But so is the cultural and right-wing media obsession with guns
In 2008, during his rough and tumble presidential primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama got into some trouble at a fundraising event when he made these comments about working-class voters:
“They get bitter; they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Clinton, of course, nailed him for the comment, hoping to resurrect her campaign. And Republicans were all over him as well, but that’s no surprise. To them and Clinton at the time, it was a way to further the narrative that Obama was an out-of-touch elitist.
But rather than break down the quote word for word, which by the way is 100% accurate, for purposes of this post and the recent tragedies in the news, let’s focus on these four words: they cling to their guns.
Indeed they do. Some estimates put the entire quantity of guns Americans own at upwards of 350 million, which means there are several million more guns than if each American owned a gun per person. And yes, the mass shootings we keep experiencing, including the most recent in Atlanta and Boulder, are, without a doubt, a uniquely American phenomenon in the modern world.
We love our damn guns in this country. And it seems as though there’s a segment of society who think any possible attempt to regulate (isn’t that word in the Constitution?) their firearms is nothing but a plot by Democrats to seize them all. When a Democrat is elected, gun and ammunition sales skyrocket. Hell, soon we may get to 400 million in circulation. When will we get to 500 million? 600? Surely we’ll get there soon enough.
But while the mass shootings are certainly uniquely American, so is the obsession with guns in general and the cultural and political divide that drives it all. And nothing epitomizes the fixation more than how the right-wing echo chamber reports on gun violence. Once again, Fox News is leading the way in dividing, misleading, and gas-lighting the country.
As is usually the case, when it came to reporting on the Boulder shooting, you may not have gotten an accurate picture of what was happening depending on what news you were watching. When the news broke, MSNBC and CNN were reporting on the shooting non-stop. When law enforcement finally had a news conference in the early evening to update what happened, both of those networks carried it live.
Fox, on the other hand, had more important things to cover. Even after learning that ten people lost their lives, Laura Ingraham interviewed someone about the “farce” of social distancing. Later, Tucker Carlson talked about the beginning of the end for girls’ sports and Miami’s recent spring break melee. Talk about “Breaking News,” huh?
At the top of the hour after the news conference, Fox did do a quick update on the shooting, saying their thoughts and prayers were with the victims and would keep “monitoring” the situation as more facts became known.
Let’s face it. Fox didn’t want to cover the event because it goes against their far-right narrative; owning a gun is a God-given right. And it doesn’t play to their base of viewers either. It’s far better they change the subject to Democrats wanting to confiscate your guns rather than dig deep into what’s causing the mass shootings in the first place: There are too many freaking guns in America, and it’s too damn easy to buy one.
Time and again, we end up in the same place. Democrats in Congress demand we do something, anything, to try and reduce gun violence. Republicans say Democrats are playing politics and want to take your guns. Fox News and other outlets like them are more than happy to perpetuate that narrative.
In a sense, it’s the culture that drives Fox, and Fox helps drive the culture. It’s a symbiotic relationship we’ve seen throughout the pandemic as well. As I wrote in a previous piece, it’s become a toxic mix that has made America an even more dangerous place to live.
While the hosts on Fox regularly downplay the pandemic and wearing masks, they do not practice what they preach. Most, if not all, broadcast remotely and have been told it would be that way until September.
They tell their viewers Dr. Fauci is nothing but an incompetent scientist. They bring on quacks like Dr. “herd immunity” Scott Atlas to spread disinformation and conspiracy theories. But in the meantime, the hosts isolate themselves from the public and watch as those very same viewers refuse to wear masks and spread Covid throughout the communities in which they live.It’s shameful. Over half a million dead from COVID, thousands of others dead from guns every year, and Fox doesn’t give a crap about any of them. It’s as if the network itself is a death cult. Harsh? Yes, but what else are we left to determine?
It would be a dereliction in duty not to mention the other entity that’s become an even more lethal and existential threat than Fox News or the radical gun culture in America: The Republican Party. They’re worse because they control what policies are passed in Congress — or even worse — policies that are not.
Complete obstruction is all they have left these days. The only way any common-sense legislation on gun safety gets passed is if the Democrats develop a steel spine and do away with the filibuster. How many of us are skeptical that will happen?
Something may get done, but none of us should hold our breath. The Republican Party, Fox News, and the gun nuts of America will stand in the way of anything substantial. Not even a limited background check initiative stands much of a chance.
The real question all of us need to ask, though, is why? Why are they preventing lives from being saved by passing common-sense gun safety laws? Why the dangerous stance on vaccines, masks, and social distancing, all of which will help us get through this nightmare that’s plagued our society over the past year?
The complete disregard for human life is the hallmark of a death cult. Obama was right nearly 13 years ago when he said working-class voters cling to their guns. What’s even worse is that they’re more than willing to sacrifice lives to amass an armada of weapons even dictators like Hitler and Stalin would envy.
You’re damn right mass shootings are uniquely American. But so is the death cult, whose membership grew exponentially during the former guy’s term. What are we going to do about them?