I thoroughly agree with most of this but think we are heading for a showdown a little earlier, may be even within the next generation? Wealth and inequality is now only a part of the overall picture and I think once climate change ramps up we may see more rapid changes.
Thank you for a very thoughtful article.
I watched a documentary by Noam Chomsky the other day – Requiem to the American Dream. It was thought-provoking. I remember him being invoked as a world intellectual back when I was studying anthropology – Chomsky was a linguist – and he has to be one of the most thoughtful people around today. Not everybody agrees with him, but what he says has gravitas and reason: we must, at the very least, consider his wisdom.
The thrust of the documentary was the insidious way that democracy is manipulated by big business: he argued that democracy and capitalism are opposing ideologies. To Chomsky, the ‘neoliberal’ revolution of the 1980s – which essentially led to the current imbalances of wealth and the power of the corporates – was a reaction to the growing strength of democracy during the post-Second World War decades. And he showed the ways in which big business…
The Second Amendment is the lever for mass genocide in America. Every day Americans witness another mass killing or wanton murder. Road rage shootings. Family violence. Workplace shootouts. Shootouts in churches, parking lots, malls, grocery stores, Walmart’s, and on every highway and byway in America. Twelve-year-old children taking guns to schools to kill as many people as they can. Husbands killing entire families in a rampage. Employees terminated coming back to assassinate former co-workers and their ex-bosses. And throughout ever one of these berserk episodes of violence, the same old tired excuses are made:
We need more mental health training
We need more guns to protect the innocent from the maniacs
We need better ways to screen people before they can purchase a gun
Guns don’t kill people, people do
When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns
We can never stop gun violence
We are so sorry for your loss and we offer our prayers for the survivors
There is not a nicer or more politic way to call the state of gun violence in America for what it really is. It is predictable state sponsored genocide supported by bullshit excuses made by cowards and sycophants who pander to the maniacs who are too afraid to go to sleep at night without a gun under their pillow.
Cops add to the death toll because they know that any person walking on the street might be armed and dangerous. Once upon a time, cops asked questions and shot later. Today, the fear and paranoia of society drives police departments as well. Cops now shoot first and never ask questions. In one sense, it is hard to blame them when everyone in the good old USA is probably better armed then they are.
There are those on the left and right who will defend gun ownership. Asshole judges strike down laws that communities try to establish to protect themselves from gun violence. These same assholes live in gated upper-class communities and remain far removed from the violence that they create with their legal shenanigans.
In the first paragraph of his 94-page opinion, Judge Benitez lays out the heart of his reasoning colloquially: “The popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller…and United States v Miller….” — From “Reason” by Brian Doherty
This logic is simply bizarre. It is almost beyond comprehension. A rifle based on a cartridge designed during the Vietnam War is now touted as a “perfect” defense weapon. It sounds like every home should buy one. Americans live in a country where there is no protection from crime according to the NRA and gun manufacturers. The NRA kisses the asses of manufacturers to grab more and more power as they perform like Pied Pipers for their members. “Come along, buy a gun, protect your rights, protect your family and children. Don’t let the criminals make a victim of you.” The NRA is a monster that has metastasized on the fears of Americans. Politicians court the money and votes of NRA members to get re-elected knowing fear is a great motivator. To paraphrase a comment made by the Nazi Hermann Goering:
“The people can always be convinced to buy more and more guns. It is easy. All you have to do is tell the average person that they may be victimized by criminals and denounce the gun control people for lack of patriotism.”
“The more guns we have the safer we will all be,” scream the gun fanatics. I have neighbors walking around in their yards with guns strapped on their hips. I often see shoppers in some stores sporting revolvers and automatics on their belts. Walmart’s has asked that shoppers do not open carry guns. Do you know why? It is because people get nervous when they see these idiots walking around with pistols on their belts. I worry more about being shot by one of these jerks than I do by some armed robber. In the event of a store robbery, I suspect I might be more likely to be shot by the so called “good guy with a gun.”
We can have countless and fruitless arguments over what and why the Founding Fathers included the 2nd Amendment. We will never know, and it really does not matter. We are not living in 1789. What I do know is that a six-year-old child named Aiden was riding in a car seat with his mom who was driving him to kindergarten. Suddenly Aiden exclaimed, “Mommy, my tommy hurts.” Aiden Leos died before they could get him to a hospital. He died when two assholes with guns decided to shoot at his car because of some perceived violation of their road rights. The two assholes decided that their second amendment rights trumped the rights of Aiden and his family.
I am sick and tired of reading about these instances of insanity. I am increasingly worried that one of these bizarre situations will befall someone I love or even my wife and me. They are occurring with more and more frequency and more and more randomness. No one is safe. Carrying a gun on you does not make you safe. Having a concealed carry permit does not make you safe. Being a nice person and an honest citizen does not make you safe. We are being victimized by lovers of the Second Amendment. Our next-door neighbors who think that by arming themselves and everyone around them, we will all be safer. Was anyone really ever stupid enough to belief this. How much more evidence is needed to contradict any such assumptions. What will it take for these morons who distort the Second Amendment to realize the dangers that they have brought to our country?
I admit that I have always liked guns, knives, rifles, and assorted military hardware. However, I like them in their place. Rifles for hunting when hunting is a sport and not a crap shoot like so much of it is today. Baiting bears with donuts and then shooting them from a tree perch does not seem very sporting to me. I like target shooting. I enjoy shooting some black powder pistols that I own. A friend gave me an old revolutionary style musket which is fun to shoot. I do not shoot at squirrels or birds or rabbits. I use it for target practice. I am not against hunting deer, elk, and other animals for food. Many people in rural areas depend on game animals to supplement their diets in lieu of costly meats at a grocery store.
The problem with guns comes when we ignore the unintended consequences of gun ownership. When we create a climate where every idiot and moron in the country is carrying a gun. Who are these idiots and morons you may well ask? They are you and me and my friends and friends of my friends. They are everyone who might get stressed out someday and lose their common sense. They are people who become depressed and give up on life. They are people who become so angry with perceived injustices that they want to strike out at anyone for revenge. They are everyone and anyone. They are the man or woman or child that is walking down the street. They are your mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, or best friend. They are the quiet guy who lives down the block. They are the helpful next-door neighbor. They are the quiet student who sits in the back of the class. They are the military recruit who somehow loses it and goes on a shooting rampage.
I don’t know who might kill you. I don’t know when they might kill you. I don’t know why they might kill you. Best odds are that it will be totally random, and you will never see it coming. You will never know when it will happen. The statistics show that you have a 75 percent chance that if you are murdered it will be by a gun and not by poison or a knife. (Number of homicide victims, by method used to commit the homicide)
The USA has become a warped and bastardized version of the “Old West.” Gun advocates like to portray themselves as upholders of the “Code of the West.” In their mystic interpretation of events, people walked around with guns wherever they went. Supposedly this was because of the lack of “law and order.” In reality,
Most western towns had ordinances prohibiting carrying of guns in town.
There were few old-fashioned gun fights in a front facing mano a mano style.
Cowboys on the range did not wear their guns all day long but kept them in the chuck wagon.
The “old west of the cowboys and cattle drives” lasted less than fifty years.
Towns established police departments and law and order rules as quickly as they were able to as many of the new territories soon became states.
How then have we gone from sanity to insanity? From being able to walk down a street or go to work or school and not worry about some nut case coming in and killing us? When did America go from being a country with “Law and Order” to a country where everyone needs to carry a gun to protect themselves? How have we let the politicians, NRA and gun manufacturers convince everyone that it is not safe to walk outside without a concealed carry permit and a Glock or Smith & Wesson hidden someplace beneath our bullet proof vest?
The answer is simple. Eliminate fear. Eliminate open and concealed carry laws. Guns are for home protection and hunting. We have created a country where there is no place to be safe anymore. Everyone has the potential to be the next killer, or the next asshole gone crazy. No amount of mental health training is going to stop the mad rampage of gun deaths in America. The only thing that will stop this is when people realize the obvious. Guns are not making us safer; they are killing us.
Tyee contributing editor Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning journalist whose books and articles focus on epidemics, the energy industry, nature and more
You have probably never heard of Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, but I can tell you this: he would not have been shocked or surprised by the discovery of a mass grave on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School last week.
He knew, like Faulkner, that the past is never dead. “It is not even past.”
For 15 years, Canada’s first chief officer of medical health repeatedly warned his superiors that the country’s disease-riddled residential schools had become glorified tuberculosis death camps. He courageously pressed for reforms.
But Bryce’s superiors didn’t listen. They didn’t want to know the truth, and made the physician’s job impossible as only bureaucrats can do.
Bryce titled his book The Story of a National Crime. The year was 1922.
Canada, a nation full of deep secrets and afflicted by selective memories, can no longer keep this “national crime” hidden anymore.
Nations can deny history, ignore history, minimize history, postpone history and even rewrite history.
But they can’t grow up without facing history for a simple reason. “Knowing the before lets you create a different after.”
The before started a century ago. Educated in Edinburgh, Toronto and Paris, the native of Mount Pleasant, Ontario took up the job of chief officer of medical health in 1904 for Immigration and Indian Affairs.
One of the first statistics that caught Bryce’s eye was this: First Nations reported very low levels of nervous disorders and alcoholism. But tuberculosis was eating their people alive.
The disease had a powerful colonial history. Prior to the eradication of the buffalo and the destruction of an entire ecosystem on the Canadian plains, tuberculosis was rare or non-existent. Although the fur trade had seeded the bacterium, it needed crowding, hunger and homelessness to erupt.
The federal government dutifully provided those conditions after the extermination of buffalo, the chief source of nutrition for many Indigenous peoples.
By withholding food rations, the government forced First Nations into signing treaties and herded 300 different nations into often inhospitable reserves where disease and the politics of starvation became their treaty companions.
As a result, TB began a terrible conquest of Indigenous peoples and helped, along with smallpox and other European microbes, to clear the plains for white settlement.
Cattle, the European replacement for buffalo, also carried a host of diseases including anthrax, brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis.
One infected cow, whether poached or purchased by the government, could infect 100 hungry and immunocompromised Indigenous people with the lung disease.
But the racist theory of the day held that Indigenous people were just weaker than Europeans or naturally inclined to get TB.
Bryce, an expert in the disease, didn’t believe the nonsense and proved it when the government asked him to inspect health conditions in residential schools in 1907.
The federal government set up the schools in 1883 as a colonial force to “assimilate” First Nations and turn them into farmers and fellow extractors of resources.
The schools were, pure and simple, a state-sanctioned tool to remove the culture and identity of subjugated people. The federal government wanted to do to First Nations what the British did to Highland Scots: dispossess them.
Bryce spent three months visiting 35 schools in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories (then including Saskatchewan and Alberta), all located in former buffalo country where people were now starving or undernourished. He found one indignity after another. The buildings were poorly-constructed firetraps with inadequate water supplies. Most had no infirmary. Or proper food supplies.
The schools’ poor ventilation combined with their prison-like atmosphere appalled Bryce. It was “almost as if the prime conditions for the outbreak of epidemics had been deliberately created.”
Bryce noted that the agents of colonialism, the teachers and church officials running the schools, were also reluctant to collection information on the fate of their pupils. He discovered why. In what is today Saskatchewan, of 31 students discharged from the notorious File Hills Indian Residential School in the previous 15 years, only nine had remained alive.
Bryce calculated that the residential schools acted as TB incubators and superspreaders. If children didn’t have TB before they arrived, they immediately contracted the disease in crowded dormitories where children weren’t even allowed to exercise.
And if they were too sick to occupy a desk, they were sent back to their communities, where they spread the disease in crowded reserve housing.
After questioning the principals of some of the schools, Bryce estimated that approximately one-quarter of all Indigenous children attending residential schools for the last 15 years had died from tuberculosis. He wrote that “of a total of 1,537 pupils reported upon, nearly 25 per cent are dead, of one school with an absolutely accurate statement, 69 per cent of ex-pupils are dead, and that everywhere the almost invariable cause of death given is tuberculosis.”
In other words, residential schools typically prepared Indigenous children not for life but death.
Someone eventually leaked what became known as “the Bryce report” to the press where it produced this headline: “Schools Aid White Plague — Startling Death Rolls Revealed Among Indians — Absolute Inattention to the Bare Necessities of Health.”
But most Canadians did not know, care or understand.
Bryce ultimately recommended a dramatic prescription for Canada’s plague schools: supervised medical care (nurses and doctors), better nutrition and better ventilation. (Like COVID-19, tuberculosis is spread by aerosols.)
Bryce also thought the schools should be relocated closer to Indigenous communities. And he recommended that the government take over the schools outright and turn them into sanatoria where First Nations children would live instead of die.
Bryce was no opponent of the colonial order. It was merely that, as historian Adam J. Green notes, “Although assimilation would have certainly been the goal of Bryce’s Aboriginal policy, forced extinction was not.”
Yet neither the government nor churches were impressed by Bryce’s recommendations. They dithered and dallied and calculated the economic costs.
The government then performed the bare minimum “to remove the imputation that the department is careless of the interests of these children.” It set a few standards for diet and ventilation, banned tubercular students and increased the grant for the schools by a small amount. But the children still kept on dying.
Duncan Campbell Scott, the penny-pinching head of Indian Affairs, couldn’t see why the scandalous procession of Indigenous children from boarding schools to unmarked graves was so upsetting.
“When the peculiar conditions are taken into consideration, the department is doing as well as can be expected for the Indians, and to anything further would entail a very heavy expenditure, which, at present, I am not able to recommend.”
Bryce kept on fighting and compiling more statistics. In 1909, the official found more bleak conditions in Alberta. At one school more than 28 per cent of the children had perished, mostly from tuberculosis. Another study in Saskatchewan found 93 per cent of children in the Qu’appelle district were afflicted by TB.
Bryce could see no moral reason why the government could ever tolerate a TB “death rate” among First Nations two to three times higher “than that of an average Canadian community.”
But government didn’t care. By 1914, the Department of Indian Affairs had tired of Bryce’s statistics, and pointedly sidelined the chief medical officer.
Scott, then head of Indian Affairs, informed Bryce that his annual medical reports on TB and residential schools weren’t needed anymore. They cost too much, and the government didn’t really plan on doing anything with the information anyway.
And so the Canadian government, demonstrating a bent instinct for evasion and denial that persists to this very day, never asked Bryce to do any more work related to the Department of Indian Affairs.
Yet Bryce persisted. In a 1918 pamphlet that the government refused to publish, Bryce estimated that the Indigenous population, given the national birth rate, should have grown by 20,000 people between 1904 and 1917. Instead, it shrank by 1,600 — largely due to treatable diseases such as TB.
Irritated by Bryce’s conscience, the government refused to provide its health officer with any more mortality statistics on First Nations. A problem doesn’t exist if a government doesn’t record it.
In 1921, the federal government passed a law that forced Bryce to retire from federal service after 15 years as chief officer of medical health.
But the physician’s heart could not keep silent. The following year he publishedThe Story of a National Crime: An Appeal for Justice for the Indians of Canada. It sold for 35 cents a copy. The book named names and documented the ongoing neglect, complacency and inaction that Bryce witnessed for 15 years.
What bothered Bryce most was the government’s refusal to act, let alone acknowledge the problem: 15 years after his first report, TB still killed children in residential schools at the same alarming rates documented in 1907.
Bryce also decried the implicit racism in the government’s TB response, which disturbingly mirrors in so many ways the current government’s unequal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where’s the justice, asked Bryce, in a government that can only allocate $10,000 for the control and treatment of tuberculosis among 105,000 Indigenous people but provides more than $33,000 for the 100,000 white settlers of Ottawa just to handle the hospitalization of their TB victims?
How is it that the city of Hamilton could reduce TB by 75 per cent between 1904 and 1917, yet nothing had been done to keep TB from killing “a splendid race of warriors as the Blackfeet” in Alberta?
The “desire for power,” concluded Bryce, repeatedly over-rode “any higher consideration such as saving the lives of the Indians,” in Ottawa.
But little changed after the book’s publication. Health care for Indigenous people wouldn’t become a government priority for decades.
Until 1945, the minister of mines and resources remained officially responsible for the health of First Nations people, as though TB had become some perverse mineral.
In 1934, the doctor died while on a trip to the Caribbean.
Last year an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal by Cindy Blackstock, a courageous advocate for Indigenous children, described Bryce as “the whistleblower on residential schools.”
An investigation into the legacy of residential schools and their survivors didn’t begin until a decade ago.