Saturday, April 20, 2013

If It's A Battlefield, He Has Done His Small Part

The Nation's Rick Perlstein puts it into perspective when he explains

As ghastly, evil, overwhelming, tragic, as the events this week in Boston, Texas, the Capitol mail rooms, have been, it's easy to forget, in our oh-so-American narcissism, enveloped in the wall-to-wall coverage that makes our present catastrophe feel like the most important events in the universe, how safe and secure Americans truly are by any rational standard. Terror shatters us here precisely because ours is not a terrifying place compared to so much of the rest of the world. And also not really an objectively terrifying time, compared other periods in the American past: for instance, Christmastime, 1975, when an explosion equivalent to twenty-five sticks of dynamite exploded in a baggage claim area, leaving severed heads and other body parts scattered among some two dozen corpses; no one ever claimed responsibility; no one ever was caught; but pretty much, the event was forgotten, life went on, and no one anywhere said "everything changed."

Everything has changed, to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.   Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin on Friday afternoon wrote that she

spoke with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) by phone just a few minutes ago. He said of the Boston bombers: “They were radicalized somewhere, somehow.” Regardless of whether they are international or “homegrown,” he said, “This is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.” Recalling Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster, Graham noted that he took to the Senate floor specifically to object to Rand’s notion that “America is not the battlefield.” Graham said to me, “It’s a battlefield because the terrorists think it is.” Referring to Boston, he observed, “Here is what we’re up against,” and added, “It sure would be nice to have a drone up there [to track the suspect.]” He also slammed the president’s policy of “leading from behind and criminalizing war.” 

It's a little counter-intuitive for a fellow, anxious for war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and who knows where else, to claim now that "the homeland is the battlefield,"  which would sound like latter-day isolationism, were there any principle behind it.  It is also stupid because, as Alex Pareene points out, "Making America 'the battlefield' is sort of the point of terrorism" (emphasis his), aside from killing people and forcing a change in foreign policy.  Notwithstanding the fear and panic Perlstein realizes public figures like Graham wish to sow, this homeland is relatively safe.

Relatively safe from terrorism, that is.   If "the homeland is the battlefield," it may be because in the U.S. A., there are approximately 30,000 deaths per year by firearm.  As Ezra Klein has noted, of the 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years, 15 have occurred here and of the 12 deadliest shootings in the USA, six have transpired subsequent to 2006.  

States with the strictest gun laws generally have the fewest gun-related deaths.  In honor of the "homeland" being "the battlefield," Senator Graham Wednesday joined 41 of his GOP colleagues in voting against cloture on the Manchin-Toomey minimalist gun safety measure.    

When Lindsey Graham says America is "the battlefield," we all assume he is dissatisfied. Maybe we should reconsider our assumptions.  

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