11 August 2018

Deadly Nihilism

Like many British-born naturalized American citizens, I am mystified by far right conservative Republicans and their gun fetish. The Supreme Court has ruled many times that Congress may pass reasonable limits and regulations governing firearms, but the hard right nonetheless screams that any and all of these are unconstitutional.

Yesterday, the New Yorker published a superb piece (link here) with the title "The Las Vegas Massacre Report and the Rise of Second Amendment Nihilism."

If you're not too familiar with the word nihilism, in the context here it could be the "doctrine of destruction for its own sake." In short, you must destroy simply because you can.

Other applications of this premise would be, for instance, "because you can deliberately drive your car into a brick wall, you must do that now." And, "because you can smash all of the windows in your house, you must do it now." And, of course, "because you can buy as many guns as you want until you run out of money, you must use those guns to their maximum lethality."

Consider the following excerpt from the article: "The [shooting commission summary] report takes on the supposedly baffling question of [the shooter] Paddock’s motive, and what comes through is that—unless some astonishing new connection or fact appears in the future -- his intention appears to have been purely nihilistic." Because he could perch in a window and shoot dozens of people within a few minutes, he must do that.

The writer really hits his stride here: "We have entered a new phase in the American horror -- that of Second Amendment nihilism. No effort will be made to stop gun massacres. This is, in practical terms, indistinguishable from arriving at a state where the point of having lethal weapons in private hands is to have massacres become ritual sacrifices to be greeted, as all ritual sacrifices are, with prayers. The massacres have become essential to the demonstration of the power of guns, a kind of tribute to the Moloch of absolute autonomy, to a fantasy view of 'liberty' that involves the destruction of another person."

In other words, we must allow shooters the freedom to fire their weapons into crowds of people, because that "freedom" is essential to American democracy. Once that allowance is removed, America ceases to be a free country.

This last short excerpt hits it out of the park: "Given the new state of the Supreme Court, and the nature of the Trump White House, Second Amendment nihilism may be the reigning position in the American gun debate for all the future we can see. Its participants can congratulate themselves on the triumph of their obsession. Its price is more needless death."

"Nihilists" are a great way to decribe many Trump voters. They don't care that he's corrupt and incompetent. They want to see the American system ripped apart, so what better person to do that than Donald Trump?

It's destruction for destruction's sake. Trump is the perfect instrument of destruction.

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