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William Rivers Pitt: Resolve to Remember the Butcher's Bill

Resolve to Remember the Butcher's Bill

Tuesday, 01 January 2013 08:52
By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

It was my intention, with this final article of 2012, to make some sort of grand and sweeping assessment, a capstone argument, a clear-eyed statement of purpose in which...

Nope. Nothing there. I tried. I failed.

The well is dry, the socket has no charge, Casey has no bat. The Mayans were wrong; that's all I can muster.

The end of 2012 is something I greet in a state of exhaustion, horror, and sorrow. Every attempt to encompass these last 365 days has beggared me. Hell, the headlines over the last 72 hours alone have been enough to drive a man into the arms of serious drink.

Consider: During Sunday's interview with Obama on "Meet The Press," host David Gregory burnished his scumbag credentials by challenging the president to "talk tough" with seniors about the cuts he thinks they should absorb in Social Security and Medicare. No mention of any cuts whatsoever to the pornographic funding given to the "Defense" Department was made.

Consider: On Saturday, Naomi Wolf detailed how the savage nationwide crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement was coordinated with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, local police...and a number of big banks. The information Wolf described in her article "shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens."

Consider: The Senate passed a $60 billion aid package for the regions devastated by Hurricane Sandy, a signal event in Washington DC: something got done. However the bill, as of Sunday, was not on the schedule of work for the House of Representatives , which means that help is going nowhere near the needy. "House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky and other conservatives are calling for a much smaller bill to cover only the most urgent needs," said a Gannett report, "putting off until 2013 legislation to address long-term needs such as protecting beaches and transportation networks from another storm."

Oh, and the NRA thinks more guns are the answer, hundreds more people have been shot in America since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the President just signed off on a five-year FISA extension that makes the Fourth Amendment weep, but milk prices won't explode to $7.00 a gallon for the time being, so never let it be said that nothing gets done in Washington.

I'm not going to bother addressing the "fiscal cliff" nonsense, which at the time of this writing remains unresolved. A nation that elects the kind of officials who would willfully unleash this mayhem on the populace is a nation, sadly, that deserves whatever it gets.

So, yeah, if you're looking for something to hang your hat on, a proclamation of hope, a way to put the gruesome year 2012 in perspective, don't look to me.

All I have is the butcher's bill.

In, if you can believe it, severely abbreviated form.

On January 5th, bombings in Baghdad and Nasiriyah killed 73 people and wounded 149 others. On the 14th, bombs in Basra killed 53 and wounded 151. On January 25th, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) stepped to the floor of the House of Representatives to formally announce her resignation from that legislative body in order to focus on her rehabilitation. Nearly a year ago to the day, Rep. Giffords was shot through the skull by Jared Lee Loughner as she met with constituents. In the end, six people were killed and 19 were wounded, along with Rep. Giffords, in that attack.

On February 22nd, five people were shot and killed in a Korean health spa in Georgia, victims of what police later described as a domestic violence-related attack. On February 23rd, attacks across Iraq killed 83 people and wounded 250 more. On February 26th, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman as he walked home from a local store in Florida. On February 27th, three students were shot and killed by a classmate at Chardon High School in Ohio.

On March 8th, a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh hospital, killing two people and wounding seven more. On March 11th, a US soldier in Kandahar Province went on a house-to-house shooting spree, killing 17 people and wounding five; among the dead were nine children and three women. On March 20th, a series of attacks in Baghdad and Karbala killed 52 people and wounded 250 others. On March 31st, a gunman opened fire at mourners in a funeral home in North Miami, killing two and wounding 12.

On April 2nd, a man named One L. Goh opened fire at Oikos University in Oakland, California, killing seven people and wounding three others. On April 6th, two men in Tulsa, Oklahoma want on a racially-motivated shooting spree, killing three Black men and wounding two. On April 19th, the 17th anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, a series of attacks across Iraq kill 33 people and wounded dozens more.

On May 2nd, J.T. Ready, leader of a border militia group, shot and killed four people before turning his gun on himself in Phoenix. On May 24th, a drone strike hit a mosque during morning prayer services, killing 12, including three civilians. On May 29th, a man in Seattle opened fire in a coffee shop, killing five before killing himself.

On June 13th, attacks across Iraq killed 93 people and wounded 300 more. In America, it was a quiet month for mass shootings; only the average daily total of 200 or more shootings nationally was tallied.

On July 20th, James Holmes entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire with a 12-gague Remington shotgun, a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, and a Glock 22 handgun; 12 people were killed and 58 others were wounded. On July 23rd, attacks across Iraq killed 116 and wounded 299.

On August 5th, a man named Wade Michael Page opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing seven and wounding four before killing himself. On August 13th, attacks across Iraq killed 128 people and wounded 400. On August 14th, a gunman opened fire on the campus of Texas A&M, killing three people, including a police officer. On August 24th, a man named Jeffrey Johnson opened fire outside the Empire State Building in New York City, killing a former co-worker. Responding police officers killed Johnson with a volley of 16 bullets that also wound nine bystanders.

On September 9th, attacks across Iraq killed 108 people and wounded 370. On September 11, the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, a coordinated assault on the US consulate in Benghazi killed US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others. On September 27th, a gunman entered his former workplace in Minneapolis and opened fire, killing five people and wounding three before killing himself.

On October 21st, a gunman opened fire in a Wisconsin spa, killing three women, including his wife, and wounding four others. Aside from the on-average 200 other shootings that day, there were no other incidents of mass killings in America that month.

On November 27th, a series of car bombings across Iraq killed 29 people and wounded 126. Aside from the on-average 200 or so daily shootings, it was quiet in America.

On December 11th, a gunman opened fire in an Oregon mall, killing two people before killing himself. On December 14th, Adam Lanza killed 20 children, six adults and himself with an assault rifle at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It was the 16th mass shooting in America in 2012. On December 16th, attacks across Iraq killed 111 people and wounded 290 more.

...and so, we now embark upon another year in which can be expected more of the same.

"Nature puts no question, and answers none which we mortals ask," said Henry David Thoreau. "She has long ago taken her resolution."

I have nothing, here at this bitter end of a bitter year, but one request: remember. It is an American tradition to forget, to "move on," to dispense with the unpleasant and embrace our common and pleasant mythology; indeed, that mythology is made and sustained by forgetting, and in the forgetting, we grow weaker in our ignorance, but angrier and more violent with our embrace of the myths.

Remember the year 2012, in which several Rubicons were crossed. Maybe, if we don't forget, we have a chance to do better.

Remember, America.


Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

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