The acute existential question surrounding the mass murder on the Las Vegas strip this week…no, wait, is it even an existential question anymore? Is it even acute?
No, ladies and gentlemen, the biggest loss in all of this pandemonium and innocent blood lost is the collective national loss of our soul. We are not convulsed. We are not paralyzed by a deeply internalized sense of horror that keeps us from sleeping for days.
Not that we don’t have the resources necessary for such a reaction. The all-news cable networks can’t wait to outdo each other with video footage they disingenuously warn us might be offensive.
We are glued wide-eyed to the tube. For a couple of days this is almost a bigger deal than the collective carnage we call football. Does anyone deny any more that football is mashing the brains of the young men we’re tracking so assiduously in our fantasy leagues?
Who does, who cares? We sit, we cheer, we rah-rah. We bust our guts with Cheetos. Someday all this may kill us, but if it’s not me on that football field right now (damn it!), what’s the big deal?
No, people, the dominant influences in our society have become really, really ugly and if you don’t like reading this, then turn the page. Someday someone may have the fortitude to deal with it. Or maybe not.
It’s a big world out there, and there are plenty of cultures on this planet who may be much better equipped by now to pick up the pieces of this shattered mess we’ve created.
Stepping back to look, here’s the common thread: We’re living an orgy of stupid, angry white male entitlement.
The man on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay was not a Muslim, but a stupid, angry white male feeling entitled to own the fates of all those little people scrambling around below him.
The man who instructed the White House spokesman the very next morning to say “this is not the time to talk about gun control,” I’ll bet I can describe him the same way.
That goes for the national leadership of the National Rifle Association. All stupid, angry white men, demented Charlton Hestons gripping instruments of death.
Then there are those pathetic whimpering “rank and file” tools whining, “You want to take my guns away.” Yes, I do! Yes I want to take away your guns, and you don’t need me to explain to you why. The nation has gone mad propitiating the infantile tantrums of stupid, angry white men who want their guns.
Who else is tired of hearing appeasing politicians comfort stupid, angry white men by saying, “No, no, we don’t want to take away your guns?” Yes, we do. I do at least. Nothing is going to change until society bucks up the courage to insist that yes, we are taking away your stupid guns, stupid man.
Now, for my money, this Las Vegas murderer has all the trappings of a classically brainwashed “Manchurian candidate.” But if that’s the case, then what good does knowing about it do unless there’s a sufficient commitment to exact justice?
The man’s real evil resided in his sense of entitlement to do what he did, no different, really, than a coach’s entitlement to command his players stand and not kneel at the playing of the national anthem without any appreciation of nuance.
Granted, stupid, angry white men have been getting countless among us murdered for centuries.
Angry slave owners saw to the murder of over a half-million of us in our Civil War. In-laws, all related to Queen Victoria, oversaw the slaughter of 35 million in World War I. Even more were lost in World War II after the “long weekend” between those wars. Man’s inhumanity to man, even in the most allegedly civilized corners of this globe, knows no bounds.
But now, I am not a cynic nor a nihilist. Such are my enemies. I stand, if anything, in the ranks of those prophetic voices who call for repentance in the shadow of a cosmic creator. You, stupid white males, are destined for the scrap heap of history, with fates no better than this Las Vegas killer.
We all have to resolve to do better.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected].