By Jamye Wooten | NEWS & VIEWS

 “The staggering toll of gun violence—which claims 31,000 U.S. lives each year—is an urgent public health issue that demands an effective evidence-based policy response.”– The Case for Gun Policy Reform in America

There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”– Maya Angelou

There has been a lot of attention given to gun violence, since the day Adam Lanza armed himself with hundreds of bullets and took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. This tragic story has gotten the attention of corporate media, the nation, and even a President who hails from one of the deadliest cities in the country. “We won’t be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try,” stated President Obama.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, also joined the chorus launching  Demand a Plan, a celebrity backed PSA campaign to reform gun laws.

Mayor Bloomberg has been supportive of the controversial, “Stop and Frisk” program of the NYPD that has resulted in over 4 million stops and street interrogations of mostly Black and Latinos in New York City since 2002. According to New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) guns are found in less than 0.2 percent of stops, prompting concerns over racial profiling.

Gun Policy Summit

The staggering toll of gun violence—which claims 31,000 U.S. lives each year—is an urgent public health issue that demands an effective evidence-based policy response.

The staggering toll of gun violence—which claims 31,000 U.S. lives each year—is an urgent public health issue that demands an effective evidence-based policy response.

Last month, I attended a two-day Gun Policy Summit hosted by Mayor Bloomberg and the John Hopkins University School for Public Health. I was interested in hearing what sort of gun policy recommendations would be proposed and their potential impact on the Black community.

According to the research there are over 31,000 incidents of gun violence each year in the United States, but while homicides often make the headlines, there is a less known fact when dealing with issues of gun violence.

Out of the 31,000 lives lost due to gun violence, every year 19,000 or almost 2 out of every 3 are suicides. White males accounted for over 80% of gun related suicides in 2010. And according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, yearly medical costs associated with suicide, is nearly $100 million and 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.

Every night we watch Black men on the nightly news who have been involved in gun violence. Gun violence in urban America is a serious issue and Black youth are disproportionately victims of it. When addressing the high rates of homicide in the African-American community, Dr. Linda Frisman told the audience at John Hopkins “that being African-American and Hispanic are really proxies for social and economic disadvantage.” This is something that most Blacks understand. Addressing gun violence in urban America will not be solved with more police and school resource officers as President Obama has recommended or by adding additional security cameras to our schools that stream live to patrol cars and police precincts. If we are serious about reducing gun violence, we must address the social and economic disparities in communities of color. Strong economically secure communities that provide family sustaining wages, affordable housing, culturally relevant and enriching education that equips children with skills to succeed in the 21st century, and love will make schools and neighborhoods safe for our children. Successful faith and community-based programs should be rewarded with additional funds with less money being poured into Police departments that normally respond punitively when dealing with our children.

Another forty white men have killed themselves tonight

I begin to think, what if each night the local nightly news began by stating, “Another forty white men have killed themselves tonight?”

There are studies for every social pathology in the Black community, and policy responses crafted by “experts,” that are often punitive and never seem to be systemic. But for some reason, you can’t find much research on white males and why they are killing themselves at an alarming rate, or why there is a fascination with weapons. What if we began to take the same data and create policy around it? What would it look like? Would it stigmatize white males? Would we have to dispatch mental health professionals to workplaces every time they were laid off? Would we need to send the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to their homes to search and remove their guns? How safe would White women and children feel when their husbands and fathers were laid off? Would white men be considered a High-Risk group for firearm ownership? Or would there be a stop and frisk policy implemented for White men over the age of 50?

In October of 2012, leading experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health produced a report entitled, “The Case for Gun Policy Reform in America.” Many of the policy recommendations from the expert reports concentrated on Firearms Prohibitions for High-Risk Persons. Though suicide is the leading cause of death by firearms, with White males accounting for over 80%, they were not mentioned in the high risk category.

Well, who are the High Risk groups that should be prohibited from owning firearms? Under the section entitled, Why Firearms Prohibitions for High-Risk Persons Should be Broadened the categories include Criminals, Substance Abusers (Illegal Substances) and Youth Under Age 21.

Criminal Prohibitions

We believe the evidence above justifies an extension of firearm prohibitions for persons with a history of criminal behavior to include persons convicted of all misdemeanor crimes of violence, as well as individuals who have committed felony crimes as a juvenile.”

Substance Abusers

The number of drug abusers prohibited from possessing firearms might be increased significantly by revamping these regulations to, for example, expand the period following a drug conviction for which a person is prohibited from possessing firearms.”

Youth Under Age 21

Restrictions on youths’ ability to purchase and possess firearms should be broadened. Although federal law and most state law allows youth 18 to 20 years of age to legally possess a handgun, youth of these ages have some of the highest rates of homicide offending.”

These policy recommendations are about narrowing access to who can legally own a firearm, by identifying the most high-risk persons. The criminal prohibitions and substance abusers recommendations would narrow the number of Black people who have access to guns. Not because Blacks use illegal substances at higher rates than Whites. According to the NAACP, “5 times as many Whites are using drugs as Blacks, yet the Black population, especially men are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites.”  The NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheets states that “in 2002, despite that fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic, blacks constituted more than 80% of people sentences under federal crack cocaine laws.”

It is also important to remember, as Dr. Matthew Miller pointed out, the vast majority guns that kill are handguns and legally owned.

United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Internationally the United Nations appears to be pursuing the same policies. In March of this year they will convene the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The conference is designed to tighten import, export and transfer of conventional arms. The UN states that ATT “will not aim to ban any weapon.” And why would they? White men control the most deadly arsenals of weapons of mass destruction in the world. Instead, the conference wants to make sure weapons don’t fall “into the hands of terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal cartels.”

Drug traffickers and Criminal cartels? I think you already know who the target groups are. This sounds very familiar to the language in the Hopkins report. Identify high-risk populations, mostly communities of color and limit their access to acquiring weapons while leaving out the highest risk group, White men. No group has manufactured, proliferated or used more weapons of mass destruction than White males, yet they conveniently label communities of color as “terrorists” or “high risk.”

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. – Isaiah 2:4

I pray for the day when we will beat our swords into plowshares and study war no more. But until then, we must make an honest effort to make sound gun policy. We must make sure that the War-on-Guns does not unfairly target people of color in the same way the War-on-Drugs have devastated our community.

READ MORE on Kinetics LIVE

A Conversation with Professor Ann Little About the Newtown Massacre, Adam Lanza, America’s Gun Culture, and the Puzzle of White Masculinity


A Conversation with Professor Ann Little About the Newtown Massacre, Adam Lanza, America’s Gun Culture, and the Puzzle of White Masculinity

I hope that the New Year was restful and celebratory. Before Christmas, there was a momentary “national conversation” about gun violence in the aftermath of the Newtown Massacre. Curiously, but not surprising, said moment of introspection about how America’s gun culture eats it youth has fallen off of the national radar as the pundit classes have moved on to other matters. There will be other mass shootings; we will have said “national conversation” again; nothing will be done given the NRA’s murder hold on the American people.

As I explored in a series of posts, the central question regarding the Gun Right is how these mass shootings do not lead to any serious exploration of the intersection(s) of Whiteness, White Masculinity, and mass gun violence. White men commit an overwhelming amount of the mass shootings in the United States. Yet, except for a few outliers, there is no sustained effortto engage the obvious puzzle: if white men are killing people, often by the dozens–in murders where they are the offenders at twice their rate in the general population–why are so many in the news media afraid and hostile to basic questions about “white crime?”

In my effort to explore this question, I reached out to two great scholars of American history and culture. Both kindly agreed to participate in WARN’s podcast series.

Our first guest is Professor Ann Little, author of the bookAbraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England,who writes over at the great website Historiann. In our podcast, she does a wonderful job of setting up our conversation by offering a wonderful, rich, and insightful perspective on the Newtown Massacre and the colonial era roots of the United States (near pathological) love of guns in the present

Dr. Little was so very generous with her time. We covered a great amount of material in this conversation and offered up a necessary, and to this point, very much lacking historical context for the Newtown Massacre, and the fear by many in the pundit classes to even discuss white masculinity and gun violence.

This was a real treat. I was so glad to be able to bring this dialogue to the readers of We Are Respectable Negroes and those who follow our podcast series.

I do hope you enjoy the conversation.


2:59 As a historian and scholar of America and gun culture, what were your first thoughts about the Newtown Massacre?
6:18 How do we begin to think broadly about masculinity and gun culture in the United States, and how it helps us to understand Adam Lanza’s murder spree?
11:22 The gun and white male citizenship in colonial America and the Founding
15:00 Is the magical thinking of Conservatives typified by the gun control debate? What are some of the regional differences in regards to gun culture in the United States? How is this surprising (or not)?
23:55 An open letter to white men. Beginning to think about White masculinity, Whiteness and gun violence
29:25 How do people respond to conversations where whiteness and masculinity are interrogated and challenged?
34:40 Is White Masculinity a story of historical continuity or change? Is White Heterosexual Masculinity static?
48:27 More context for avoiding a critical interrogation of Whiteness and gun violence: White Mediocrity and the subsidization of Whiteness vs. the myth of American Meritocracy
56:14 Historical myopia, the luxury of being white and historical memory, and the allure of believing the “White Lies” of American history
62:14 What is your “blogging story?” How does blogging fit into your academic career?
64:03 The failure of academics to be able to effectively communicate with “regular” folks who are also smart like them
69:20 Academic writing’s impact vs the audience and impact of blogging

Guns, Race and America’s Collective Psychosis l Ishmael Reed


It’s Not the Deer, It’s the Brothers

Guns, Race and America’s Collective Psychosis


When I appeared on a panel with Chris Hedges during the Miami International Book Fair, I told him and the audience that I appear in a book called My Ideal Bookshelf by Jane Mount and Thessaly La Force in which a stack of the favorite books of writers were painted by Ms. Mount. White authors wrote about a third of my favorites.

But I mentioned that though I read white male authors avidly, it’s difficult to gather the points of view of others when both left and right opinions in the media industry are dominated by white men. To present those points of view that are left out might add new dimensions to the discussion of important issues in the news, for though the media mocks Gov. Romney’s alienation from changing demographics, they suffer from the same problem.

For example, the Bank of America is in constant trouble with the law. I witnessed the president and CEO of the Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, make his case about foreclosures before an audience assembled by the Brookings Institution. The audience was reverential to Moynihan who carried on like BOA was Mother Teresa. And while the moderator, Karen Dynan, Vice President of Brookings, did everything but wash his feet and kept “completely” agreeing with him, even though millions of her sisters have been harmed by the bank’s policies, it took a Hispanic representative from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals to ask him why black and Hispanic borrowers were steered into subprime loans by BOA when the majority were eligible for conventional loans.

An all white panel followed the presentation by the CEO even though BOA’s policies have disproportionately affected blacks and Hispanics. No matter how brightest and best, and no matter the degrees from Harvard, Yale, etc., when it comes to analyzing events from the perspective of blacks and browns, most members of the segregated media, have a blind spot; but fortunately, many don’t. Thom Hartman, Randy Rhoads and Jay Marvin get it, which is why you rarely see them on the tube. Apparently the corporations that ambush our eyeballs screen them out too. So do sites like Salon and the Daily Beast.

The late Alexander Cockburn was even censored by a neoliberal site, The Nation, which is run by a feminist, who slashed his popular column from two pages down to one and from two a month to once a month; yet, like the New York Times Book Review, the majority of books reviewed in The Nation are written by white men. And the media, according to Rick Sanchez, cater to “Angry White Men.” Therefore you can’t bring up subjects that might alienate them. This is why Howard Kurtz, who did a tribute to confessed rapist Strauss Kahn (who made a settlement of six million dollars with his accuser, with little coverage from the media), and a black female reporter can rake Chris Brown but, as a result of a non-aggression pact between General Electric and Rupert Murdoch, can’t touch Murdoch, who approved of a cartoon showing the president as a murdered chimp and fired Sandra Guzman when she objected. Reuters reported:

“In November 2009, Guzman, who is black and Puerto Rican, sued the Post, its editor Col Allan and its parent News Corp for alleged discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, gender and national origin, saying she had been fired in retaliation for complaints over inappropriate conduct.”

Who has done more damage to women? Chris Brown or Murdoch’s Tea Party that wants to end food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security?

On Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show, moderated by the very gifted, intellectually, Mrs. Perry, the brothers get roughed up every week, even to the extent of dragging in Isiah Thomas’s sexual harassment suit (the accuser received a eleven million dollar settlement) into a discussion about misogyny in the armed forces, when Thomas is not a soldier, general or admiral. He was a basketball coach. Yet, when having a discussion of violence against Native American women, 34% of whom get raped during their lifetimes, feminists who were panel members on Melissa Harris Perry’s show, and the host herself, sought to shield white men from shame. They got tongue-tied. The perpetrators were described as “non-Indian” males. It took Jonathan Capehart of  the Washington Post, to identify the “non-Indians” as white men.

These are the kind of feminists who get all worked up about Chris Brown and O.J. and the Central Park Five, but when it comes to white men, their employers’ group, acting crazy, they get a pass. They’re referred to as non-Indians. Euphemisms are invoked.

Also on a MSNBC progressive show last weekend, there appeared another sign of how clueless white progressives are about black feelings, a cluelessness that black progressives have complained about since the 1920s. Liberals and progressives appearing on “Up w/Chris Hayes” praised Mayor Bloomberg for his gun-control policies. Nothing about his stop and frisk Gestapo policy, which led 640,000 black and Hispanic men and women to being stopped in 2011 and often roughed up by the notorious NYPD, a degenerate outfit that even Richard Price’s latest effort to pretty it up, failed. His “Wire” offshoot, “NYC22,” was cancelled. The Times reviewer said that showing Harlem blacks engaging in stupid low level crimes was an “exhausted genre.” When I said the same thing about “ The Wire,” David Simon, who has become the chief money-making translator of black to white America, said that I was against him because he was “a white man” writing about blacks. If I spent my time and energy writing about white men writing about blacks, screen writers, authors of hoodie books, television script writers, bloggers, columnists, sociologists that’s all I’d be doing. One of the salespersons for “Precious “said that it would provide a “gold mine” of opportunity. Opportunity for some whites. Cecil Brown said that a white Berkeley professor asked him about issues in the black community. Brown mentioned asthma. Next thing Brown knew, the professor had received a large grant to study asthma in the black community.

When I was in East Jerusalem in September, Palestinian kids, having gotten all of the information about blacks from Hollywood and CNN, asked me why all black Americans were drug addicts. I told them that it’s because our enemies tell our stories. Is this something new? W.E.B. DuBois criticized DuBose Heyward’s book for “Porgy and Bess” and said that if whites were depicted in the same way there would have been no ticket sales. These ticket buyers are crazy about their Catfish Rows, and their “Precious.” “The Wire” and films by Quentin Taratino.In a Times article it was written that in the new revised “Porgy” the character Crown becomes a rapist instead of a seducer

in order to enhance ticket sales. Who is the bigger molester or harasser of black and Hispanic women, Crown, Isiah Thomas or men under Mayor Bloomberg’s command?

Black women have complained that they have been sexually molested during Bloomberg’s stop and frisks, but hey, maybe one of these clowns will rescue them from fire like in the movie, “Crash” where the star of the movie, a cop, not only manages to cop some free feels at the expense of the black woman, but becomes a sort of CNN hero as well.

I watched in amazement as the feminists on the MSNBC panel including the brilliant Esther Armah, radio host at WBAI, sat in silence as New York Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson tossed kudos to Bloomberg, a pious pompous hypocrite, who criticizes the president, while his police department under the leadership of his Commissioner Raymond Kelly terrorizes black and Hispanic citizens, even children. Their harassment of children even outraged Bob Herbert. Hewing to the feminist line, the enormously talented Ms. Armah believes that only males commit violence. I suppose that she didn’t get my email, which suggested that things might be more complicated. In it I cited Natalie J. Sokoloff, and Christina Pratt’s 2005 book, Family & Relationships –where the authors wrote: “Black women are also more likely than their White counterparts to inflict lethal violence against their husbands.” Amy Goodman should read this book. Ms. Armah should also take a look at the gun collection of Nancy Lanza, whose son Adam murdered 20 children in Newtown. Do you suppose those guns were for hunting deer?

As O.J. Simpson said, they drag him into discussions that don’t have anything to do with him.  Last week when discussing that not all murders are done with guns, someone noted that O.J. used a knife. Put aside the fact that the police planted evidence in the O.J. case, and that a serial killer, who used to party with Nicole Simpson, has confessed to the murders and that O.J. was acquitted, during the same time 22 Chinese kids were stabbed by a mentally disturbed person and only one kid died. By equating a knifing with the massacre of the Newtown children, Steve Kornacki, who is presented on MSNBC as a neo-liberal, was providing cover for the NRA.

This holds true of all blacks, apparently. It’s amazing how even when the perp of a massacre of children is white, media were able to include black perps or personalities in the story. On MSNBC , Dec.15, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s bi-polar condition was cited when discussing Lanza’s “mental illness.” Other black cases that were brought up were the mentally disturbed black suspect who pushed a man into an oncoming train, and the black perp of the Long Island Railroad murders. So even when the perpetrator of a enormous crime is white, the profit center’s directive that angry white males be entertained with images of blacks fucking up is not far from the producers’ minds, even on progressive MSNBC where Michael Steele of the Republican Party migrates from show to show all day not to mention Morning Joe’s three hour Republican caucus each morning.

Not only were blacks cited during a discussion of a crime committed by a white man, Africa was also cited. Somalia came up. S.E. Cupp, a conservative member of a panel on “The Cycle,” said on Dec.18 that when she thinks of a violent country she thinks of Somalia. On the same date, Joy Reid of “The Grio,”partially owned by NBC, chose Mogadishu. Aren’t these women who have access to millions of viewers obligated to mention how the weapons got to Africa? The World Policy Institute issued a report that concluded “Finding 1 – Due to the continuing legacies of its Cold War policies toward Africa, the U.S. bears some responsibility for the cycles of violence and economic problems plaguing the continent. Throughout the Cold War (1950-1989), the U.S. delivered over $1.5 billion worth of weaponry to Africa. Many of the top U.S. arms clients – Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan, and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC) – have turned out to be the top basket cases of the 1990s in terms of violence, instability, and economic collapse.” In the 1950s, I remember conservatism being represented by heavyweights like Hugh Kenner, but Ms. Cupp? Sarah Palin?

Also, given the chance to vote, I suspect that those citizen of countries where millions of women and children died as a result of invasions by American armed forces might think of the U.S. as a place to think of when thinking about violence, and as much as we might lament the terrible slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, I was wondering as I watched the president whether he weeps when he hears about the deaths of thousands of children in countries occupied by forces under his command or the Palestinian kids who get massacred on a regular basis. At least the Newtown murder has begun a more serious discussion of the National Rifle Association and its ownership of Congress, but omitted from the discussion are the racist and anti-Semitic remarks that have been made by NRA board members. When David Sirota got blasted for suggesting that white men be subjected to racial profiling since the typical mass shooting perpetrator is a white man, you can imagine what would happen were some of the black media faces to suggest such a thing. They’d be accused of reverse racism or playing the race card.For a profile of the NRA’s board members, you have to go to

Once in awhile, the truth sneaks through despite the efforts of Chuck, Chris, Chris, David, and Dan, Luke and Joe to obfuscate. Michael Moore told Piers Morgan that the nation is armed because whites with guns want to use them on black people. Morgan interrupted him. Morgan must have read the memo from CNN executives, one of whom told Rick Sanchez that “Race sells.” These armed whites have a fantasy that was portrayed in Robert Crumb’s brilliant though offensive cartoon “When The Niggers Take Over America.”

There’s another source that reveals what is on the minds of those who have rushed to the gun stores when President Obama was elected and when he was re-elected. Do you think that these millions armed themselves because volunteers were requested to diminish the over population of deer? Maybe I’m not surprised that the media haven’t paid more attention to The Turner Diaries, the novel manifesto that inspired Timothy McVeigh who blew up the Alfred E.Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19,1995;a shoot-out between the FBI and a Neo-Nazi that took place outside of Pullman, Washington. Buford O. Furrow, who shot kids at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in 1999; Richard Poplawski, who murdered three Pittsburgh policemen in 2009. None of these killers suffered from Asperger’s. In William Pierce’s book, the Jews get “The Cohen Act” passed. They take away the guns and the “Negro police” enforce the act. As a result blacks assault whites. They even commit cannibalism. The big obsession of the book is race-mixing.

Senator Diane Feinstein has promised to introduce legislation that will ban assault weapons and if it passes, black Attorney General Eric Holder will enforce the legislation. It is because of the paranoid fantasy, this collective psychosis, one that the media are scared to mention, that the nation will never get rid of assault weapons and more Newtowns will happen, and even deadlier ones than the Newtown massacre.

Ishmael Reed’s latest book is “Going Too Far.” He is the publisher of Konch at Konch goes monthly in January.

Reposted from CounterPunch

Deaths of children that don’t make news l OUR COMMON GROUND Voice, Dr. Vijay Prashad

Vijay Prashad: Deaths of children that don’t make news


Monday, December 17, 2012
(Published in print: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NORTHAMPTON — No community easily suffers the death of children. Accidents, violent crimes and illness: the cause is immaterial.

No death of a child is for a reason. All such deaths are senseless.

In his emotional address shortly after news came of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., President Obama pointed to the frequency of such mass crimes and nudged the country to widen our field of vision: “Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.”

The contrary nudge came in his last destination, the “street corner in Chicago.”

When a singular mass killing occurs in mainly affluent suburbs, it shocks the nation — and rightly so. But it might be a shock to some to know that this year alone 117 children died from handgun violence in Chicago. These deaths do not get discussed, let alone memorialized in the national conversation of tragedy.

There are at least two reasons for this. First, these deaths do not happen in a spectacular fashion. They take place in ones and twos, often in the lonely hours of the night when bullets depart from their targets and settle in the soft tissue of children asleep in their homes, or in the afternoon as they play on the sidewalk.

Take the case of April 12. One-year-old Jayliah Allen was shot while she slept in her bed, the bullet entering the window. Seven-year-old Derrick Robeteau was shot in the leg while playing outside his grandfather’s home and a 7-year-old girl was shot as she stood outside her home. Three children hit by handguns in one day, but in an unspectacular form.

Second, old racist habits linger. These are African-American and Latino kids, whose neighborhoods are considered dangerous. Which is why when Jayliah and Derrick were killed no one called their neighborhoods bucolic or thought that this violence was senseless. There is a hardness that has entered our consciousness, allowing us to avoid the sealed fates of these kids.

No memorials exist as well for the 178 children killed by U.S. drone strikes in the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Noor Aziz, 8, Talha, 8, Najibullah, 13, Adnan, 16, Hizbullah, 10, Wilayat Khan, 11, Asadullah, 9, Sohail, 7: these are some of the names of children killed by the drones. News reports frequently say “three militants killed,” and then a few days later, in the Pakistani press, one hears that amongst the dead were children with no association with the militants. Unlike the street shootings in Chicago, there have been mass killings by drones, which have received only minimal attention. On Oct. 30, 2006, a U.S. drone struck a school in Bajaur, Pakistan, killing 83 people. The New York Times story ran Nov. 10 with the headline, “American Strike in January Missed Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 By a Few Hours.”

Read Article Here

05-14-11 Prashad

In the Wake of Another Mass Shooting, Let’s Talk About America’s Dangerously Gutted Mental Healthcare System | Alternet

In the Wake of Another Mass Shooting, Let’s Talk About America’s Dangerously Gutted Mental Healthcare System

The Right’s program for public safety: Everyone should have a gun and few should get adequate mental healthcare.

December 14, 2012  |

Photo Credit:



The scene has replayed itself over and over — in Tucson, at Virginia Tech, at Columbine. On Friday in Connecticut, another unstable man has taken innocent lives in a burst of terrifying violence.

Inadequate gun control is only one half of the story. The other is the shameful job America does of treating the mentally ill. Today, 45 million American adults suffer from mental illness. Eleven million of those cases are considered serious. Most of these people are not dangerous, but if they can’t get treatment, the odds of potential violence increase.

Yet the mentally ill are finding it increasingly difficult to get help. Mental health funding has been plummeting for decades. Since 2009, states have cut billions for mental health from their budgets. As Daniel Lippman has reported in the Huffington Post:

Across the country, states facing severe financial shortfalls have cut at least $4.35 billion in public mental health spending from 2009 to 2012, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). It’s the largest reduction in funding since de-institutionalization in the 1960s and ’70s. In fiscal year 2012 alone, 31 states that gave their numbers to the association reported cutting more than $840 million.

Thanks to the misguided austerity policies embraced by conservatives, more people are falling through the cracks. There are not enough psychiatric beds, treatment services or community support programs. Medication is expensive, and insurance companies routinely leave patients inadequately covered (the Affordable Care Act will hopefully address this problem by finally putting psychiatric illnesses on par with other health issues).

via In the Wake of Another Mass Shooting, Let’s Talk About America’s Dangerously Gutted Mental Healthcare System | Alternet.

A Massacre in Newtown, CT l Commentary

December 14, 2012


Posted by 

“I heard something like someone was kicking on a door,” a little boy, a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, near Newtown, Connecticut, told a reporter for NBC. He said that bullets were “whizzing by” him in the hallway, but “a teacher pulled me into her room” before one hit him. “The gym teachers told us to go in the corner and we huddled,” another said. “We were in the gym and I heard really loud bangs,’’ a third boy, a nine-year-old, told the Times. “And we heard yelling, and we heard gunshots. We heard lots of gunshots…. We had to go into the closet in the gym. Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway.” The children ran, some with their eyes closed, and made it out.


By then, twenty of the children who had arrived at school that morning were dead, along with six grownups—that is a preliminary count—and the shooter, a twenty-year-old man named Adam Lanza, whose mother was among the adult victims. (Earlier reports had named his older brother, Ryan.) “The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old,” President Obama said in a press conference. And then he began to cry.

This is one of the worst school shootings in the history of a country that has had plenty of them. The images from Newtown are hard to shake: the children comforting each other, the parents for whom comfort now must feel useless; the seventeen-year-old who lived near enough to hear the shots and came running, looking for his nine-year-old sister. A teacher leading a line of students, many of them crying but each, with the orderliness of the very young, with hands on the shoulder of the child ahead. Other children had been told to find a buddy before making a break for it, and did. They were brave. The contrast here is not only between the civility of the children and the cruelty of the shooter, but between what was asked of them at this moment and how little the public and elected officials ask of themselves when it comes to doing something about gun violence. (One of the first questions was not just what kind of gun Lanza had but how many.) How do we find ourselves asking kindergarteners to be more courageous in the face of a gunman than politicians are in the face of the gun lobby?

Here is the difference guns make: A man comes to kill his mother. He shoots her and goes to the school where she works and, on his way down the hall, turns his weapon on some of her colleagues. He finds a room filled with kindergarteners; she is their teacher, they are all about five years old. He pulls the trigger and keeps shooting until the children are dead, too. Then he shoots himself.

In what sort of state of rage and nothingness do you have to be to take even one of those steps? Adam Lanza moved from one to another for reasons we will be sorting out for a long time, maybe forever. His mother is dead, and by the time the shooting stopped, so was he. The impulse and the guilt appear to be his alone. But a gun, with the momentum of shot after shot, the continuity of a round of bullets, gives such crimes more force. (As I noted in a post on the Jovan Belcher case, ninety-two per cent of domestic-violence murder-suicides involve guns.) Guns extend the reach of violence, and, with our national silence on senseless gun laws, so do we. Guns make it easier for a killer. They make it impossibly hard for parents who arrive, dazed and pleading, at the firehouse in Connecticut where the surviving schoolchildren were taken, and don’t find the one they were looking for there.

Photograph by Shannon Hicks/Newton Bee/AP.

See our full coverage of the Newtown shooting.

Read more:


December 14, 2012


Posted by 

Having flown into Manchester from J.F.K. on Friday morning, I was driving through my home town of Leeds listening to the radio. “We’re getting reports of another mass shooting at a school in the United States,” the announcer on BBC Radio 4 said, “this one at an elementary school in Connecticut.” By the time I reached my destination, a holiday charity event at Leeds Irish Center, the big television screen above the bar, which is usually dedicated to sports, was showing live pictures and footage from Newtown: buildings and vehicles cordoned off with yellow plastic tape, burly police officers sporting submachine guns, teary parents leading away some of the young survivors.

At that stage, the number of the victims and the name of the shooter hadn’t been established, but it was clear that something terrible had transpired. A few of the revellers near the bar were avidly watching the story develop. Others glanced at it occasionally, shaking their heads. Most people were ignoring the screen, talking to their friends, and drinking their beer—an attitude that wasn’t as heartless as it might seem. From three thousand five hundred miles away, the narrative emerging from Newtown seemed all too familiar. A lone nut arms himself like Rambo, drives to a locale packed with innocents, and savagely takes out his resentments on the world. In July, the location was a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. A few weeks later, it was a Sikh temple near Milwaukee. Now it was an elementary school in leafy Connecticut. Just another American horror movie.

For me, of course, it was something much closer to home. My holiday spirit having dissipated, I called my wife in Brooklyn and talked about what we should tell our two young daughters, both of whom attend local schools. Then I drove back to my mother’s house and turned on the BBC News channel, which was covering the shooting as if it had taken place in Glasgow or Grimsby. Other countries, the U.K. included, have experienced school massacres of this nature. In March, 1996, a former Scout troop leader called Thomas Hamilton entered a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and shot to death sixteen pupils before killing himself. But nowhere have mass shootings been as prevalent as the United States, and nowhere has the policy reaction been so pathetic.

As the coverage continued, the true scale of what had taken place—including the apparent execution of an entire kindergarten class—became clear. But did it really make much of a difference to the underlying narrative? At various points in recent years, the American gun plague has struck down college students, high-school students, department-store shoppers, moviegoers, and religious worshippers. Unstopped, it was sure at some point to claim the lives of kindergarten and grade-school students.

Deprived of much truly revealing footage from the scene, the BBC dug up some eyewitnesses, local residents, psychologists, criminologists, and an academic from Yeshiva University whom it billed as an expert on school massacres. (In what other country can you make a professional specialty of the mass shootings of children?) The presenters dutifully brought up many of the pertinent questions about gun control and school security, not that they, or anybody else here, was really expecting to get any persuasive answers. After watching so many of these terrible events from afar, a lot of Britons and other foreigners, including many who greatly admire the United States, have given up even trying to figure out why it doesn’t do more to prevent them.

In fact, things have gone in the other direction. The U.S.’s addiction to gun violence and its capacity to generate these acts of astonishing selfishness, cruelty, and nihilism is sometimes seen as an immutable national trait—something as American as baseball and fast food. From this perspective, producing crazed shooters like Adam Lanza is just one of those things that American does better than any other nation, the criminal equivalent of churning out New York comedians and Silicon Valley billionaires.

This thinking is wrong, of course. All societies have deeply troubled and alienated young men, some of whom end up violently lashing out at the world. But in most other advanced countries, such as the United Kingdom, which banned handguns after what happened at Dunblane, these misfits don’t have easy access to guns and the gun culture that glorifies them. During recent years, politicians of both parties, President Obama included, have been far too reticent about spelling out this elemental truth. In the immediate aftermath of the massacre at the cinema in Aurora, President Obama refused even to talk about the gun laws, preferring to keep the focus on the victims.

On Friday, it looked for a time as if the White House was going to give another pitiful response, especially when Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney, at his regular morning briefing, said that this wasn’t the day for a discussion of gun control. President Obama recognized the magnitude of the occasion and grasped that something more was needed. In his emotional statement, which the BBC ran live and then showed repeatedly, Obama artfully expressed the nation’s grief and horror and also called for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

They were only words, of course—words and tears. If we really want to persuade people overseas, people such as ones I grew up with, that what happened today was an aberration—a desecration of American values rather than a twisted display of them—more, much more, will be needed: a willingness to face down the N.R.A. and introduce proper gun control. Until such a display of national resolve materializes, the massacres will occur at intermittent intervals, the toll of needless deaths will climb, and our overseas friends will continue to shake their heads, saying, “It’s America, you know. That sort of thing happens there.”

Photograph by Jessica Hill/AP.

See our full coverage of the Newtown shooting.

Read more: