Deadly Serious

James Kunstler

March 18, 2019

The selfie-video made by New Zealand shooter Brent Tarrant shows the world once again how shockingly banal an act of mass homicide can be. He went through the various chambers of two mosques in suburban Christchurch exterminating unarmed, helpless worshippers as if they were mere points to be racked up in a video game. They had no personalities or histories. They were just targets. And when they moaned or moved, he shot them again to make sure they were out of the game. The shooter was arrested and lives on in police custody.

He went about his task with exactly the sort of paramilitary efficiency that is portrayed so admiringly in the Mission Impossible or Fast and Furious movies, all business, no emotion. The manifesto he left on the Internet shows his clear and detailed motive for what he didn’t hesitate to label as “a terrorist attack.” He was especially interested in provoking a fresh debate over the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution in the USA, in the hopes of provoking a civil war that would break-up the nation into warring regions divided by race. He calls himself “an eco-nationalist” because he considers overpopulation the leading threat to the planet and non-Europeans to be the most fecund and therefore responsible for the problem. He will go on trial and he says he intends to plead innocent. You’d better take him seriously.

At least half the political class in the USA doesn’t take the immigration issue seriously, except as a gambit for what they think is political advantage. The Left is doing everything possible to confound the issue and muddle it with litigation at every level, from local law enforcement to congress, starting with the longstanding effort to garble the definitions of legal versus illegal immigration. The “conservative” Right doesn’t dare call them on it, out of fear of losing Hispanic votes. So, it is left to the awkward, inflammatory figure of Mr. Trump to demand clarification about what official policy will be, including the enforcement of existing laws, and he has been reviled for it all along the way. He’s not a consensus-builder, to put it mildly.

Last week, coincidental with the New Zealand mosque massacre, Mr. Trump said the following:

     “You know, the left plays a tougher game. It’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. O.K.? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

As usual, his syntax is disastrous as well as his habit of placing himself at the center of every issue. But, also as usual with Mr. Trump, and because of his filter-less tongue, he lays out matters that should be extremely troubling to all Americans: that the land is full of men with tremendous potential for violence — and most particularly men with military and paramilitary training in killing and warfare, who have, so far, barely expressed in action their discontent with the tactics of their adversaries on the Left. This Pandora’s box of calamity includes the Left’s recent campaign to denigrate men as toxic and without value, especially white men wearing their scarlet letter “P” for privilege.

The Left had better sober up and join an intelligible good faith debate about US immigration policy and the enforcement of existing laws or this will lead to exactly what Brent Tarrant laid out and what Mr. Trump maladroitly hinted at. Instead, of course, we will more likely commence another bootless campaign over guns. Here are some plain facts about that. There are already enough firearms of every sort loose in this land to commence hot civil warfare and they will not be surrendered by their owners. The horses are out of the barn on that one, even if sales of military-style weapons are outlawed. Any effort to confiscate them from people already possessing them will only provoke more overt antagonism between the two poles of American politics — and would probably lead to exactly the sort of violence that sober observers discern on the horizon.

Our battered American common culture and its expression in political consensus ought to start with the foundation of the social contract: the agreement to not slaughter each other. That is, at least, the one principle that ought to stand on its own as self-evident, without any need for equivocation via “diversity” arguments. The Left is playing with fire on this with its dishonest, bad faith approach to debating the immigration question, and the gun debate will only provide a distraction from it.

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