, 17 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I suppose since everyone else has an opinion about the ghastly violence in America, I'll express mine, too. 1) The term "gun violence" should be retired or reserved for jealous husbands who shoot their wives. What happened in El Paso is terrorism, or an insurgency.
I was thinking last night about the parallels between this phenomenon and late Czarist Russia. The cradle of modern terrorism. "Comprehensive background checks" are not going to put a dent in this problem.
Even if we could get half of the 300 million+ guns in America out of civilian hands, there would still be 150 million guns. And "getting half of them off the streets" is completely unrealistic. We don't have enough civic trust for that.
The more divided the country, the harder it will be to convince people to surrender their weapons. Anyway, ideologically motivated terrorists will quickly graduate to IEDs. And a very good portion of these shooters do seem ideologically motivated, as opposed to "mentally ill."
Many people have pointed out the similarities between 19th century anarchist terrorism and al-Qaeda style jihadism--see: tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.108…. What we're seeing now fits right into the same pattern.
The (very extensive) historic literature on 19th century anarchist terrorism can help us think about what's going on now and what questions we need to ask and answer before we can develop a policy response that might work. edoc.unibas.ch/17637/1/JGO%20…
Routine incantations of the words "white supremacists" and "federal background checks" don't have a hope in hell of working. We need to think in counterinsurgency terms.
But because this is happening in America, we can't employ any of the tools we've developed to counter insurgencies. (And the record shows we're not terrific at countering them even when we're liberated from any constitutional constraint.)
The First Amendment prevents us from going after their Internet networks (like 8chan) the way we did ISIS's communication and propaganda networks. It also prevents us from forbidding the media to report on these events--even though that would stop them.
Terrorism makes no sense unless it's a spectacle. If we could ban the media from reporting on these massacres and turning every one of them into a lurid, ritualized mass spectacle, the shootings would stop: Does anyone doubt that?
But obviously, we can't defend an open society by turning it into a closed on. So those obvious strategies aren't available to us.
The czars were almost forced to their knees by this kind of violence. In the end, they put it down, but they did so by an application of utterly ruthless force -- all in vain, of course.
I don't know what the solution is. I just know what it isn't: it isn't "closing the gun show loophole," and it isn't getting Trump out of office: He's a symptom, not a cause, and this will continue after he's gone.
(And if the Russian example is the right analogy, Democrats and other politicians who helped to usher him out of power will then become targets for assassination.)
In short: We've got a much bigger, more depressing problem on our hands than most of the opinion-piece writers seem to realize.
The only good news is that these scum are highly unlikely to get beyond killing a few hundred people at once, tops. They won't get their hands on chemical weapons or barrel bombs. Statistically, the vast majority of Americans will be fine.
But this will probably go on for decades.
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