The events in Las Vegas have shocked the nation. The lone gunman that fired from the thirty-second floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip violated yet one more public place that was once considered safe. From on high, he let loose a barrage of bullets that fell like a veritable “rain” of terror upon a helpless crowd attending the concert below.
Fifty-nine Americans were killed and over 500 were wounded by the cowardly act. As the nation recovers from the tragic news, our prayers are with the victims. We are left to ponder the dark motives of the gunman that brought terror upon the nation. We are also left to reflect upon our uncertain future.
The mass killing struck America much like 9/11. It represents an escalation of a trail of violence. While the murder of 59 individuals is unthinkable, it is sadly no longer surprising as these horrendous acts are becoming increasingly common. Unlike 9/11, however, there is a prevailing climate of disunity that not even tragedy can overcome.
Such events reflect a great internal conflict that is tearing the nation apart and making it ever more volatile. Society is increasingly unanchored from the principles and institutions that keep it in order. This creates the climate for the unthinkable to happen. The situation is volatile for three reasons.
A Politicized Nation
The first reason is that we now live in a nation where everything has become politicized. Hardly had the dust settled upon the scene of the bloody massacre in Las Vegas when politicized commentary started to appear on social media. The nation was shocked by remarks by those that expressed no sympathy for the victims because of their supposed conservative views. There was the immediate, ludicrous attempt to frame the shootings as the product of the current administration.
A politicized America is only possible when extreme activists create the narrative that turns everything into an instrument of class struggle. It presupposes the creation of new underclasses to carry on the worn out Marxist dialectic into the fields of race, sexuality, identity … or even millionaire football players.
Such discourse disconnects from the principles of order by creating resentment towards rules, morality and authority that are seen as tools that suppress freedom.
Irrational Debate on Issues
This resentment and rancor have now spread widely in America today. As the remarks after Las Vegas indicate, we have reached the point in which rational debate is no longer the principal form of discourse. It has taken on a personal and nasty tone expressed by slogans and politically correct mantras. There seems to be nothing that cannot be turned to protest, rancor and resentment.
The target of this politicization is any vestige of order that vaguely represents any manner of restraint. In such a climate, the simplest action or gesture can be turned into a political statement.
Once everything is unanchored from principle, there is nothing too small that cannot be politicized. Nor is there any institution too big to be targeted. Where we eat and shop or what we read are now acts that define our position in the culture struggle. These stands on issues quickly degenerate into full-scale wars. Thus, we have bathroom wars, statue wars and football anthem wars that challenge the present order and divide the nation, filling it with vitriol and hate.
Once everything is politicized, it is only a short step to the second stage of weaponizing everything. This has many manifestations starting with avenues of communication. Social media, for example, are now weaponized as instruments for attacking others. Even the most straightforward words and slogans can fall into a category of verbal weaponry that offends a snowflake generation and gives rise to conflict and violent protest.
Of course, guns, knives and other actual weapons are also used as physical instruments of destruction as in the case of Las Vegas, San Bernardino or Fort Hood. However, the impact of these arms is further weaponized by their terror and the media images that fill the screens of countless millions.
The brutal reality is that not just firearms, but any physical object can now be weaponized to terrorize a population. Indeed, in our post 9/11 world, all objects are suspect, whether they be box cutters, anthrax-laced envelopes, explosive shoes or vehicles ramming into crowded sidewalks.
There is no security in a society in which everything can be weaponized. No police force can foresee every contingency. No nation can function where there is no trust, and everyone must constantly be screened.
Extending the Theater of War Everywhere
Finally, when everything can be politicized and weaponized, the theater of war is extended everywhere. There is no place exempt from this war. We find it everywhere, in the home, school, church and business. Anywhere people gather in numbers can now be the next target for those who wish to empower their passions with terror.
Even those (officially gun-free) places where we go to escape life’s pressures – theaters, malls and stadiums—are now war zones in one way or another.
They can be unbloody war zones when they become the platform for political acts of defiance, as seen in the NFL anthem controversy or in the anti-free speech riots on liberal universities. They can also be bloody war zones as seen in Las Vegas, Dallas and so many other scenes of violence.
Our smartphones and tablets extend these war zones by instantly transporting us to every terror site. There is no safe place to hide anymore in our world of instability.
This politicized, weaponized, war-zoned America is not the America that we knew. It is an America that is coming apart. It gives rise to explosive situations and cowardly individuals who impose their fantasies and false ideologies upon the nation. Instead of trust, there is resentment; instead of virtue, there is unrestraint. When fear and anxiety reign, we risk the loss of our freedoms.
The only way to fight America’s descent into ruin is a return to the platform of moral principles that towers above the irrational and violent activism that now prevails. We must recognize that the target of this internal rancor is order and especially Christian order. That order must be defended, lest we fall into chaos. We must be convinced that where there is no virtue, trust or charity, there can be no security. Where God and His law is not honored, people will set themselves up as gods. Everywhere becomes a potential Las Vegas.