Back to America

A quick glance at the recent works and I see it has been some few months since I really looked at anything outside of the EU. Now of all times would be ideal to do so, with so much going on. Electoral concerns in Venezuela, the North Korean problem, Pervez Musharraf’s return to Pakistan… all will take second place to the sudden burst of activity coming out of nowhere else other than the illustrious United States of America.

No need for the build, I think we all know what might be touched upon. The Boston Marathon bombing was a shock and a tragedy, but in my opinion a relatively muted one. I’m not trying to write down the deaths of three people, including a young boy, but it says a huge deal about how far the world has come since 9/11 that the reaction was essentially measured. Perhaps I could be watching a bit more Fox News, but I’ve not heard any blood-curdling screams for revenge against Muslims, or any suggestions that this is entirely Obama’s fault.

Scale no doubt plays a role. The casualties have not remotely been as near to the tolls of a number of appalling attacks that have taken place in Afghanistan and Iraq recently, but who the hell cares about those dust bowls? Hopefully lots of people actually, although the disproportionate attention given to Boston in light of these other incidents suggests that isn’t the case. This fine article by Assed Baig for The Huffington Post does not only discuss this, but it’s also by far the best article I’ve read on that otherwise general repository for journalistic effluvium.

Terrible website. But I digress. The bombings were awful. Wherever such an event takes place it always is awful but clearly we’ve grown somewhat resilient to them. Whether for better or worse we have become used to a climate in which these things happen occasionally and I imagine it would take a considerably bigger bang and a higher body count to seriously start ruffling international feathers. And potentially a different target, which leads us onto the next point.

The question of who actually was responsible has also been surprisingly muted, where in this situation I would not unreasonably anticipate a brain-achingly tiresome degree of speculation. So I’d better speculate a bit now. The target suggests to my keenly honed eye for security and counter-terrorism, honed so keenly at the Institute For Anyone With A Brain Is Entitled To An Opinion, is that the culprits are either some old fashioned McVeigh anti-establishment types or an extremely localised Islamic fundamentalist group.

International terrorism has a reasonably well-defined modus operandi and a slightly niche sporting event doesn’t fit the bill. Public transport, government or financial infrastructure could have surely made for a more potent outcome in terms of physical and human damage, not to mention in a more populous and significant area than Boston. Deliciously speculative indeed, but I would have to throw my hat into the former category. It almost feels silly and xenophobic to even mention the radical Muslims these days, given how distant that fight seems to have become.

However, throw together a second term for Obama and attempts at gun control (both deeply unpopular with a hard right wing), coupled with a still intensely iffy (the professional term) economy, and I see a cocktail ripe for backwoods extremism. Oh, and add a dose of The March of the Gays, also known as a surge in political backing for LGBT rights, and we’re positively on the verge of a conflagration. In all honestly I’m surprised there hasn’t been domestic mutiny sooner.

It’s either a testament to the strong fabric of American society or the vast internal security apparatus, established by current hermit George W. Bush, that this stands out as a lone incident in recent years. Unless, that is, you were to include every casual school or public shooting as an act of domestic terrorism. And why wouldn’t you? Terrorism doesn’t demand a central organisation and political motivation, just acts of terror.

This is a hugely pertinent point, because the almost criminally negligent US Senate, or rather the truly corrupt Republican wing of that body, have just shot down the most limited attempt at imposing sanity to US gun regulation. Background checks? Nope. Assault weapons ban? Nope. It is corruption, is it not, when an interest group actively manipulates the actions of legislators for mutual gain? Just checking. The closest thing resembling a Republican moral apparently died before I started paying attention.

The reason I try and link these shootings to terrorism is because it is potentially a pathway to successful measures in this horribly troubled battle. If you weren’t aware, the IRA was for decades funded by wealthy east coast American-Irish fraternities, who kept pouring funds back into the homeland as they held to an outdated anti-Anglo sentiment that was as disingenuous as the notion any of these Yanks really were Irish.

IRA funding from the USA dried up almost overnight after 9/11 as Americans, particularly New Yorkers, were adequately reminded of what terrorism was. Suddenly the previously heroic actions of the IRA took on a hugely unsavoury tone. This is what needs to happen in the gun debate. The core argument needs to move well away from this twisted 2nd Amendment defence and towards the idea that controls will prevent terrorism. The anti-government paranoids will always have their gripes but make no mistake. A psychotic American with a gun is potentially as much a terrorist as a psychotic Muslim with a bomb.

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