In this incarnation of the strong against the weak, it’s a maniac with an assault rifle versus school children.
“The weak are meat the strong do eat.”
That’s my favorite line from my favorite movie of the year: “Cloud Atlas.” In many ways it sums up the whole history of our uncivilized civilization. Pyramids, castles, plantations, factories and multinational conglomerates have been built for the aggrandizement, glorification and enrichment of the few and the strong by the abusive exploitation of the many and the weak. The song remains the same, only the singers change.
At this moment in history, the assault weapon industry is the strong, we are the weak meat, and they are eating us alive. With the help of a small but incredibly disturbingly vocal segment of the National Rifle Association (which sadly seems to have devolved from a group dedicated to citizen’s rights to protect themselves and to hunt, into the National Gun Manufacturers Propaganda Association) they’re making a bloody fortune.
And they’re not about to let a bunch of murdered moms, dead dads, and slaughtered children get in their way. The pro-gun lobby has systematically put laws in place so that gun manufacturers can’t be held financially or legally responsible for the carnage and slaughter their products produce. The right to bear weapons of mass destruction is readily available to homicidal maniacs everywhere.
And we just walk around pretending it’s normal. Just like some Americans used to think having a slave was normal. George Washington, father of our country: slave owner. Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence superstar: slave owner, who impregnated a woman that he legally owned like his owned his mule and his cow. Plantation owners were the strong and slaves with the meat they got fat on.
This weekend I also saw the Steven Spielberg biopic “Lincoln.” Another movie that’s about one per centers trying desperately to protect the aristocratic opulence they built on the backs of human beings who were hunted down and captured, selectively bred, bought and sold. Daniel Day-Lewis, exquisitely channeling Abraham Lincoln, is one man who doesn’t pretend it’s normal. Knowing it may cost him his friends, his reputation, and ultimately his life (!), he faces down the slave industry, and changes the Constitution so that slavery is forever abolished.
Watching “Lincoln” felt like déjà vu all over again. The slave owner’s shills, lobbyists, and propagandists, screaming and wailing with furious irrational rage, trying desperately to hold on to all that money for themselves and their clients. Exactly like what the NRA is doing for the assault weapon industry.
I also recently started re-watching the beginning episodes of “Mad Men,” the show about the rise of Madison Avenue advertising executives. In the early 60s, the tobacco industry was under massive attack, screaming and wailing with furious irrational rage, trying desperately to hold on to all that money. Sound familiar?
Cigarettes weren’t just normal, they were sexy. In planes, trains, and automobiles, in elevators, offices and maternity wards, everybody was smoking. In “Mad Men” when you watch a pregnant lady in a smoky bar suck down an unfiltered cigarette, it takes your breath away. Don Draper, the most dapper leading man in recent memory, smokes like a thermonuclear reactor. As the series opens, it’s his job to come up with an ad campaign for a frantic tobacco company, which has been told that it can no longer use doctors to testify in their commercials about the health benefits of cigarettes. Even though the tobacco companies spent millions putting together bogus medical reports emphatically stating that cigarettes were as wholesome as mother’s milk, and hiding the fact that they were getting rich by killing American citizens.
The assault weapon industry, on the other hand, spent their millions infiltrating the NRA and buying politicians to be their evangelists, apologists and lawmakers, so they couldn’t be held responsible, legally or financially. But America’s love affair with cigarettes didn’t end because of the money. As more and more people stood up to the modern day robber barons in the tobacco industry, and we saw our loved ones die torturous cancerous deaths, the more we saw smoking for what it really was. Here in the 21st century, when I see some shmo smoking, it doesn’t look sexy. It looks like evolution has passed them by.
The assault weapon industry has wrapped itself in the American flag for so long that America has been hypnotized into believing that having an AK-47 that can slaughter hundreds of school kids in minutes is our God-given right, and that anyone who says it isn’t is a pinko commie USA-hater who should be immediately deported. See Piers Morgan. The worst kind of evil has always been the smart kind.
I have a five-year-old who goes to kindergarten. Two of my sisters are teachers. I just kept imagining getting that phone call over and over and over. Your daughter’s been killed by an automatic rifle. Your sister’s been gunned down so the assault weapon industry can make more money.
As the aching pain in my heart for all those kids and teachers and their families moves up into my head, and I try to figure out what I’m supposed to do about all this, I’m filled with anger. My favorite part of Obama’s speech was when he got all riled up and said, in effect, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” What is to be done? This is always the question, isn’t it?
I want to be Abraham Lincoln. I want to be the whistle-blower who exposed how the tobacco industry was poisoning Americans to get rich. I want to be one drop in the ocean that says it’s not normal to have weapons of mass destruction available at my local Kmart, so evil can walk in the door, buy an NRA-approved assault weapon and go gun down some more kids. The answer to the assault weapon epidemic isn’t more assault weapons. It’s treating the assault weapon industry like the middlemen of misery it is, and giving it a smackdown for what it’s doing to our country. Just like we did with the slave owners. And the tobacco bandits.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being meat.
Image credit: dok1/Flickr