Weekly Review — October 6, 2017, 3:05 pm

Weekly Review

Homicide, justified

A 64-year-old man brought ten suitcases containing an arsenal of legally-purchased rifles to a hotel suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas, waited three days for the closing night of a country music festival being held about 500 yards away, and then opened fire on the crowd of 22,000 concertgoers below, killing 58 and injuring 489.[1][2][3][4][5][6] It was reported that the “police profile” of a mass shooter in the United States, of whom at least 56 percent have been white and 97 percent have been male, was not “fit” by the Las Vegas gunman, a white, male, reclusive, itinerant, high-stakes gambler who had purchased 33 guns in the previous year. “He was a normal, average ‘Joe Blow’ kind of guy,” said a gun-store owner who sold him a shotgun.[7][8][9][10] Following the shooting, the share price of the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson climbed 3 percent; and sales of the bump-stock gun-modification devices the shooter used to convert his semi-automatic weapons into long-range machine guns spiked across the United States, a country whose citizens have purchased 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, and whose white citizens’ individual likelihood of owning a gun is positively correlated to his or her anti-black racism.[11][12][13][14] The National Rifle Association, which in 1967 supported the repeal of California’s open-carry law when members of the Black Panther Party began carrying legally purchased firearms, said gun control “will do nothing” to stop gun violence, and then urged Congress to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines; and at least 64 members of Congress who’ve accepted campaign contributions from the NRA announced that they would pray for the victims in Las Vegas, including a representative who said gun control was “not the answer” and who once spoke at an international white-supremacist conference, authored a bill banning gay marriage in Louisiana, and was, after being shot by a 66-year-old white man, defended by a black female police officer who is married to a woman, a demographic in the United States that is a hundred times more likely to be shot and killed by a man than to use a gun for self-defense.[15][16][17][18][19][20] The White House press secretary said “it would be premature” to talk about gun control; US president Donald Trump said that he was “not going to talk about” gun control; and a 60-year-old man in New York shot and killed his 27-year-old disabled daughter with a shotgun in his back yard and then shot and killed himself, a 46-year-old woman was shot and killed in her mobile home in Florida, a 40-year-old man was shot and killed in a house in Maryland, a 52-year-old man in Louisiana was shot and killed in his back yard, four people attending a vigil for a 30-year-old woman who was shot and killed in Florida were then shot by an unknown assailant, a twentysomething man in Tennessee was shot and killed outside the group home for disabled adults where he worked, a 25-year-old man in Georgia was shot and killed during a bar fight, a 27-year-old man in Michigan was shot and killed while walking his dogs, a 22-year-old man was shot and killed in his kitchen in Michigan while showing a visitor his gun, a two-year-old in Illinois was shot by an unknown assailant while the car the child was riding in was stopped at a red light, a construction worker in New York was shot and killed on the 37th floor of an unfinished building by a co-worker who then shot and killed himself on the fifth floor, an 18-year-old boy in New York was shot and killed three blocks from his home, a 14-year-old boy in Washington was shot and killed by a 13-year-old boy with a handgun he had borrowed from a 12-year-old, and, in Utah, a video was released of a police officer fatally shooting a black man who was running away after being pulled over for erratically riding his bicycle without a rear reflector. “Deadly force,” said the district attorney on the case, “was justified.”[21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

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“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of “a new era in human history,” one that would bring “peace and freedom for all.” Communism was crumbling, just as fascism had before it. Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley. “I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

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[caption id="attachment_271890" align="aligncenter" width="690"]True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images.[/caption]

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The prepositions you’re most likely to encounter after the title of a poem are “for” or “to” and sometimes “after”—“for my daughter”; “to Bobby”; “after Pound”; etc. They signify dedication, address, homage, imitation. In the recent poems of Fred Moten, we encounter “with,” a preposition that denotes accompaniment. The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting that the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition. (Given Moten’s acclaimed critical work on jazz, the “with” is immediately evocative of musical performance, e.g., “Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins.”) Not all “withs” are the same—there is a different intimacy in the poem “fifty little springs,” which is “with aviva,” Moten’s wife’s Hebrew name (which means springtime), than there is in “resistances,” which is “with” a critic and an artist, interlocutors of Moten’s. (The poem “13. southern pear trees” has no preposition after the title, but is excerpted from another responding to the work of Zoe Leonard, and so is still a work of fellowship.) The scale of that “with” can be small (“with aviva, as if we were all alone”) or vast (“with everybody we don’t know”), but either way the poem becomes an instance of alongsidedness instead of belatedness; the poems request, with that subtle prepositional shift, that we think of ourselves as participants in the production of meaning and not mere recipients of someone else’s eloquence.

“Untitled,” 1989, by Zoe Leonard © Zoe Leonard (detail)

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