Tuesday, March 22, 2005

COM: Red Lake

Something tells me that we have been most lucky to have not endured another Columbinish horror before yesterday. For a lot of reasons, many that i can't quite elucidate yet, i thnk the country has been ripe.

Recurrent headlines about busts of potential shooters just before their sprees has cemented in me some gut feeling that we were overdue.

One of those things i can't quite form the words for (among several topics on this blog that i need to return to some day) is something that i've been again considering writing at length about, especially in light of the Schiavo affair -- my idea that rather than a "culture of life" this administration, backed by a certain shrill faction that is its own worst enemy, has instead created a "culture of death". In brief mention, i could point to Texas as a boiling pot of death with our death row machine, and the oft-callous disregard for the barest of protections; a scandal-ridden Texas child protection agency, perhaps second only to that other newsworthy Bush fiefdom Florida; war (justified or not); wholesale attacks on the credibility and fairness of judges of all levels and stripes; the john waynish posturing; Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, semi-trailers in Afghanistan; and more i can't think of right now. The general attitude of "i'm always right"ers like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, and the commander is a kind of "make my day" hubris that fires up boys with guns.

In effect we have licensed an entire generation to take things into their own hands.

Was there anyone anywhere who was really surprised at torture in American war prisons? (I didn't ask if you approved or were disgusted.) I wondered why it took so long for the CIA doing what it pleased story to break. Surely everyone understood that we were getting some awfully good information awfully fast from a cadre of supposedly "die-for-the-cause" fanatics.

The saddest part of the Red Lake incident (though i'm sure that the worldview allowed by, though not encouraged by, access to the net was bound to beget this sooner or later) is that it was committed by a young Ojibway (Anishnabe brothers, esokapi) against his own people. Well, that's what you might expect if he just went to his school and began firing, seeing as it was on the Red Lake Rez. But there may be a more sinister modus. National media are reporting that he frequented nationalist websites including one where he lambasted natives marrying outside the culture. The site is nationalist oriented but welcomes anyone of color who is opposed to race-mixing. And so it appears they pulled in this young man.

Several things seem clear: that he was bullied -- which is a more important item for a national debate than Mrs. Schiavo IMHO (though i'm not entirely unsympathetic about that) -- ; that he was bereft of friends; that he had been in trouble; and that he had had a life bathed in tragedy. Based on what we were told during the decade of school shootings, this one seems to fit neatly into the predictive pigeonholes. Just not for a Native American youngster. This will likely cause deeper pain within the community than almost anything else could. It is a wound that will not soon heal (which is not to belittle Columbine -- but there were a lot of fingers pointing outward there, here they will point elsewhere).

Finally, i read a number of blogs tonight (sorry i didn't keep track this time; will try to catch up as i run across them again) who opined that a school shooting resulting in ten deaths should quickly take over the headlines from Terri Schiavo. But of course, it didn't. It's mostly been the number two story. Bloggers have likewise suggested that had it happened in a neighborhood like Columbine's the shift would indeed have focused. That point cannot be lost. And that too needs to be a topic of national debate if indeed there is any real push for a "culture of life".

The Liquid List

Purportedly the blog of the young man.

News analysis from
The New York Times.

Like Kryptonite to Stupid -- Oliver Willis.

I am adding the later updates below here for archiving purposes:

From March 26, 2005
Purpose at Red Lake MSNBC

Teaching us all about dignity CNN

and The Long Road to Healing New York Times

And way too much of nothing way too late (Yahoo News)

Thanks to Crooked Timber and DailyKos for the outrage

Orcinus -- The Succubus

Orcinus -- The Fruits of Hate

Pandagon -- The Culture of White Life

From March 27, 2005
Guest post at Peacefile by Susan van Haitsma weighs in on Red Lake and guns.

From March 29, 2005
from CNN: Tribal chairman's son arrested

from The New York Times: Tribe dismayed over arrest

From April 1, 2005
from MSNBC

"It used to be when you saw someone who's a non-Indian coming on the
reservation, there's only one reason -- he's either an FBI agent or a Mormon,"
said Mike Fairbanks, a 40-year law enforcement veteran and a member of the Red
Lake Chippewa."

. . . oops . . .


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