

    Basically the right-wing "solution" is to turn the US into a militarized zone.

  • Moh made it amply clear that he was acting to please Allah, but the motives of the white guys were not so clear.

    BTW, noting where the exits are located in a public place is a cheap and effective way of preparing for an emergency situation, which doesn't necessarily have to be a mass shooter.

    To be honest, i think living here in this little IN city is the best way to avoid any act of terrorism.

  • Gerard,

    "Basically the right-wing "solution" is to turn the US into a militarized zone" which somehow also means "Freedom"

  • Right now, the NRA is working hard to make silencers legal, because God knows that'll help. The NRA also has no problem selling to brown people in the Cartels as long as Chad does the straw buy for them "Hi! I need 50 AR-15s and 150 banana clips; is cash OK?"

  • I’m skipping the long diatribe about weighing of actual risk. That’s not how our minds work unless perhaps you’re an actuary.

    Lots of irrational fears (e.g., the dark, the unknown, snakes) have well understood origins and explanations in mythology and Jungian psychology. Henry Petroski has an interesting explanation about fear of bridges (gephyrophobia) being a product of the 19th-century rail era when lots of wooden and iron bridges did in fact collapse. We generally overcome fears by imposing rationality or outgrowing them, less frequently by facing them, almost never by explaining them away. The added element of xenophobia stokes fears, especially when the media fans hatred. Such fear is unlikely to be overcome even though it can be explained as politicking.

    My intuition is that, on top of all the obvious explanations getting bandied about, suicidal mass killers are participants in a broad, theatrical rejection of being, asserting that modern life is no longer worth living. Wish there were more discussion of that angle.

  • Oh, every day I fear being run over by a truck. Because I have the audacity to ride a bicycle for transport in the United States.

    Rattakin, I so Googled "clown spider." Kinda pretty!

  • Spider and snake phobias may have some basis in evolutionary history.Those are the only two threats "at home" to an arboreal primate, which we were some six million and more years ago. Fairly often those two phobias start from some experience between the ages of about two to four, before all the impulse control an adult brain can add but right around the time we're primed to start learning friend-or-foe distinctions.

    Compare phobias, though, to real fears. The likeliest place to get killed in the US is in freeway accidents. It's something I think about every time I'm out on a freeway, i.e. often here in LA. But it doesn't make me freak out or unable to go outdoors. I just get very alert and cautious in traffic.

    Spiders, on the other hand …. Don't even start about spiders.

  • Gerald McGrew says:

    @ajobil, while you are correct about how being aware of exits and such is just a good general idea, there's a stark difference between that and checking exits due to a very real and rational fear that at any point in time a shooting could occur…….because you've been through one.

    Simply put, no place in the US is safe.

  • Lobsters and crabs have too many legs. Just saying. Definitely don't think about that if you eat them.

    On the bright side, my phobias get tiresome as I get old. Something to look forward to.

  • crabs I don't know from. Lobstahs on t'otha hand, I know about. Allathem little leggies and the "petals" on the tail contain tiny bits of quite tasty flesh and if the bug is in the 4# and up range, not so tiny bits.

    I just got back from downtown. Young fella at the bar told me that the shooter in Texas was waving an Antifa flag (his words, I say "anti-fascist"–it's not a fucking soft drink) and said he was starting some sort of holy war on November 4th which is when ALL Antifa groups (they have apparently replaced the millions chicomeximoozlims hiding just other side of the U.S./Mexican border) were going to launch an attack on MurKKKa and every other freedom lovin' nation (if there ARE any other nations that LOVE freedom as much as we do, here in the USA!USA!!YUUUGESA!!!) and so on.

    I asked him where he got that information. He replied that it was a "trusted source" not "Faqgnus"–and then googled it but, gosh, he couldn't find IT although he found references TO it from other "trusted sources". I paid my bill and left before I started shouting at him.

    This kid self-reports working 70+ hours a week, placing concrete. I believe him. I also believe that a fair amount of the work he does is off the books using sub-minimum wage or just at minimum wage workers on his days off and that he offers no benefits to those folks. But he also complains that the Messicans are fucking up our economy because they send hard currency back to Mexico.

    Additionally, he was telling the bartender that Europe is absolutely fucked because of immigrants and refugees. Pretty sure that he's never been there but I'm also pretty sure that he knows people who know people who knew people who used to go there and don't anymore, 'cuz reasons!

    Tomorrow is election day where I live. I expect to see something like a 30–40% turnout. I also expect to see the guy (Shawn Doyle, R, Oswego County lege) who's the subject of this news item:

    re-elected since he's running without any opposition.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Just thinking off the top of my head, here's a possible way to start limiting at least one form of senseless violence – especially concerning the easy to acquire, and very efficient killing machines: Guns:
    Stop referring to incidents where the killer causes the death of his/her victim, and then kills him/herself, from "Murder-Suicide" to "Suicide-Murder."

    Repeat, and repeat, and repeat:

    Maybe if we repeat this often enough, it may confuse some wannabe's to the point where they figure they'll kill themselves first- the easy part – and THEN try to kill their intended victim!

    OK, sure.
    It seems highly unlikely that that'll work.
    But remember, most of these disturbed individuals were never MENSA members, nor were they people looking to take revenge on the person should stole their Phi Beta Kappa ring.

    So, ya nevah know!

  • Once again THE ONION hits it out of the park with their oft repeated (only the location, a name or two, and numbers change) article:

    ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

    So I ask the question: Are we living in a country where some horrible problems have no solutions?

    In my opinion, yes. I blame many things that are part and parcel of the downward spiral the U.S. has experienced in my lifetime. Vietnam, Reagan, Television, Greed is Good, the list goes on. Sure, progress has been made in some areas but not enough to offset the primal urges of tribalism rampant today.

    So many thoughts. Sorry for the incoherence.

  • I married my first wife while she was in Law School so I got exposed to these sort of discussions (usually after several cocktails):

    Is the Supreme Court an accurate barometer of the will of the people? An accurate barometer of the will of the powerful? Is it a reflection of that instinct in the human to live up to expressed ideals of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, Mathew Chapter 6, (As an atheist I was usually the one who brought up Jesus' teachings), etc.? Is it a rejection of these ideals if they can be applied to those outside the "tribe"?

    Things have certainly changed since those innocent bullshit sessions in the 70's. Today property can commit a crime prior to due process, corporations are people that can't be put in jail, a well regulated militia is not actually in the second amendment, suppressing the votes of those outside your tribe is OK, money is speech ("Money doesn't talk, it screams."), and your religious beliefs override the constitution.

    What to do other than vote and donate a bit of time and money.

  • I don't understand this "guns protect us from government tyranny" stuff.

    Did you ever see the cops catch a hot car speeding? Their cars have radios and stuff and they work together and triangulate the guy.

    Do you think that the government is going to come after you armed with flintlocks? If they (not the police but the real state) wanted to tyrannize you they have lots of cool weapons and tactics that your 75 AR-15s and the 50 caliber sniper rifle that you picked up at the gun show aren't going to be able to stop.

    And if they really wanted to get you there's enough information on Facebook about you that they could round up your grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, sisters and brothers and their kids and send you to the gulag.

    I also don't understand how a good guy with a gun can come upon a mass killing and immediately know which one of the armed citizens is the bad guy.

  • One of the big frustrations I have is that progressive/liberal, and what used to be "middle of the road centrists" have had an over reliance on the judicial system to provide protection from our own worst natures. The judiciary that is in place and augmented by the current congress/executive branch will be extraordinarily conservative for the rest of my lifetime and then some.

    Conservatives have realized that with national congressional power, and local power at all levels that they can get anything they want out of the judicial system.

    The only hope I see is for progressive/liberal taking power in the legislative and executive branches at all levels. This means using the same tactics the conservatives have used.

    Time, conservatives have played the long game, It's taken from Reagan to now to come close to realizing all their dreams. Progressives/liberals need to take the long view as well starting at the local political level.

    Money, Bernie Sanders methods work OK for one candidate at the national level but cannot be effectively done in the myriad of local races that matter. If I gave my $50 to all the local candidates I would like to support I'd run out of my political donation budget money in one election cycle. I think that is true of almost all of the progressive/liberals. So we have to substitute voter enthusiasm.

    Voter enthusiasm. Conservatives have been able to motivate at the grass roots level through playing the long game of "be afraid, be very afraid". It's like the 10 cookie story. A union worker, a retiree, and a banker have a plate of 10 cookies. The banker grabs nine and turns to the retiree and says, "watch out, he's trying to take your cookie." Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

    Progressive/liberal voters are difficult to motivate at the grass roots level unless their lives are directly affected. I can't count the number of letters I get requesting money based on the "be very afraid of Trump" meme. No indication of what they'd do if elected or even what they've done in the past. I cannot donate based on that. Are you pro-choice? Do you support livable wages for everyone? Universal medical coverage? What have you done to meaningfully legislate or administer in a progressive/liberal manner?

    I think Sanders proved you can drum up enthusiasm by being outspoken about what you're for. Hopefully that will become the progressive/liberal playbook.

  • @Dave Dell

    Some liberals are really busy right now promoting the baptism and good works of St. "Single Payer is a Pony" Hillary via a variety of colorful hagiographic texts. I don't see them getting too aspirational without a serious overturn in the party. Basically, what I'm saying is that not only must Democrats work like Conservatives to win, grass-roots Progressives have to work like the Tea Party to remove the ideological centrists and other corporatist/pro-Capitalist Democratic trash.

  • jcdenton – Agreed. There will have to be a shake up. I, for one, have let local candidates (and all the congressional candidates and pacs that send me letters asking for money) know that they'd better be FOR something, primarily a woman's right to choose, but also a wide variety of other things before they will get my time and money. Note that I have a suspicion that they'd pay more attention if my donations were MUCH larger. Never get a reply to my inquiries. They all, apparently think not taking positions is the safest course. That's not really working for them in a lot of cases so I hope they figure out that losing in progressive issue oriented campaigns will at least get these issues on the table in hopes of future success. The long game again.

  • Nicely done Dave, jc (&Ed). Just in conversation elsewhere I in anger asked 'just what exactly does dem party affiliation have to offer this life-long non-affiliated voter who has generally "leaned left" since McGovern? In light of my treatment at their hands last year – we don't want your vote, we don't need your vote – and the ongoing Sanders is to the Clintonists what Clinton is to the Retards thing, why?

  • Am I the only person that is unsurprised that The Gun Debate has basically boiled down to "yes, the most familiar, the most trusted, the most valued men in your life are the most dangerous to you, stop talking about it" which is basically what our culture has been telling women literally forever?

    And a quick reminder that the vast majority of mass shooters have a history of violence against the women in their lives. They don't come out of nowhere. They spend years learning to enjoy terror and power and violence in the privacy and safety of their own homes before they get up the nerve to do it in public.

  • @Amy; I'm only shocked that the guy got time for fracturing his infant stepson's skull and beating the crap out of his wife. He was also cited on another day for beating the crap out of his dog. However, 2nd Amendment, give the man a gun! Or sixteen. Whatever he wants. Cuz FREEDUMB!

  • There are numerous accounts in the papers about how the USAF dropped the ball by not reporting the murdering scumbags prior felony conviction to the FBI but I'm pretty sure that regardless the USAF failure to perform due diligence, the state where the assault was covicted should also be held responsible for not notifying the FBI. Any thoughts?

    To those who are willing to throw the dems out on their ear:

    The GOP is chortling and rubbing their hands in glee. I voted a couple of hours ago. Several republicans ran unopposed–no dems and NO progressives, greens, workers party.

    I'll be thrilled to be wrong but I'm pretty sure that if you start at the level of even statewide races you will be disappointed. Work local, vote local.

  • @S.M. McBean; can you imagine how lively church will be when the 3-year-old child of one of the parishioners digs into Mommy's purse and comes up with loaded gun a-blazing? This happens all the time in WalMarts and Sams Clubs in red states.

    Also, yes, if everyone is armed and shooting each other, how do the authorities tell who the guilty one is?

  • @Ten Bears

    You kind of should vote for the Dems because your life isn't the only one on the line. Wet blanket as they are, they're not actively working to kill boatloads of poor, disabled, marginalized people (just passively allowing capitalism to do it for them). Centrist Dems don't have much to offer you, but they are a holding pattern until someone better can be brought in. So again, if you don't have a dog in the fight, voting for Dems because it protects marginalized people is the best way to deal with America's bullshit FYGM attitude.


    I don't think I made myself entirely clear. When regular Dems are running, vote for regular Dems straight ticket (and frankly running any Dem is better than running no Dem, etc). But if you want the party to change, if you want to kick the capitalist rot of the third way dirtbags to the curb, then you have to run and vote for progressive candidates.

  • @ jcdenton:

    I concur, with both of your comments. I'm an Independent and have always been. I vote "D" unless I see that a non-R (who isn't a teabaggist or other asshat) with decent ideas is running. Then, after I've found out whatever I can from both democrats AND non-democrats about that person, I do the thing that seems most likely to do the least harm.

    I have not had any confidence in seeing pols do the RIGHT thing since I was pretty young but I am almost always confident that I know the lesser of two evils and vote accordingly.

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