Our nation is in shambles. When we have no laws to prevent nineteen elementary school students from being riddled with bullets from a military assault weapon that renders the bodies unidentifiable, when a nation gets to this point in its history we are in a state of emergency. DNA samples of the mutilated bullet riddled bodies of the children were needed to identify which tissue belong to which mother and father. That is beyond mass murder, call it what it is— genocide.
Citizenship in the United States is infected with toxic individualism. We can see the infection— the illness has become institutionalized in our collective character. Bullying at school, isolated and online, lack of parental supervision, a complex stew of unfiltered content a lonely and confused young person struggles to sort through without context.
Signs of the malignancy— democracy’s fragility has been laid bare. Financial system regulators looking the other way while reckless bankers collapsed the financial system, murderous cops, sexual assault of children, Boy Scout leaders’ misconduct— the list is long the, the predators prowl upon the innocent.
Toxic individualism begins by disengaging— psychological self-isolation is the first step. The endemic pathology requires alienation. You feel like you don’t belong, and these other’s, the upstarts are taking away what is rightfully yours. The anger toward the other is the gateway, permission to do what is necessary to take back your self-esteem and your freedom. The toxicity isn’t absolute, the behavior in many forms is mild, the conduct steals the fabric of nation’s peace, its racialized complicity empowers, there are more extreme versions of this emptiness and illness.
Trolls on social media sites have been platformed where once they were marginalized. The American Nazi Party’s marching through Chicago was inconsequential, their message incoherent, their ability to recruit new members, to argue, to persuade, manipulating the mainstream media was ineffective. Decades ago, there was a consensus that our institutions would guard against such hate groups being amplified.
Whole ideologically driven disinformation portals riddle the internet. There are radical rightwing conservative broadcast networks that run full-time disinformation operations (Fox and Sinclair). After Putin invaded Ukraine the FCC was barely able to bring itself to shutdown Russian Television— a Russian propaganda outlet should never had been granted a license in the first place. What passes for mainstream broadcasting are executive producers under pressure from their corporate owners to backoff overt criticism of its wealthy advertisers. Generous funding by military industrial corporations on Sunday morning political talk shows guarantees a roster of sympathizers will be booked to discuss the issues of the day while avoiding overt criticism of either their enterprises or special interests. To be accurate proving such pressure exists remains circumstantial, the C-suite executives like organized crime boss operations remain all wink-wink, nudge-nudge, preserving plausible deniability. Again, our nation’s executives in many instances have shut off their moral compass.
In and of itself perhaps picking partisan supporters as guests by way of threatening to fire your executive producers isn’t illegal, perhaps it isn’t even immoral, perhaps it is more accurately described as a desecration of our civic soul. Free and fair elections are for suckers. Equal protection under the law is for billionaires. The death penalty is for those people, not your people.
Toxic individualism is rooted in doing your own thing. You do your thing, and you don’t permit others to do theirs. Christian prayer is fine, worship at the synagogue is not. White nationalists don’t send synagogues prayers the most toxic of this kind send pipe bombs.
It is Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Steven Kerr that have stepped up to the podium. The lack of leadership by elected leaders intimidated by their constituents has stood politics on its head, we are trapped in a tyranny manifest by a flaw in the mechanics of our representative democracy. There are two senators representing Wyoming’s population of 580,384 citizens, California’s 40 million citizens get two. The two conservatives from Wyoming are part of the voting block from the red states and it is this coalition that has brought the nation to a gut wrenching halt.
The Republican minority use of the filibuster halts any legislation. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas answers to nobody, there is no ethics panel to review anything a justice may or may not do short of impeachment, and there is no chance a red state supported justice is going to be held accountable and impeached. Ginni Thomas should be hauled before a Grand Jury immediately to account her seditious conduct.
Republicans bound by party over country, they twice refused to convict the leader of their own party for crimes he was proven guilty of. They failed to do their duty, they abdicated, their oath of office was ignored, unable to explain themselves they change the subject, their best propagandists respond with disinformation.
Billy Graham Junior cheers Russia’s strength while putting down our President as weak. Fake evangelist Jerry Falwell Junior goes to Florida to spend lost weekends in Miami Beach watching while his wife has intercourse with their cabana boy.
The leading cause of death among American schoolchildren is by bullets from guns. Children are terrified. This last year dedicated to running a fair and open school board angry constituents were tolerated while they yelled at their local school boards about vaccinations, masks and course curriculum concerns. Beto O’Rourke dares to confront his own Texas governor over his permissive gun culture legislation and he’s immediately shutdown by the mayor of Uvalde telling the candidate— “You are out of line…” The overweight mayor is fiercely anti-immigrant and a build the wall advocate. He is also a white mayor with a Hispanic population that outnumbers whites by 80%. Why would that be?
Toxic individualism in a world this complicated, this populated when what is needed is healthy cooperation, a sense of duty to country, willingness to sacrifice for the common good, these are the qualities of character needed now.
The Republican Party is done with democracy, they are hell bent on seizing and holding onto power. Seventy percent of the country remains stunned and in denial, we are sleepwalking into a rude awakening. The World War II Japanese internment camps are likely to be revisited. Journalists, political activists, and environmentalists are all likely to be attacked, jailed and persecuted. If you go along to get along, you’ll do alright, until you are not doing alright, until they come for your business, your daughter, your vote. Autocrats always behave the same way and while they are seizing power they try to convince their supporters that it is only the other that they will target.
Recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site for the extraordinary ruins left there by our first people of North America some 1200 years ago Chaco Canyon is a true treasure to all of humanity. Toxic individualism drove some morally deficient visitor to blast holes with a gun into ancient rock art that dates to 8000 years before present. Desecrating the rock art of our first people, denying future generations the opportunity to see these artifacts as they are and have been for the last many thousands of years brings into focus how broken so many of our citizens are, how terribly deluded, destructive and dangerous they are to the human project. Democracy is at risk, civilization is threatened, and likely it is a minority of detached males in our world that have literally put an assault weapon to the world’s head.
The children of Uvalde deserve to be remembered for being the slaughtered innocence that has finally forced America to come to its senses and put a halt to such madness. It is time for the killing of our children to stop. America’s soul is shattered, it is up all of us that still know right from wrong to step up and put our nation back on the civilized path.