Friday, April 19, 2013

The New Normal: Why We Cling To Religion and Guns

Fr. Dale Matson

“It’s a terrible situation in Boston. And, unfortunately … one gets the sense that this is more reflective of the ‘new normal,’ if you will,” he explained. “So much of society is changing so rapidly. [There is now a] ‘New normal’ when it comes to public security in a post-9/11 world. Where these random acts of violence, which at one time were implausible, now seem all-too-frequent.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo 04/19/13

I generally agree with Governor Cuomo. However, I would differ with him in that these acts of terrorism are not random, they are directed against soft targets and intended to have high visibility results. The chosen location (near the finish line) for the bombings had lots of cameras and the timing was when a large bloc of the runners would be coming through the area. Like 9/11, there is an important symbolism in the targeting of venues representing the American way of life like Patriot Day. We all know there will be more terrorist acts in the future. Those who live in big cities with fragile grids and high density populations are especially vulnerable.

As most Americans including me watched the events in Boston and the suburbs tragically unfold, there was a gnawing uncertainty about possible further terrorist acts, how many were involved and would the individuals be apprehended? To put it simply, America stood still for four days and held its breath while grieving for the dead and injured. I especially wondered how many of those in Boston and Watertown in ‘lock down’ had loaded guns at the ready in their homes. How many were praying for comfort and deliverance from this situation where millions of individuals were taken hostage by the uncertainty and threat?

This reminded me of the comment candidate Obama made in 2008 to a private audience in San Francisco about folks in Pennsylvania. “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." I believe folks in Pennsylvania were praying and clinging to their guns this week. They were not bitter. They were realistic. In the end, we are all responsible for our own safety. “Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. has a message for residents in his jurisdiction: You can't rely on him anymore. You need to arm yourself”.   The police in many smaller communities are a long distance phone call away. The lengthy response time dictates self-defense.

In the response to the Colorado and Sandy Hook massacres, there were those who advocated more than just increased gun regulation. There were those who argued against more than banning all semiautomatic weapons. There were those who advocated for elimination of the 2nd amendment. Many of these same individuals would never consider banning the 1st amendment where toxic levels of pornography and violence are protected and disseminated via the mass media.
What happened in Washington this past week was new gun legislation being voted down. Progressives saw this as an outrage. How could this be? Hadn't the president, some big city mayors and governors made a case for ‘reasonable’ gun legislation? The answer could be, because many of us cling to our guns and our religion. We see them both under attack. We are the old normal.        

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