A few words on violence

I’d hoped to write something profound on the 5th anniversary of 9-11-01 but nothing came out. Thus, I’m passing you on to Axis of Evil Knievel for commentary on that day. In the comments, he concedes that WWI may have been stupider than this third Gulf War.

At this time of year, I also need to give props to David Silver and The September Project, who are working to take September 11th back from the republicans, one library at a time.

Today, news breaks of another school shooting, this time at Dawson College. Carrie calls to ask that I tape the news for her research. I do. Later, I get a call at home from a student of mine now living in Ottawa, to make sure that I’m alright. The call is an incredibly decent act on his part–to be concerned for others whom he knows in the area. “Of course I’m alright,” I think. “I’m sitting here in my apartment on the East End.” The thought betrays me. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I or anyone I know might be affected by the shooting. I don’t know people who get shot. News happens to other people, right? It’s sheer folly, though. Dawson College is connected to the very Metro station I may visit tonight on my way to catch a movie. I could have been right there. Many other people were.

Meanwhile, wars continue around the world. It’s a tremendous privilege to be sitting here, typing away, sheltered from all of that violence and mayhem. But as the Dawson College shootings illustrate, we live life in a constant state of vulnerability. Perhaps the violent and disproportionate nature of the U.S.’s response to 9-11 (insofar as a premeditated attack on Iraq is a “response” to anything) has to do with the belief so many Americans hold that they are exempt from threats of violence, or that their comfort doesn’t somehow exist in tense relationship with all sorts of violence around the world. Clearly, even as I critique that mindset, I live comfortably inside it.

I don’t know whether to call that ideology or privilege. Or maybe it’s just enough of both.

For more on the Montreal Dawson College shootings, visit Metroblog.

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