October 3, 2017
On Sunday night, a 64-year old white male named Stephen Paddock opened fire at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The current human wreckage stands at 59 people dead and another 527 injured. We know that Paddock was a retired accountant with no criminal record, a licensed pilot, and pictures of him at an anti-Trump rally suggest he was not a right-wing fascist. There is no known motive for what the media is universally labeling “the worst mass shooting in American history.”
Louis Eagle Warrior writes:
“The Vegas shooting with 59 killed the worst mass murder on this soil??? I don’t think so.
Ever heard of Wounded Knee? The Sand Creek Massacre? 100 Million Indians [emphasis added] representing over 500 independent Nations slaughtered. Male, female, young and old, children, babies.
How about were it not for that worst human holocaust in history which resulted in homes destroyed, lands stolen, cultures annihilated, there would be no violent, hypocritical abomination known to the world as the USA!!!”
Ward Churchill calls this condition, “semantic subterfuge” – where the imperialist government’s propaganda is so effective in creating an illusion that the exact opposite of reality is what is held to be true by the oblivious indoctrinated masses. It applies to the genocide of Native Americans, it applies to the treatment of nonhuman animals, and it applies, in general, to a distinctly-skewed American worldview. And this condition is epitomized by this shooting in Las Vegas.
As Louis Eagle Warrior articulates, the USA was founded on violence — the rape, pillaging, and genocide of an entire culture. But we excuse that violence. In fact, we gave a savage name Christopher Columbus a holiday and each year we celebrate his murderous rampage. We used Afghanistan as a proxy to fight a 10-year war with the Soviet Union and, when that enemy finally fell, we left warlords armed with American weaponry to resume life in their war-torn country; we nurtured the inception of Al-Qaeda — its present incarnation known better as the Islamic State. We send drones into the Middle East, drop carpet bombs that indiscriminately kill men, women, and children — creating millions of displaced refugees if they survive — and we call it “national security.” When ISIS massacres innocent people using the instruction manual we wrote for them, we call it “terrorism.” And the subject we never treat in any meaningful way is how we as a country gratuitously torture and murder billions of nonhuman animals a year, an obvious conclusion of our right to dictate who may live and who may die. And if Animal Liberation activists drop their signs & petitions and decide to confront those terrorizing the innocent, we are immediately labeled “terrorists” as well. The difference, though, is that we have not yet picked up weapons in any meaningful way.
Because we exist in a false reality crafted through semantic subterfuge, it is a commonly-held belief that violence only leads to more violence. This kind of pacifism excuses state-sanctioned terrorism while simultaneously condemning all effective violence to defend the innocent. Animal activists largely agree that we must fight a war armed only with peaceful reasoning and education lest we be labeled “terrorists.” I’m far more concerned with stopping abusers and freeing their victims than I am with how I may be labeled or remembered. Animal Liberation activists must seek to deliberately and consistently escalate our actions until we have physically stopped abusers. And for those who are willing to set it off, we need not fear damaging the movement. There will always be enough activists left exchanging recipes at potlucks to distance themselves from us and convince the mainstream that we don’t speak for the movement — a predominantly-peace-loving group who prefer to talk than act.
So let’s get back to Stephen Paddock. He’s white. So he can’t be a terrorist. He’s a hunting enthusiast, public records indicating that he’s held hunting and fishing licenses since 1980. Just a regular law-abiding white guy. What could possibly have gone wrong in his head? Maybe nothing. Maybe he’s simply a product of the violent culture in which we all incubate. As a hunter, I would imagine his murderous rampages against nonhuman animals were excused in the name of “conservation” or thinning the herd. I would suggest that when he decided to hunt human animals, perhaps he was simply exercising that same benevolent conservation instinct.