Saturday, June 20, 2015

Just the Facts, Ma'am

"Three dead, Several injured during a rampage in Graz," reads the headline in the Austrian newspaper Die Krone. The driver of an SUV drove wildly through a crowd on a busy street in Graz, the hometown of  Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger;
skidding wildly back and forth on street and sidewalks.  When the driver finally stopped, he came at the police and bystanders with a knife.  "The exact reason for the rampage is unknown" says the paper.

Is there ever an exact reason?  Is reason a word with any application here at all?  No place, no population is free of such incidents and they only differ in the kinds of things one uses when one runs amok.  It might be a machete, a gun, an explosive vest, a vehicle, a bomb, a cooking implement or a canister of poison gas.  We've seen all of the above and more. How we define, how we describe, how we react says more about our society and says more about us than about the mass killers we produce.

Missing from the Newspaper account is the call for grieving and mourning and outrage, demands for more laws of an unspecified nature and any demand that it be called "terrorism."  No attempts to tie it to history and tradition and ethnicity or to make of it anything not immediately apparent. Neither the vehicle nor the knife were described as "military style"

How unlike America. Indeed the friend who posted this on Facebook asked Americans not to comment, to leave it to the Austrians and just let it be what it was.  I know what he means.

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