Being one of the first-- if not the first-- to write a historical analysis regarding the recent "heinous act" in Arizona, Jonathan Alter should be commended. But the shooting of several people, including a judge and United States Representative, cannot be so simply dismissed as a victim of the country's "refusal to confront the stigma of mental illness" which is evident in the assassin, Jared Laughner,who "felt aggrieved by what he considered to be [Representative] Gifford's failure to answer a question he asked..." unless we are to read the piece as an exercise in futility. Despite the "rogues' gallery" timeline on the bottom of the page which describes some American assassins as people who either "dabbled in the occult while searching for a church," read "radical literature but never joined a political group," lived a "vivid fantasy life" or who "resembled his global peers," (a reference to the pro-slavery assassin, John Wilkes Booth), "American assassins," Alter writes, are "peculiar stalkers defined less by ideology than vague political and personal grievances." They are different in that those of "other countries" are "nearly always associated with extremist movements, religious fundamentalism, or criminal organizations." Alter's distinction is averred with no supplied evidence.
In his borderline racist conception of the world there are innocent, confused Americans on the one hand, and foreign zealots on the other, who are presumed to be too stupid to realize they are on the wrong side of mainstream American culture. We don't value "killing political leaders as a better form of self-expression," Alter writes, but instead merely must find ways to prevent the occasional violence by promoting the "funding and laws" needed for silencing what is "most likely a cacophony of voices within and without" the "sexually frustrated loners and misfits united only by their common background in social isolation" to impede a "path to mayhem."
But defending the Constitution's "[b]rilliance" of "Second Amendment protections" is not enough to overcome the "dismissive 'cowboy' critique so popular abroad" of a country "born in armed revolution, an idea not lost on Laughner." What these people disregard in error, in critiquing us, he says is that "winning the [American] West has a more winning quality than revisionists allow" even while it was "carved..with a gun" and "assumed a mythic place in America's definition of itself." Once again, the apologetics is backed up by no evidence.
Before ending the piece by quoting the President (as fascists notably do, often), he quotes Paul Schrader, the screenwriter of Taxi Driver:
"If you're filled with feelings of anger and self-loathing, you want to blame someone else. And people in the public eye are the ones that touch you.. because they're you're surrogate parents."If Alter believes we must address a stereotypical "cartoon" and the "fear today... that copycat assassins of mentally unstable individuals...may imitate a new round of prolonged political violence" he should "focus his thoughts" on himself and his own "vivid fantasy life, turning on the topics of omnipotence and power, through which" one might "try to compensate for his present shortcomings and frustrations." He should put aside for now "what matters" according to President Obama who quite possibly is his own "surrogate parent" in this situation, along with a movie screenwriter.