Stagger onward rejoicing

Tag: violence (page 1 of 1)

getting what you ask for

More familiar instances of toxic masculinity concern the wanton infliction of violence, especially the sexual kind, especially upon women and girls. Yet on the other side of the wall was, it seems, another sort of toxic masculinity — a platoon of armed and trained men who had evidently come to rely so heavily on guns and armor in lieu of courage and strength that they found themselves bereft of the latter when outdone in the former. Instead they were beset by cowardice, evidently as convinced as the shooter was that the gun really does make the man, and that outgunned is thus as good as outmanned.

In its own imagination, Texas is the land of men who would never admit defeat at all, much less surrender instantly with decent odds and innocent lives at stake: Surely its police ought to feel the highest and noblest sort of calling to valor, the type of vocation that surpasses profession and speaks to a person’s mission in life. Or perhaps those things, too, all the militarism and bravado, the heady authority and free respect, the unearned certainty in one’s own capacities provoked by so many Punisher bumper stickers and decals, had the same corrupting effect as the guns and body armor. Eventually, one either develops their own virtues or finds they’ve developed vices instead.

— Elizabeth Bruenig. The only thing worse, for a community, than what Radley Balko has famously called the “warrior cop” is a bunch of people who are cosplaying warrior cops.

Balko has often over the years pointed to the recruitment strategies of police departments, which commonly feature images of men in body armor riding in military assault vehicles. When your recruiting strategy targets people who get excited by that kind of thing, you get what you ask for — instead of, for instance, finding people who take satisfaction in serving and protecting the community. But even if you get emotionally immature recruits, you can train them in better ways. Alas, as Bruenig suggests, at places like Uvalde the emphasis seems to be on exacerbating their recruits’ vices rather than cultivating their virtues.

You have to hope and pray that the shame of Uvalde will cause police departments around the country to reflect on the kind of men they’re hiring — and the kind of men they’re making. But the rot is so deep that it’s hard to be hopeful.

UPDATE: Arthur Rizer: “So much of this turns out to be LARPing: half-trained, half-formed kids playing soldier in America’s streets and schools. Many of the thousands of SWAT-team members in this country don’t have the training and expertise to respond like they’re SEAL Team 6. It’s time to stop pretending that they do.”

sauce, goose, gander

A typically and blessedly thoughtful reflection from Noah Millman:

On both sides of the aisle, there is increasing acceptance of the idea that our political institutions are illegitimate, which while it isn’t in itself a call to violence effectively disarms the strongest argument against violence. This is most obvious on the Republican side, something the ongoing January 6th hearings have provided a powerful reminder of. A huge percentage of the GOP rank and file believe that the last election was stolen and therefore that the current government is illegitimate, and while only a tiny minority participated in violence in response on that fatal day, it’s difficult in practice to convincingly disavow that response without forcefully rejecting the premise that justified it. Not only has the party leadership mostly failed to do that, but a substantial fraction — most especially the former president — have done precisely the opposite.

But the rhetoric on the left side of the aisle with regards to the courts specifically has been extremely cavalier in suggesting that the Supreme Court in particular is no longer legitimate, and that certain decisions it might make would be in some sense inherently counter-democratic. And while I’m not going to nut-pick and compare the occasional lone wolf lunatic to a mass movement, there’s far more widespread acceptance of things like picketing Supreme Court Justices’ homes, which in and of itself undermines the legitimacy of their decisions by suggesting that they ought to be influenced by such protests in making their decisions, which, if they are to do their jobs properly, they should not. And that, in turn, makes it harder to refute the case for violence. 

Let me add just one point: It’s become increasingly common, I think, for people to justify acts of intimidation, and sometimes actual violence, against their political enemies but not, of course, against their allies. (Threatening Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi is okay, but threatening Brett Kavanaugh is indefensible — or the other way around.) But when people whose politics differs from your own see you advocating intimidation against politicians or judges that you hate, they will definitely think they’re entitled to a piece of that action. You’re drawing up a set of instructions and handing it to them. So you can say that you want to allow the tactics of intimidation and threat and even violence only to those you believe to be right, but what you are actually doing, and can’t not do, is advocating a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man.” 


I want to connect a post of mine from five years ago — 

There are always questions. Which ones arise — that’s not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the questions that are presented to us. My one consistent position in all these matters is to resist taking the nuclear option of excommunication. It is the strongest censure we have, and therefore one not to be invoked except with the greatest reluctance. Further, I don’t think the patience that St. Paul commands is to be exhausted in a few years, or even a few decades. We need to learn to think in larger chunks of time, and to consider the worldwide, not just the local American and Western European, context. Many of us tend to think that, if we haven’t convinced someone after a few tweets and blog posts, we can be done with them and the questions they bring. But the time-frame of social media is not the time-frame of Christ’s Church.

— with a post of mine from ten days ago

So it turns out that “the economic way of looking at life” – which is pretty much the American way of looking at life, and certainly the Silicon Valley way – means that you think of time as a scarce consumable resource. Which is indeed how most of us, it seems, think about time, and that, in turn, is why we might experience the idea of traveling at the speed of God as not just wrong but, more, offensive – a failure to maximize consumption.

Breaking that habit of thought, and imagining how to move at the speed of God – these are real and vital challenges. Maybe the first thing we need to learn how to repair is our disordered sense of time — time is not a scarce resource but rather a gift. 

Increasingly I am convinced that we can’t make the changes we need to make — and I’m thinking not just of Christians, but also of all members of our current social order — until we reset our understanding and experience of time.

I even wonder whether the problem I posted about earlier today — what seems to me our increasing reluctance to pursue common rules for the social order, our disdain for proceduralism — is an outgrowth of a diseased experience of time. If we knew, if we really knew, that the people we despise are going to be our neighbors for the rest of our lives, then maybe we’d see the value in coming to some sort of procedural agreement with them before the shooting begins

But then the shooting has already begun, hasn’t it? 

Kevin Williamson:

On Memorial Day, we remember those who took up arms because they thought their civilization represented something good and worth preserving. But we increasingly take up arms for the opposite reason: because we believe this society to be corrupt, failing, doomed. We half dread the possibility of breakdown and bloodshed — and are made half-giddy by it, too.

And that is a dangerous state of affairs. Americans don’t have a well-regulated militia — we don’t have a well-regulated anything.