MY SISTER is in Dallas at the moment. She WhatsApps to say that it’s not all stetsons and steers. I wouldn’t know, having ever only seen it on the telly when it was shiny skyscrapers and melodramatic family breakfasts on windswept verandahs with JR and Sue Ellen.
(Younger readers, you may have to google that, unless you’ve been watching the repeats on Channel 5.)
Anyway, she says there is more to Dallas than barbeques, oil barons, and the death penalty — there are vegan cafes and gay wedding venues and you can opt for fruit with your sandwich instead of chips.
She has not yet woken to the news of the five dead cops, shot in retaliation for the shooting dead of various black men and boys elsewhere for minor traffic infringements, or carrying cans of soft drink home from the shop.
Guns — America’s lethal, overwhelming blindspot. Every country has a collective blindspot — in Ireland, it’s drink, in the UK, it’s their indestructible class system (and just about everything else imaginable at the moment, to the point of bleakest comedy, but let’s not go there).
America’s relationship with guns is one so cognitively dissonant, so all out fruit-loop looney-tunes batshit bonkers, that it threatens to render apart the entire concept of America as a valid and functional society, rather than some trigger-unhappy rogue state.
How can it not?
How can we take seriously a nation into whose constitution is still written the massively outdated right to bear arms, as though its citizens were still living in cabins fending off bears?
How can we process the American idea of “safety”? Last year, there were 13,286 gun deaths in the US, and 26,819 injuries. It’s all about self protection. Guns, they insist, make people safer.
Eddie Izzard points out the inherent flaws of this logic: “The National Rifle Association says that guns don’t kill people, people do. But I think the gun helps, you know? I think just standing there going ‘BANG!’ — that’s not going to kill too many people, is it?”
Racism remains a filthy smear on American society, so ingrained that it’s perceived almost as we perceive the weather — something over which we have little control.
There may be a black president in the White House, but America has never sorted out its festering racial divide, its racist cops, its racist media.
How many more black names must be added to the list of the dead, alongside the words “no conviction”?
There will always be racist cops, and crazyass white supremacists ‘protecting’ the public highway from black kids in hoodies.
There will always be gangsters and criminals and idiots. There will always be unhinged people with grudges against their primary school.
The trick is to not allow these people — any people — access to assault rifles. No more bang-bang-you’re-dead. Are you not disgusted yet by your own body count, America?
America should be disgusted by gun culture blindspot
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