One of the small pleasures in life, for me, is unintentional comedy in the news. Specifically, when back-to-back stories complement each other, but in a way the source likely hadn’t realized.
For example, I remember one particular instance during my travels, sitting at the counter of some diner in small-town middle-America, drinking a coffee and reading the local newspaper.
On pages 2 and 3 were that day’s two main stories.
The first, about the mayor of the town sounding the alarm regarding the fiscal stability of the community. The short version: the town was out of money.
On the adjacent page, a large color photograph of the mayor’s smiling face and a corresponding article detailing his elaborate vacation to a recent national convention (hence the photo) – paid for by the taxpayers, of course.
Another time, a small section of a large newspaper had two stories, one on top of each other. On top (paraphrased): “Man Gets 25 Years in Prison for Marijuana Grow-Op.” Below: “Rapist Gets 3 Years in Prison.”
I noticed something similar one afternoon this week, when I ventured to open a mainstream news website and gaze at the day’s headlines.
Not following? No problem.
The geopolitical situation surrounding North Korea right now is, according to mainstream American media, dire; a powder-keg ready to go off at any moment.
Perhaps this is true. Perhaps not.
The situation has been described somewhat differently in the international media, and, it would appear, experienced quite differently within the international community.
According to reports:
South Korean leader Moon Jae-in has offered an “olive branch” to North Korea, suggesting he would even “go to Pyongyang” for “the peace of the Korean Peninsula.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has “urged Donald Trump to peacefully resolve raging tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme.”
(The nefarious) Putin “extended an olive branch to North Korea to start negotiations over Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons,” and recently stated, “We must stop intimidating North Korea and find a peaceful solution.”
Even Kim Jong-un has said of South Korea “We are willing to have talks in an open-minded manner with anyone who wants peace and unification” and, according to some sources, has even offered an olive branch to Trump.
Faced with a world apparently intent on diplomacy (not to mention a skeptical population), President Trump declared this week that the time for “patience with the North Korean regime” is “over.”
While meeting with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, who, you may remember, has expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea peacefully, Trump said:
“The North Korean dictatorship has no regard for the safety and security of its people, for its neighbors and has no respect for human life. Together, we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea. The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime require a determined response.”
Impatient. Aggressive. Antagonistic.
Meanwhile, in New York City, a man, Henry Bello, described as a “disgruntled (former) employee” entered a hospital with an AR-15 and opened fire at staff and patients, before taking his own life.
When asked about the shooter, former coworkers suggested that he was, among other things, “crazy.”
Maybe he was “crazy.”
In 2004, he pled guilty “after a 23-year-old woman told police Bello grabbed her, lifted her up and carried her off, saying: ‘You’re coming with me.’” He “was arrested again in 2009 on a charge of unlawful surveillance, after two different women reported he was trying to look up their skirts with a mirror.” When he was fired by the hospital in 2015, he, according to an ex-colleague, “promised to come back and kill us.”
As polarizing as the debate on gun control is, an area where common ground can perhaps be found is mental health. Whether restricting people with mental health problems from obtaining firearms or strengthening and expanding the mental health support structure, it seems unlikely that anybody wants a “crazy,” “disgruntled employee” to conduct a mass-shooting at their place of work.
The Republican Trump administration is not expected to restrict access to guns. Obviously.
But they compound the problem by promoting massive spending cuts on mental health initiatives and programs (not to mention massive cuts to other assistance programs designed to keep people out of a vengeful desperation). For nearly 15 years (at least), Henry Bello suggested to the world that he was suffering from mental health issues; through aggressive, sexualized, criminal behavior, alleged death threats, and so on. When he finally went fully “crazy,” why was he holding an AR-15 in his hand?
Many people are against war simply because they believe in peace. Similarly, many people are pro-gun control simply because they don’t want the United States to have the highest rate of gun homicides in the “industrialized” world.
But even amongst those less disinclined towards war, many would likely admit the harms of war and advocate for the exhaustion of diplomatic options first. Similarly, all but the most unapologetically pro-gun individual would likely agree that mentally ill people shooting into crowds with machine guns is not the ideal.
In the end, Trump’s saber rattling towards North Korea, and a New York hospital shooting complement each other wonderfully.
Both illuminate the Trump administration flamboyantly disregarding not only “left-wing” or “liberal” views, but moderate conservative views as well, not to mention public opinion, as well as international norms and desires.
I guess that is what they call “Empire.”
Trump seems to be taking to it nicely.
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