"At least 58 dead and 500 hurt in Las Vegas after gunman rains bullets on concert," the main page of the New York Times's website said yesterday morning. By nightfall, the death toll had risen to 59; the numbered injured to nearly 530.
A smaller headline beneath read: "Trump Calls for Unity After Act of Pure Evil."
But will United States President Donald Trump do anything about the metastasizing gun violence in the U.S., where, count on it, some gunned up, NRA-card-holding, paranoid lunatic -- almost certainly white, male, and "Christian" – is already plotting to break that record? Unlikely.
Beyond meaningless platitudes about prayer and unity, Mr. Trump is about as likely to do something, or even to say anything helpful, as he is to dispatch aid to hurricane-battered colonial Puerto Rico with alacrity and generosity.
However, as many have observed, it’s likely the Great Divider is beavering away behind the scenes to ensure nine million American children are immediately deprived of health insurance. The Great Deceiver is working on a plan to extend America's 17-year war in Afghanistan for another decade. The Great Denier will try to ensure that nothing is done about climate change -- or said about it, or taught about it, or studied.
These are easy criticisms to make because Mr. Trump makes them easy. He is so clearly not up to the task, so patently incompetent, the truth of the assertions is painfully obvious.
Mr. Trump is not just disinclined to help, however. He is largely powerless to do anything about the domestic firearms terrorism that stalks -- and, increasingly, paralyses -- the United States.
The serious question we Canadians really need to be pondering, as the United States’ next-door neighbour, is, can any other American do anything about it either?
It's not just Mr. Trump, after all. We have recently seen a much better man try, and fail, to deal with America’s unique brand of home-grown terror -- the inevitable spawn of the nation’s slave-holding heritage and its subsequent constitutional and jurisprudential history.
Mr. Trump’s own party is certainly not up to the task. After this, the Republicans are more likely to make it easier for lunatics to buy machine guns than harder. Neither is the other party. The U.S. Constitution is broken, unfixable.
So, this may not just be what terrorism looks like, in these apocalyptic times. It could very well be what a failed state looks like.
Why is this important for Canadians, other than the obvious facts that the failing state in question is a very large one, and right next door?
Well, where did most Ukrainian refugees flee as things in their country started to fall apart? Mostly, the narrative of the mainstream media and the Canadian political classes notwithstanding, to the bosom of Russia. Where do you think Americans are going to go if this keeps up south of the 49th?
In geopolitical commentator Pepe Escobar's inspired phrase, the neoliberals who wormed their way into control of the U.S. state a generation ago -- and who have not let go despite several attempts by the U.S. electorate to prize their fingers from the levers of power -- set out to create a worldwide Empire of Chaos.
Now it would appear instead of assuring the survival and prosperity of the class they represent, Chaos has slipped its leash and invaded the Homeland, George W. Bush’s Orwellian foreshadowing of America’s troubled present.
Yes, we have our own challenges here in Canada, as the events of the past few hours have shown right here in Edmonton. And we have our own dividers, as pathological as any of Mr. Trump’s congressional allies. But we also have an evolving constitution that, by and large, works as intended, and a historical as well as constitutional predilection toward peace, order and good government.
Alas, we can hardly build a wall along the U.S. border. Even if we could do so, we couldn’t expect to make the Americans pay for it. Not because they are too mighty, but, increasingly, because the opposite.
Things can’t fall apart? The centre’s sure to hold?
Never mind poetry. Think geopolitics. Do you remember how likely the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed to all but a few in 1988 or 1989? I do. Not very likely at all.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
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