American Exceptionalism Once Again

The last week before Labor Day and summer closes with a bang.  Literally, but in the old sense of the word.  Neither something strange nor anything new happened today.  How much less exceptional?  And while we’re talking about things unremarkable, like how being offended is a necessary feature of the perils of learning in college (Duke University) along with nature’s criticality that eventuates in crisis (fires, drought, climate change and its deniers), I am sure you heard about or saw the clip today of a perfect puff piece on local Virginia TV where the reporter and her cameraman are suddenly murdered on camera by a gunman.
I await Wayne LaPierre to tell us again how our 2nd Amendment rights would have protected us. Commentator Charlie Pierce said, “If this had happened in Somalia, we’d have a lot of earnest talk about the dangers of a failed society. If it had happened in Syria, Lindsey Graham might liquefy entirely and disappear in a rush down a storm drain. But it happened here, in the exceptional home of American exceptionalism, so, once again, we will be told that Alison Parker and Adam Ward are merely more of the price we pay for the exceptional exceptionalism of a free society.”
So here’s what happened to me after the initial human experience of horror. Don’t say “disbelief.” You know too that that’s not true. I think maybe you thought what I thought, “What would make this anything other than a typical day in America?” There was the shooter’s FB posting and it happened on live TV —where reality is the new old entertainment—but other than that, this is nothing new even as it qualifies as news. Sure, we will write to legislators, march for gun control laws and mental health services and even lobby to repeal the 2nd Amendment but if first graders gunned down in their classroom or worshipers gunned down in their church haven’t changed anything, neither will this. This is who we are. This is what America has come to. Don’t expect change anytime soon. Nothing exceptional happened today but the usual American exceptionalism. And that is the problem. This doesn’t mean things are hopeless. It means we live in worlds of our own making, and when stories like this are commonplace, we’re nothing like who imagine ourselves to be.
Here’s the NY Times link to the report:

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