It will come as a surprise to no one that the person who stormed into LA Airport yesterday with an assault rifle and several full 30-round clips was a
crazy young man who described himself as a “pissed off patriot” who wanted to kill “pigs.”
The shooter, Paul Ciancia, apparently hunted through the airport until he found someone who happened to have a job with the Transportation Safety Administration and then he killed him.
Because this mass-shooting resulted in relatively few casualties, the calls for gun control will likely be even more limited and short-lived than usual. And the pro-status-quo response, that we should instead increase mental-health policing and arm everyone in the country — including, presumably, TSA agents — won’t need to be particularly loud.
The truth is that today’s America is ok with these incidents, or at least accepts them as the price of freedom. It’s only when the carnage is particularly horrific — as in the Newtown tragedy — that Americans momentarily re-examine the wisdom of that view.
The only blessing of the LAX shooting, such as it is, is that Ciancia’s insanity was targeted at a particular sub-group of people — people who happened to be working for government-run organisations — and not people in general. If not for that, Ciancia could have slaughtered dozens of innocent Americans instead of just one.
But Ciancia wasn’t angry at “people.” He was angry at “pigs.” And using some heroically twisted logic, he somehow concluded that this view made him a “patriot.”
Needless to say, Ciancia wasn’t a patriot. He was a murderous wack-job. He killed one innocent American and wounded another.
Unfortunately, the political dialogue in this country these days has become so absurdly polarised — and the political rhetoric so hateful — that a good number of non-murderous Americans probably sympathize with some of Ciancia’s views. Specifically, they probably think that the country really is composed of good guys and bad guys and that anyone who happens to have a job at a government-funded agency is a bad guy.
(This happens with other sub-groups, too, of course. It’s much easier to view the world as black and white than to recognise that we’re all on a continuum and pretty much the same. Thus, we are continually focusing our animus on “bankers,” “lawyers,” “the 1%,” “the 47%,” the “makers” or “takers,” different races and religions, or dozens of other sub-groups, all of which are filled mostly with people who are very much like the rest of us.)
In light of what happened Friday, it seems time for the rest of us to say something clearly to all of the 22 million Americans who show up to work every day and do the jobs we collectively hire them to do — the teachers, firefighters, police, judges, Social Security and Medicare administrators, environmental protection agents, weather forecasters, scientists, homeland security agents, National Park Service rangers, Post Office workers, tax collectors, soldiers, policy-makers, and, yes, airport security agents…
“Thank you. You devote your working hours to trying to make this country better for all of us. While some of us may disagree with the laws and priorities that pay for your job, we don’t for a single second hold that against you. We thank you for your professionalism, commitment, and efforts on behalf of the rest of us. We’re all in this together, and you are doing exactly the same thing the rest of us are doing — your jobs. We wish you and your families all the best.”
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