Reading through a group of articles about gun violence, I stumbled upon this old Huffington Post article by Thomas Lowenstein – the son of Rep. Allard Lowenstein, an idealist liberal notable for his 1960s campaigns for civil rights and against the continuation of the war in Vietnam – who now is a Policy Director for the Innocence Project in New Orleans…a civil libertarian cause his father would have definitely embraced as well.
I’ll leave whether his article speaks to what happened in Colorado yesterday night to you – what we know so far suggests that the attack there didn’t have anything to do with politics, ethnic or religious hatreds (though possibly there are things we don’t know yet), but may have had something to do with violent representations in our culture (the assailant claimed to the police that he was “The Joker” – and the last movie in this present Batman series portrayed the Joker as an especially sadistic and sociopathic character, leaving nothing to the imagination…and sadism and sociopathy was on full display in Aurora as well last night). I think there are connections, but I’ll let you decide about that.
In any case, though, Lowenstein’s story that deserves to be read and compared to what we are going through now – as well as what we went through after the Tucson shooting last year. (This article was written by Lowenstein at the time of the Tucson shooting, by the way…I would have told you about it sooner, but I only now discovered it myself.)
I’ve always been particularly disturbed by the murder of Allard Lowenstein because the person who killed him spouted the kind of nonsense the extreme left continues to spout today. It’s easy for many to write off the cynically violent discourse of “revolutionaries” as being largely rhetorical, but I’ve always had trouble doing that because I think that this discourse led to the cynically violent act of Allard Lowenstein’s killer.
Every time I hear some tough-guy campus Marxist talk about “smashing bourgeois liberalism”, I think about Lowenstein, whom the extreme left derided as just such a bourgeois liberal, dead. That’s what it looks like, folks, when you “smash” someone.
Granted, Lowenstein’s “bourgeois liberalism” largely consisted of believing that he could get American institutions to respond to what was wrong with the country, by deepening democracy instead of giving up on it. But hey, whatever. Revolution is apparently not a garden party. Bang bang. Thus be it ever to “reformists”.
The person who killed Lowenstein was deemed mentally ill, but there are plenty of people who associated with the guy who were not mentally ill and who still talk about the deaths of other liberals (JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King) as “chickens coming home to roost” moments. As surely as Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” were portents of a future atrocity, so is that attitude. It killed Lowenstein, and unfortunately, I think it will probably kill again…if some of the casually-expressed attitudes of the average Occupy organiser are any indication.
By the way, Allard Lowenstein’s killer is currently free. Because he was declared mentally ill, the doctors could choose to release him when they believed him to be cured. Fortunately, he’s kept a low profile after his release, but if he ever does relapse, remember that he lives in a country awash in easily-accessed guns…with just as many crackpot political, ethnic and religious dogmas as ever, and with an entertainment industry that continues to glorify gratuitous violence.
If that doesn’t scare you, I have to wonder about your capacity for denial.