Monday, January 7, 2013

Ockham's Razor, and the Search for Answers in the Connecticut Shootings

Isn't it amazing how quickly we call outsiders "terrorists"? Then, when one of our own commits the same unspeakable acts, we look around and ask "Why?" Why? Because "our own" are terrorists, too.

There is a principle called "Ockham's Razor", attributed to the 14th-century philosopher, William of Ockham. It basically states that the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.

As I listened to the coverage of the Connecticut shootings this past weekend, I was puzzled by how delicately this nation danced around so serious a topic as terrorism. President Obama, in his memorial speech to the victims on Sunday, refused to utter the word "terrorism", as though that word would conflate this massacre with something that only ungodly foreigners do, and thereby taint the American nature of the moment.

The first thing Americans must do about these senseless attacks is look them in the face, and call them what they are:  terrorist acts. Until we can call a duck a duck, how can we honestly address this endless catastrophe? When we rush to call the killers of four "innocent" Americans in Benghazi "terrorists," and then go dumb when 20 six-year-olds are slaughtered in Connecticut, we forfeit our claim of seeking real answers. We are just pretending.

After 9-11, America declared a war on terrorism - said it would be a "different kind of war." they did not let on, however, that their declaration was phony - designed as it was to create a super boogey-man at our door. )it is an ages-old tactic used to manipulate nationalistic fervor.) It is time to either apply the "terrorist" label to all senseless acts of random violence, at home and abroad, or stop using it altogether.

America's war on terrorism is here, not in Yemen and Afghanistan; it has been here for years. We experience terrorist acts by home-grown terrorists year after year, from coast to coast. America has thousands of these people; perhaps millions. Not all of them will blossom into their completely hateful selves, but we must be ever conscious of that prospect. We must be prepared to duck, and fight back.

Then, there is the matter of motive. Police have searched high and low this weekend for a motive in the Connecticut shootings. (As of this writing three days later, they claim "a motive still has not emerged.")

I think we know what the motive  was:  It was revenge. You say, "…but the children did nothing to Adam Lanza." Lanza did not kill the children for the children's sake. He did it for the sake of the community that he felt had mistreated him. The 9-11 attackers did not knock down the Twin Towers for the Tower's sake. Those towers did no more to the 9-11 attackers than the children of newtown did to Lanza. They knocked down the Towers because those towers represented the heart of America's pride and vanity. Lanza killed the children because they represented the heart of the Newtown community. The 9-11 attackers sought to cripple a nation. Adam Lanza sought to drive a stake through the heart of a community. Lanza wanted revenge against the community that had hurt his feelings.

This weekend, the psychoanalysts waxed eloquent about what causes young men to do evil things. Nowhere did nay of these "experts" speak of the American psyche that nourishes this pathology of vengeance. We, as a nation, seek revenge regularly, and we will satisfy that thirst with abandon. George Bush admitted he wanted Saddam Hussein because "Saddam tried to kill my daddy."

This country is proud of its revenge motives. "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Pearl Harbor!" are iconic cries of American patriotism. We killed over 100,00 Iraqis and Afghans to avenge the 2,974 Americans killed on 9-11. when our answer to madness is more madness, then madness is what we shall beget.

Here's how we stop the shootings, American:  Stop hurting one another. Start treating one another better. And for those whose pride is hurt, nonetheless: Stop seeking revenge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're on point with this one! I've learned to peacefully engage the semantics of some issues if it's important for me to interact, not taking 'words' used for granted, simply to ensure the mutual understanding necessary for resolution (at the very least within myself). You know you watchful/be ready...something can jump'off at any moment. Keep Bangin'! Tico