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1/ I have some things to say about the Texas shooting. It’s gonna piss some people off, and that’s too bad. It needs to be said. (thread)
2/ I served in the Army. I was trained as an infantryman. A grunt. That’s about as nuts-and-bolts as it gets in the military.
3/ Infantry training is ongoing. Infantry units train constantly. All the time. It’s always something. To the point of being monotonous.
4/ If we weren’t at the firing range, we were doing hands-on tactical training. If not tactical, then classroom prep. Always. Something.
5/ Thousands of hours of training and learning how to kill other people. I am a trained killer. That’s what an infantryman does. They kill.
6/ Other soldiers will laugh this off. “Okay, killer.” But they know I’m right. Deep down, that’s your purpose as an infantryman: to kill.
7/ It starts early. Basic training is psychological. You’re supposed to get comfortable with killing. You’re prepared to face this reality.
8/ In my barracks at basic training, there was a giant mural of a skull-and-crossbones on the floor. Our official nickname: “Death Dealers”.
9/ We were taught call-and-response chants. Ex: “What makes the grass grow?” “Blood, blood, blood makes the grass grow!”
10/ So many drills have the cry “Kill!” in them. I’m surprised we weren’t required to shout it after eating a meal. Maybe we were. I forget.
11/ And it is what it is. I’m not here to tell you military training is bad. I am not a pacifist. Evil threats exist. Someone has to kill.
12/ And because someone has to kill and the killing falls to the military, psychological training like that makes killing easier.
13/ That’s a cold thought, and many will disagree with it. Not the point. The point: taking accountability of it in the civilian world.
14/ Thousands of hours of learning how to kill other human beings. Day after day, month after month, year after year. Rewiring.
15/ I’m a flaming liberal. I’m a gun owner but don’t collect them. My idea of “fun” is singing karaoke in a tiara, not a day shooting guns.
16/ But there is no doubt in my mind that, if needed, I could kill other human beings efficiently. Tactically. Without hesitation.
17/ I haven’t worn a uniform in almost six years, but it would be like riding a bike. It’s ingrained. I doubt it’ll ever go away.
18/ That’s the point of military training: muscle memory, acting without hesitation, resorting to a part of your brain on autopilot.
19/ In April 2009, Homeland Security released a report warning of the recruitment of veterans by radical groups: https://fas.org/irp/eprint/rightwing.pdf
20/ Noted as catalysts for a heightened national security risk were basically what we’ve seen come to fruition eight years later:
21/ Predictably, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was derided as disrespecting the troops. She was forced to issue several apologies.
22/ Never mind that Napolitano had only ever demonstrated the utmost respect for women and men in uniform.
23/ Never mind that a 2008 FBI report identified 203 military veterans in white supremacist terrorist groups: https://cryptome.org/spy-whites.pdf
24/ Never mind Charlottesville and the mix of military vets among the little boys playing soldier:
25/ Never mind that a Marine killed JFK or that an Army infantryman was behind the Oklahoma City Bombing.
26/ Or the higher rate of violence against women (in this case: IPV) among Active Duty military and veterans versus civilians:
27/ Or that the higher rate of IPV in the military is linked to PTSD and traumatic brain injuries: https://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/publications/esp/partner_violence-REPORT.pdf
28/ Or—and this is important—the well-established relationship between mass shootings and violence against women.
29/ A great piece on that subject by @rtraister can be found here: https://www.thecut.com/2016/07/mass-killers-terrorism-domestic-violence.html
30/ Surely, that link between violence against women and subsequent mass shootings must count as evidence of terrorism.
31/ This is how the FBI defines domestic terrorism: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/terrorism
32/ Not sure why a mass shooting inspired by hatred of women doesn’t qualify as terrorism… unless, maybe, we don’t respect women as people?
33/ Not exactly the most comfortable truth in the national discourse, particularly in a sea of “as a father of daughters” statements.
34/ The other side of that coin is white maleness. A political system and media dominated by white men isn’t eager to be self-reflective.
35/ Why would I examine a system of white supremacy that gives me unearned benefits and being forced to recognize they’re unearned?
36/ Why would I admit, despite all evidence, that my white maleness protects me from all sorts of threats and accountability? Scary stuff.
37/ A brown “Muslim” man killing several with a vehicle is terrorism, but a white male killing 27 w/ a gun out of sexist rage? “Lone wolf.”
38/ All these are connected: white male entitlement, mental illness, racism, sexism, violence against women, terrorism. Rinse, repeat.
39/ White men see a loss of power, feel victimized, have that entitlement radicalized through propaganda, and commit acts of terrorism.
40/ But because they’re white and not shouting “Allahu Akbar”, they’re dismissed as "nuts", or more charitably: “nice guys gone wrong.”
41/ To admit to “terrorism” by ordinary white men would require asking deeper questions of ourselves, especially those of us in power.
42/ To admit to “terrorism” by military veterans would require a vast reworking of our systems of recruitment, training, and mental health.
43/ Instead, we grant an access of powerful weaponry to those most trained to use it and most likely to do so in brutal acts of terrorism.
44/ An irony of all this is that though we fall back solely on the excuse of “mental health” to wave away acts of terrorism by white men…
45/ …we neither 1) attempt to comprehensively address mental health in our country nor 2) effectively restrict access to weapons due to it.
46/ If your takeaway from ANY of this = a hatred of white men, the military or guns, then you’re a moron who lacks critical thinking skills.
47/ And if your takeaway is a bizarre, insecure notion that I’m putting women and folks of color on a pedestal, that also makes you a moron.
48/ I'm a white male, and I have no reason to hate that about myself. I love my country. I'm proud of my military service. I'm a gun owner.
49/ And even I can see there are deep, deep issues here we’re ignoring. And they’re not going away. This will happen again and again.
50/ We need to stop pretending that military service is the grand seal of moral rightness. It’s not. We can be grateful w/o being stupid.
51/ We need to stop allowing patriotism to be co-opted by white supremacists preaching a nationalist agenda driven by fear and hatred.
52/ We need to call terrorism in this country for what it is and recognize how white men are often radicalized.
53/ We need to recognize the link between misogynist power structures, violence against women, and white male terrorism.
54/ We need to respect the 2nd Amendment by restricting access to guns from those who don’t (or can’t) respect gun ownership.
55/ Legally owning and using a gun in this country should be harder than legally owning and using a car. Why is it the exact opposite?
56/ Why am I bio-scanned every time I fly, but it’s totally fine in many states if I waltz down the street open-carrying a powerful firearm?
57/ Why am I more likely to be killed by a white male terrorist with a gun in this country than a brown terrorist who claims to be “Muslim”?
58/ We should all want answers to these questions and elected officials with the courage to address them. We should want that NOW.
59/ I’m tired of the carnage, and I want to believe we’re better than this. Prove to me, prove it to yourself, that we are. /thread
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