the politics of disposability
TRUMP, GUNS AND THE WARNINGS OF HISTORY
HENRY A. GIROUX
A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair
Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural
Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship
at Ryerson University. He is the author of more than 50 books
including The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth
Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism.
Many of his essays, including The Spectacle of Illiteracy, appear
on his website at www.henryagiroux.com.
His interview with Bill
Moyers is must viewing. He was recently named one of
the century's 50 most significant contributors to the debate
COMMENTSThe ongoing crisis of democracy has two markers:
The erasure of memory and the politics of disposability.
the age of Donald Trump, history neither informs the present
nor haunts it with repressed memories of the past. It simply
seems especially true regarding the current cult of violence,
guns and domestic terrorism.
violence is not only evident in the horrors of early fascist
and Nazi regimes, but also in the massacre of Vietnamese infants
and children at My Lai , and in the guns turned repeatedly on
children in the United States, most recently in Florida.
estimated 188 shootings have occurred at U.S. schools and universities
since 2000. There will be no escape from mass violence in the
U.S. until it is placed within a broader historical, economic
and political context to address the totality of forces that
merely on mass shootings or meaningless gun-control laws does
not get to the root of the systemic forces that produce America’s
love affair with violence and the ideologies and criminogenic
institutions that produce it. Historical and social amnesia
in fact facilitates America’s addiction to violence.
is especially troubling when the “mobilizing passions
of a fascist past now emerge in a stream of hate, bigotry, lies
and militarism that are endlessly circulated at the highest
levels of the Trump administration and in powerful conservative
media such as Fox News, Breitbart News and conservative talk
right-wing media stalwarts have been joined by newcomers like
Clear Channel and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
so the politics of disposability, in which the well-being of
citizens, democratic ideals and the social contract are tossed
away, is no longer the discourse of marginalized extremists.
It’s now trumpeted daily by the conservative media machine
and exists at the highest levels of government.
is watching and listening, and so too is Trump himself. His
tweets often make reference to actual fake news, and not just
the stories he labels as such because they fail to fawn over
politics of disposability is increasingly evident not so much
in rise of mass shootings in the United States but in the fact
that they are getting deadlier, especially as they involve the
maiming and killing of children.
people, most of them teens, are now dead at the hands of a 19-year-old
shooter armed with an AR-15 assault rifle at Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. They won’t be the
last to die. The question is not if, but when, in a society
that has turned malignant with violence.
is indeed a cancer metastasizing through American society. The
proliferation and sales of guns as both an industry and form
of entertainment is at the heart of such violence. The profits
from weapons of war and death are now a more important investment
than investing in the safety, security and lives of young people.
logic of disposability and the war culture it legitimates was
on display recently as Trump listened to the impassioned testimony
of parents and children who have seen their children and friends
killed in gun shootings.
Donald Trump listens to Florida high school students and one
of their parents as they issue a plea for tougher gun laws at
the White House on Feb. 21, 2018.
responded by advocating for teachers to be armed and trained
to have concealed weapons. Instead of confronting the roots
of violence in America, he followed the NRA line of addressing
the epidemic of violence, mass shootings and the ongoing carnage
with a call for more guns. He normalized the insane logic that
mass violence can be met with more violence.
teacher would have shot the hell out of the gunman before he
knew what happened,” Trump said at the annual CPAC conference.
Trump, who was the recipient of US$30 million in campaign funds
from the NRA, channels its head, Wayne LaPierre, who calls for
more armed teachers, who trades in fear-mongering, who refers
to gun control advocates as “socialists.”
and LaPierre have no interest in preventing school shootings.
On the contrary, they want to “prepare for shootings”
by turning schools into war zones.
logic is breathtaking in its moral depravity, its refusal to
get to the root of the problem and its unwillingness even to
advocate for the most minor reforms such as banning assault
rifles, making illegal the sale of high-capacity ammunition
are 300 million guns in the United States and since the 2012
mass murder of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary
School, hundreds more children have died of gun violence. There
is no defence for putting the policies of the NRA ahead of the
lives of children.
acts often pass for legislative policies. How else to explain
the Florida legislature voting to refuse to even debate outlawing
assault weapons while students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School sat in the gallery and watched this wretched and
irresponsible act take place?
How else to explain that the U.S. House of Representatives,
seemingly reduced to an adjunct of the NRA, voted to pass a
law that would allow individuals to carry concealed weapons
across state lines?
are the people who have the blood of thousands on their hands.
The power of money in politics has morphed into a form of barbarism
in which financial gain and power have become more important
than protecting the lives of America’s children.
no longer have a safe space in America, a country saturated
in violence as a spectacle sport, its citizens routinely brutalized
by repeated deadly acts of domestic terrorism followed by the
criminal inaction of their elected representatives.
defence for the proliferation of guns, especially those designed
for war, is, in fact, criminal. It’s political corruption,
a government in the hands of the gun lobby, and a country that
trades in violence at every turn in order to accrue profits
at the expense of the lives of innocent children.
is how the logic of disposability works. This is how democracies
this debate is not simply about gun violence, it is about the
rule of capital and how the architects of violence accrue enough
power to turn the machinery of death and destruction into profits
while selling violence as a commodity.