When the Chickens Come Home to Roost
June 22, 2015
Since the shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina church, it is interesting to me how outraged everyone seems to be. Not that outrage isn’t the appropriate response, but this outrage seems combined with an element of astonishment as if people are asking “How could this happen?” The act is presented to us and we view it as almost unimaginable, leading to the question cited above, “How could this happen?”
I really don’t understand this response insofar as mass killings are anything but unusual in the United States or where the United States is involved in the world. Have people forgotten, for example, the mass killings in Connecticut at an elementary school? Have people forgotten the mass killings in a Colorado movie theatre? Have people forgotten the millions of Vietnamese who were killed as a result of our waging war there for several years, to say nothing of the 58,000 plus American soldiers who also died there? Have people forgotten the mass killings of civilians in Iraq that occurred as a result of our invading that nation and even doing so under false pretenses?
Maybe people haven’t forgotten these events but what they seem to fail to recognize is that when mass killings are common events, and some of them are even seen as justified, it is fair to conclude that these events are part and parcel of the way we live, of the way we are in the world. It is this way of being in the world that accounts for the fact that mass killings are common place, not the presence of Confederate flags or even large numbers of guns. To think that taking down all flags that incorporate Confederate symbols, or to think that more gun regulation will make a significant impact on such events is like thinking that if the show “24” were taken off the air or never aired, the US would not torture people. It is a comfortable way of thinking but it isn’t all that persuasive.
And by failing to recognize that these mass killings are part and parcel of our way of being in the world, we also then, when these events take place, turn to our leaders or to the government for guidance and reform, forgetting that it was their “watch” and under the current government that these events took place. Why should we listen to what the current leadership has to say when it was on their watch that the latest mass killing took place? Isn’t this just another way of preserving the status quo and, thereby, preparing the ground for more mass killings?
When JFK was assassinated, Malcolm X got in trouble for saying, “The chickens have come home to roost.” But it was the truth. JFK was assassinated just weeks after the assassination of President Diem in South Vietnam, an event JFK was intimately involved with. It also occurred after JFK and his brother, Robert, authorized “Operation Mongoose,” by which they were trying their best to have Fidel Castro assassinated. As LBJ said when he discovered these things, the Kennedys were running a “Murder, Inc.,” out of the Oval Office. But, of course, Johnson never made this public or condemned it publicly. He knew he couldn’t do that. And, of course, he was correct. Had he done that he would have been condemned. Note well: the Kennedys would not have been condemned; but LBJ would have been condemned had he revealed their “Murder, Inc.”.
We Americans have embraced violence as a tool, even as one of the primary tool, of maintaining what we think of as a civilized society. Is it any wonder then that some Americans turn to violence, to mass killings, as a way of improving our society? It might seem “wonder-ful” but it shouldn’t. We as a people and as a government do it all the time.