And, now, mass murder has come to Wisconsin.
Wasn't it just a few days ago that some deranged guy invaded a movie theater in Colorado and started killing people?
Now we have a guy in Wisconsin who invades a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, kills six, and wounds others, including a police officer.
It is too early to know what manifestation the shooter's madness takes. I assume madness is an issue. Sane people don't go around shooting up Sikh temples.
But we don't know whether he is a liberal or a conservative, someone who has it in for Sikhs, or someone who assumes anyone with a turban is a Muslim terrorist.
Here's what we do know: We know he had a gun. Here's what else we do know: We know that, within a matter of weeks or months, some other mass shooting will dominate the headlines.
The reactions will be predictable. Some will call for new gun control legislation – which is not going to happen and probably wouldn't do much to curtail this kind of violence even if it did. Others will lament the fact the Sikhs weren't armed – a Gatling gun at the temple door might have caused the shooter to have second thoughts.
In the end, nothing will change.
Sooner or later, however, we might have to start asking ourselves just what kind of people we have become.
Or, maybe not.
I guess we have always been a violent people. We won our independence through war. We killed hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens in the Civil War. We lynched thousands of black Americans because. . .well, does anyone really know why we did that? There was never a good reason to lynch someone – but lynching is part of our American history.
We are a society that finds the killing of our fellow citizens acceptable, at least "acceptable" enough that we won't do anything to stop it.
And, yet, we keep trying to convince ourselves that we are an "exceptional" nation, one somehow favored by God because of our devotion to freedom, or something. We really do think that we are better than the other peoples of the earth.
I'm not sure what the answer is, though I sometimes think that we ought to spend more time watching old movie Westerns.
In those movies, the heroes were the guys in white hats who brought law and order to the frontier. When they were successful, the cowboys checked their guns before getting drunk and the cowboys who tried to shoot things up were ostracized.
They called that civilization.
Might still be a good idea.
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