Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Killer of Men

"These tragedies must end," Obama said at Newtown this weekend.

Proud words. Apparently Washington has an insight into these problems they are not sharing. What can we simple folk work out from the information of the last several home-grown disasters?

One, the perpetrators were male, except when they weren't. For example,  Jennifer San Marco in Goleta, California.
Two, they were crazy, except when they weren't. McVeigh at Oklahoma wasn't crazy nor were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine.
Three, they used guns, except when they didn't. McVeigh and the Columbine wannabes used--or tried to use--explosives.

Generalities about people and groups in most circles are called bigotry and prejudice unless it is done by some social scientist or politician for some vague presumed good. Indeed there are some who think the very inability of social science to generalize well is the reason for our success as a species: The unpredictability of the individual for astonishing good as well as evil. Killers like this one in Connecticut are not only unpredictable, they are the obverse of our creative side.

Or are these malignancies really outliers? Mao killed over 35 million, the Khmer Rouge killed 30% of Cambodia's population (so many that they developed a bullet conservation program and made "to hoe" a verb meaning "to kill"), Stalin killed 45 million and Hitler 6 million Jews alone, and the Turks killed over a million Armenians in 1915. Ahmadinajad promises to kill all the Jews in the world--the world--and there does not seem to be an age requirement in his mind. And Lord knows how many Hutus and Tutsis were killed. We are not talking combat here, we are talking murder.

Until Mr. Obama has some way of first protecting people from the great killer of men, the State, he is wasting his time with these terrible, but small, tragedies. And we, the potential victims, deserve leadership with a better understanding of our risk.

No comments: