When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion. Richard Dawkins
INTRODUCTION: AMERICAN DELUSIONS
In the non-stop media coverage of the Aurora theater gun massacre, two commentaries made a special impression on me: one by John Cassidy, the other by Michael Moore.
Cassidy listed ten illusions most Americans embrace, suggesting that Americans are insane – at least about certain topics or convictions. The ten delusions:
1. Gun laws and gun deaths are unconnected.
2. Private enterprise is good; public enterprise is bad.
3. God created America and gave it a special purpose.
4. Our health-care system is the best there is.
5. The Founding Fathers were saintly figures who established liberty and democracy for everyone.
6. America is the greatest country in the world.
7. Tax rates are too high.
8. America is a peace-loving nation: the reason it gets involved in so many wars is that foreigners keep attacking us.
9. Cheap energy, gasoline especially, is our birthright.
10. Everybody else wishes they were American.
(Source: John Cassidy, Rational Irrationality: Is America Crazy? Ten Reasons It Might Be, The New Yorker, July 24, 2012.)
I agree with Cassidy – I think most Americans believe, embrace and defend every one of these illusions. However, I don’t think Cassidy’s list identifies the top-of-the-line, absolutely most egregious examples of American looniness.
THE TWO GREATEST NATIONAL DELUSIONS
My vote for this distinction goes to twin beliefs widely held that are certifiably delusional and dangerous. One concerns an omnipotent all-knowing all involved and all-American-oriented god in general and the Christian religion in particular; the other is devotion to the Second Amendment of our Constitution.
Cassidy dances lightly around these two berserk national attachments. Yet, the pernicious nature of both warrants attention. Let me offer a few recommendations about our maniacal devotion to a professed semi-divine right to posses, carry and use all manner of weapons for hunting and defense up to and just shy of thermonuclear devices. The NRA, the Republican Party and gun-enthusiast Americans never hesitate to remind gun critics that gun rights, militias and such are protected by the 2nd Amendment.
God and Christianity, the other lunacy mentioned, must wait for explication until another day. (Besides, what chance does reason have against unquestioned, uncritical faith? This is a delusion inculcated by our culture into the norm of society. Only brainwash creep over time can account for such widespread attachment to the literal truth of talking snakes, virgin births, resurrections, a trinity, transubstantiation, an overcrowded and unsanitary ark and an afterlife lottery of heaven or hell and so many other equally delusional notions.)
THE GUN PROBLEM
We’re number one, at least among wealthy nations, in experiencing gun deaths. A Washington Post columnist noted that 80 percent of all firearms deaths in 23 industrialized countries occurred in the United States. For women, the figure rose to 86 percent; for children age 14 and under, to 87 percent and asked, Can anyone seriously claim that our comparatively lax gun laws had nothing to do with these blood-drenched data?” (Source: E.J. Dionne Jr., Rationalizing gutlessness on guns, Washington Post, July 25, 2012.)
After each slaughter, there are always calls from sensible quarters for a ban on automatic weapons (once in effect, but allowed to expire), oversize magazines and other tools of mass as well as personal destruction. But the NRA is politically powerful and the politicians, even good ones, back off, despite considerable support for curbs (a 2011 New York Times/CBS News poll found 63 percent of Americans favor controls). As a result, as Michael Moore pointed out, we experience the equivalent of two Auroras daily (i.e., 24 average gun death a day) and if you add suicides by gun), the annual total amounts to 25,000. Might there be some connection here between gun deaths and the fact that we have 300 million guns in our homes? I dunno. It’s just a thought. (Source: Michael Moore, It’s the Guns – But Not Really the Guns, OB Rag – The Source, July 25, 2012.)
MY DELUSIONAL SOLUTION TO THE GUN DELUSION
I favor a Constitution Amendment to repeal the Second Amendment. By the year 2016 or sooner, there should be no private possession of guns, save for police, the military and extremely special cases of legitimate need, as set out in the new law. If someone must hunt, he/she can follow procedures for checking out an approved weapon under highly controlled conditions for a brief period of time – from a federally operated Regional Gun Lending Library (RGLL). RGLLs will be created and maintained throughout the nation using the weaponry obtained from citizens during a collection period to be established by the gun control amendment that repeals the 2nd amendment. (Maybe a provision can be added allowing for a well-regulated militia in certain states concerned that a force might have to be quickly called up from amongst the farmers and merchants should the Brits decide to return and wreak some havoc. Good idea, Michael Moore.)
There. That’s my delusion. I hope you like it. However, don’t write your Congressperson about it just yet. Let’s wait for four years or so for a hundred thousand or so additional gun deaths before going public with the gun control amendment. Timing is everything – at present, neither of the candidates for president nor any other federal, state or local public office would support repeal of the 2nd Amendment.
In time, however, this idea may seem less delusional to the majority of voters than the other delusions mentioned seem to me today.