Since Saturday’s tragic shootings in Arizona, America’s cable news channels have been flooded with analysts speculating about why.
They have bemoaned the state of America’s political discourse, called for leadership in toning down heated rhetoric, speculated over whether this is a turning point for Barack Obama or Sarah Palin and puzzled over the shooter’s mental state.
But one thing that has scarcely been raised is gun control.
America’s love affair with the gun is steeped in the nation’s foundational stories, particularly its history as a frontier society without an established military.
“The threat of French, Spanish and Indian hostility on the frontier meant that from the very beginning America was a society that relied very heavily on a population that is armed,” Saul Cornell, an American history professor at Fordham University in New York, told the BBC.
“Basically we had a militia as the organisational building block of internal and external defence.”
Jan Dizard, who teaches American culture at Amherst University, adds that Americans have a long history of sanctifying all that is associated culturally with “winning the west” and beating back Britain.
“The myth of the frontier, the myth of the individual defending him or herself against bad guys that the state is unwilling or unable to protect them from runs very, very deep,” Mr Dizard, a gun-owner and hunter himself, said in an interview.
Over time, gun ownership has become fused with a particular brand of American identity that prizes rugged individuality and libertarian notions of freedom – mostly freedom from government.
Most gun control advocates point the finger at the National Rifle Association (NRA) for stymieing the political will in Congress to act.
The NRA has a large, extremely well-funded political lobbying operation – deeply supported by weapons manufacturers – that will not brook any infringement on the constitutional right to bear arms.
For the NRA, that means no limits on access to high-powered weapons, no limits on the number of guns an individual can purchase, no waiting periods for prospective gun owners, and so on.
The organisation has an enormous capacity to run political ads for and against candidates, based on their gun politics.
Mr Cornell says that it also has a very loyal core of members who care about firearm freedom above all else. Passions mostly run higher among the gun owners than the regulators.
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Mentre sale l’attesa per l’arrivo nei negozi dell’iPad (qui in USA ora fissato a sabato 3 aprile), rincara la dose la fresca cover-story del mensile Wired: “How the Tablet Will Change the World“. Aggiungendo che l’iPad è solo l’inizio di quest’ennesima revolution, visti gli analoghi gadget in giro e/o in arrivo (da AT&T a Google). Hype a parte, lo special contiene utili osservazioni nonché le variegate opinioni di diversi addetti ai lavori — incluso Kevin Kelly che cita a sua volta Mr. Brian Eno, secondo il quale il “problem with computers was that there was not enough Africa in them.” Invece l’iPad e le altre tablet sarebbero qui per liberarci dalla tirannia della tastiera, sforzandoci in qualche modo a “employ the rest of our body, as if we were dancing or singing, we could express ourselves with greater finesse.” A dominare sarebbero così gestualità e fisicità, con le dita che scorrono sullo schermo e il device spostabile e godibile in varie posizioni. Cioè, quel tocco di Africa che mancava nell’informatica, necessario a rendere sempre più umana e volubile la fredda tecnologia. Sarà. Intanto però l’aggeggio non sembra soddisfare chi vuole un computer caldo ma comunque multioperativo (digitare on-screen pare impossibile e troppi finiranno per portarsi e dietro e attaccarci una normale tastiera) né chi non vuole o non può rinunciare alle animazioni ormai obbligatorie online (nada Flash), giusto per segnalare qualche inghippo del nuovo oggetto di culto in arrivo. Per non parlare dei super-lucchetti imposti da Apple al sistema e ai prodotti annessi. Ergo: meglio guardarsi intorno per altri modelli e attendere quantomeno iPad version 2.0. E intanto fantasticare al meglio con la cover-story di Wired…
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Nel caso qualcuno fosse curioso o non conoscesse Global Voices Online, ecco un bel pezzo-intervista oggi su Nazione Indiana – inclusivo di dettagli e dati aggiornati, oltre a note sull’operativita’ interna dell’intero progetto, info sempre utili a sapersi.
E many many thanks a Jan Reister e agli amici di Nazione Indiana!
Poco più di cinque anni fa Rebecca MacKinnon ed Ethan Zuckermann cercavano di capire come i blog ed il giornalismo partecipativo potessero favorire conversazioni dirette e più significative tra persone di Paesi diversi, soprattutto al di fuori del mondo occidentale e ben oltre la sfera alquanto uniforme dei media mainstream. …
Oggi Global Voices è cresciuta parecchio, diventando una rete-community che coinvolge oltre 200 autori volontari e traduttori in tutto il mondo, attorno ad un nucleo di coordinatori part-time. All’interno di Global Voices sono poi nati progetti specifici come Advocacy , dedicato alla libertà di espressione ed ai problemi di censura; Rising Voices, dedicato a piccole comunità e minoranze; e Lingua, il progetto di traduzione internazionale.
Dal maggio 2008 opera anche Global Voices in Italiano, che pubblica quotidianamente due-tre articoli tradotti da un gruppo affiatato di volontari, oltre a produrre saltuariamente articoli originali su questioni italiani e affini. Ho posto loro alcune domande ….
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[From the Progressive magazine website]
Thank You, Howard Zinn, for being there during the civil rights movement, for teaching at Spelman, for walking the picket lines, and for inspiring such students as Alice Walker and Marian Wright Edelman.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being there during the Vietnam War, for writing “The Logic of Withdrawal,” and for going to Hanoi.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for always being there.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a man who supported the women’s liberation movement, early on.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a straight who supported the gay and lesbian rights movement, early on.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a Jew who dared to criticize Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, early on.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a great man who didn’t believe in the “Great Man Theory of History.”
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for taking the time to write your landmark work, “A People’s History of the United States,” and for educating two generations now in the radical history of this country, a history, as you stressed, of class conflict.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for grasping the importance of transforming this book into “The People Speak,” the History Channel special that ran in December and that should be used by secondary, high school and college classes for as long as U.S. history is taught.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for opposing war, all wars, including our own “good wars,” our own “holy wars,” as you called them—and for pointing out that a “just cause” does not lead to a “just war.”
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for pointing out that soldiers don’t die for their country, but that they die for their political leaders who dupe them or conscript them into wars. And that they die for the corporations that profit from war.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for urging us to “renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed. We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.”
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for stressing that change comes from below, and that it comes at surprising times, even when things seem bleakest, if we organize to make it happen.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for stressing the value of engaging in action to make this world a better place, even if we don’t get there.
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for this amazing, inspiring paragraph, which I’ve had on my wall for years now:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacriﬁce, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magniﬁcently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an inﬁnite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in deﬁance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Thank you, Howard Zinn, for recognizing the beauty and power of culture, and for exalting the poet, the singer, the actor, the artist.
Thank you, Howard, for being kind enough to write your columns this last decade for a relatively obscure magazine called The Progressive, and for doing so with the utmost intelligence and grace.
Thank you, Howard, for calling me your editor.
Thank you, Howard, for your wry and self-deprecating sense of humor.
Thank you, Howard, for your kindness.
Thank you, Howard, for your friendship.
Thank you, Howard.
by Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine.
More at Howardzinn.org.
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