This is a country at war with itself because its ruling elite is too cowed, or too well-bribed, or too cowardly to recognize that there are people who are getting rich arming both sides, because the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, so you make sure that it's easy for the bad guys to get guns in order to make millions selling the guns to the good guys. This is a dynamic not unfamiliar to the people in countries where brushfire conflicts and civil wars are kept alive because distant people are making a buck off them. In Africa, war is made over diamonds and rare earths. In South America, war is made over cocaine. Here, for any number of reasons - because Adam Lanza went crazy or because Elliot Rodger couldn't get laid - and the only constant in all those wars is the fact somebody gets rich arming both sides.Go read it if you want to. It makes me sick. And angry.
It is a guerrilla war, fought on darkened streets against children in hoodies brandishing Skittles, against children in cars who play their music too loudly, against evanescent fears and the ghosts born of ancient prejudice and cultivated dread. Its battles are sudden but, sadly, no longer surprising. The whole country is the battleground now because cynical people have made it so. Our movie theaters are our Wheatfields, our Peach Orchards, or our Bloody Lanes. A quiet college campus is the Hornet's Nest. An elementary school is Cemetery Ridge. Those are the killing zones. The enemy, we are told, is everywhere, and nowhere. This is the country that Wayne LaPierre, that malignant profiteer, talks about when he says, as he did at a conservative conference last spring:
Wayne LaPierre gets paid when his masters sell guns to the bad guys. Wayne LaPierre gets paid when his masters sell guns to the good guys because of the guns he's already arranged to sell to the bad guys. Wayne LaPierre is the strange white man in the Congo who knows where he can get you some AK's. He's the shadowy fellow in the coffee shop in Kabul who knows where RPG's can be had, cheap. He's the well-dressed, silken-voiced operator, sipping his tea on a cool and breezy veranda outside of Bogota, who smiles at you and shows you on the map where you can pick up your order, because it is time once again for you to make war and him to make money. His look is the smooth and shiny black of the vulture's feathers. He feasts on the carrion of nations.Shorter: It's always about the Benjamins.
So that is Memorial Day this year, in a country in which its citizens are encouraged to make war on each other because not enough people care enough to stop it. There are more flowers in more places and there is no peace in sight, because we have chosen as a country to slake our appetite for it with blood. The dead are not honored in this war. Only the instrumentality of their murder is, god help us all.
I like guns. I own guns. Shooting is a skill I learned in the Marine Corps. Shooting is fun. I pray to all the goddam gods that I never have to use one against another human being.