Brown Shirts Don’t Make It

The news of the past weeks was more of the new normal covered by this blog, 12-16-14 “The New Normal”. “Well over 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from a mental disorder and owns a firearm” (approx. 30 million people). Discharging the effects of that illness through acts of violence has continued as one of their viable options according to their subjective interpretation. Sick, yes? But after all, it is an illness, and the availability of weaponry is much like that of large screen TV’s, automobiles, or cookware. It’s there, so why not use it? Flying low under the radar in all this, unnoticed and unreported, is the tacit acceptance and growth of the brown shirts. Brown shirts? Weren’t they the ultra-conservative, paramilitary political organizations throughout Europe (and to a limited degree the U.S.) during the depression years of the 1930’s? Indeed, it was so. Back then, war correspondence showed uniformed participants engaged in violent struggles in Ethiopia, China, Spain, etc. Brown shirts were called brown shirts because, well, they wore brown shirts to reproduce an appearance of uniformity. Today’s wars, it’s hard to tell whose side you are observing. For the most part combatants wear whatever street attire fashionable in that part of the world, with organized armies even attempting to blend in, be camouflaged. Gang colors are so yesterday. With the recent news events, Newark made overtures to being included with the bigs along precisely those lines. After one of the now “new normal” killing events, individuals with high powered firearms appeared at various shopping centers and storefronts; the same weaponry used by the perpetrators of the recent attacks. The attacks, one at a church, one at a U.S. military site, and the latest at a cinema (again) spawned these individuals to take it upon themselves to set up a perimeter to protect the U.S. military (who is there to protect the U.S.). Confused? Don’t be. It is part of being human to continuously repeat traumatic events in the hope they will dissipate, go away (grainy Pearl Harbor film, Edmund Pettus Bridge footage, Dallas assassination film, 911 video, etc.). What differs here is that the event is not being repeated through representations (narrative or visual) but through performance. The exceptionalism this performs is troubling. Carl Schmitt pointed out that “the political sovereign is the person who decides on the state of exception.” And exception to the 10% statistics previously cited certainly applies here (any grouping finds 10% of members owning firearms and suffering illness). This was witnessed by a shot being fired by a display of those volunteers doing just such “service” in Lancaster. In other circumstances, the news media would have described this as a shooting took place at the mall or gunman fires shots, etc. In this case it was quickly dismissed as an exceptional “accident.” According to the 10% statistics (borne out by recent events), the perpetrators of the mass killings were mentally, socially, emotionally ill individuals who responded to their internal torment through recourse to readily available means. Only in these cases it was with firearms. Statistically, the targeting of this disturbed response is as random and unpredictable as the individual perpetrators themselves – a school, a church, a cinema, a restaurant, a worksite, a military installation, etc. But the new brown shirts will address all that with the exception of themselves at the same time being not included in the otherwise indifferent 10% statistics. Perhaps in the future their interrogating gaze will be determining entrance and egress at day care centers, convenience stores or wherever else they are compelled to display their traumatic repetition performance. “The political sovereign is the person who decides on the state of exception.” Uniforms are so passé. Street clothes and camo are de rigueur.

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One Response to “Brown Shirts Don’t Make It”

  1. Daniel C. Says:

    Well said, as always, Stan.

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