The Theater Shooter Is Caught, but the Real Joker Keeps Laughing

Why is it that in the previous decades, when life was tougher, weapons were widespread, and the ratio of mental disorders was presumably the same, mass shootings were unheard of?  Some would say that those people had not yet been corrupted by moral relativism, desensitized by Hollywood's fantasy violence and glorification of crime, or addicted to gory point-and-shoot videogames.  All valid points -- yet one major reason hardly gets any notice.

The set of rules for war are different from the set of rules for peace.  Wars have always been brutal and soul-sapping; while killing was the norm, there have also been rules to spare innocent civilians.  The inhuman murder of a random group of defenseless innocents for no other reason than murder itself was never a part of war -- let alone of peace.  What has changed in our 2,000-year-old Western civilization that makes it possible?

Admittedly, the major driving force of cultural change is the education system.  Until recently, no generation of young Americans has been exposed to such a massive, centrally planned indoctrination based on the dehumanizing, soul-sapping "progressive" ideology.  Accordingly, never before have students dropped out of school in such large numbers, with so confusing and conflicting views of the world and their place and purpose in it, with blurred perceptions of right and wrong, and infected with what I like to call "secondhand envy" and "phantom grievances" (which is similar to the Marxist concept of false consciousness, only not as far-fetched).

The radical "progressive" ideology (a broad term embracing many offshoots of Marxism) dehumanizes people more effectively than any violent point-and-shoot video game ever could.  It pits various groups of people against one another by cultivating envy and grievances that are mostly imaginary and secondhand.  In the politically correct book of "progress," man is judged no longer by the content of his character, but rather by the color of his skin, class, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other secondary attribute.  The trick is that when a secondary attribute becomes the primary one, man loses his unique individuality and becomes a mere social function, a drone in a collective, a peg in the machine, a sacrificial animal on the altar of "progress."

"Progressivism" remains more or less benign as long it feeds off a wealthy nation.  But as soon as the wealth is squandered and there are no surpluses left to redistribute, human sacrifice begins.  The final argument behind every well-meaning "progressive" scheme is always a gun pointed at those unwilling to be enslaved or give up their property for redistribution.  Planned mass murders and incarcerations of "enemies of the people" committed by every communist regime on the planet provide enough evidence of that.  "Progressive" ideology denies moral absolutes, yet it assumes the moral authority to give a license to kill in the name of a delirious utopia.

In Russia, shortly after the October revolution, a Leninist newspaper published this, if you will, call for "progress":

We will make our hearts cruel, hard, and immovable... so that they will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood.  We will let loose the floodgates of that sea.  Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of hundreds.  Let them be thousands; let them drown themselves in their own blood... let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois -- more blood, as much as possible.

According to speculative reports, the Aurora shooter James Holmes's clothing and methods bore some resemblance to the violent "Occupy Wall Street Bloc," and he may have been angered that the new Batman movie was an attack on his movement's noble cause.  But whether his political leanings are confirmed or not, there's little doubt that this mentally disturbed student had been exposed to the "social justice" and "class strife" rhetoric in school.  These teachings are a near-mandatory supplement served to most American kids, explicitly or implicitly, courtesy of public education.  Once in college, the intake of the "progressive" formula tends only to increase, involving heavy doses of every grievance man, woman, or beast has ever had from the beginning of time, factual or imaginary.  All this is served up under the generic label of "social sciences."

So when a young college graduate's budding delusions begin to torment him with phantoms of horrific injustice and fictional causes, prompting him to shoot indiscriminately at the dehumanized mass of moviegoers while donning a comic book costume, is it really the fault of the National Rifle Association?

The ongoing gradual insertion of "progressive" memes into the comic book culture is a matter for another essay and, perhaps, another author.  As far as the movies go, Hollywood has been demonizing "rich white America" as the formulaic villain in just about every "who-done-it" flick ever since the censure of Joe McCarthy.  A sudden break from that direction in The Dark Knight Rises might well be perceived as treason, causing anger among many on the left.  And if one is an anxious sociopath with a deadly weapon, who doesn't know right from wrong, truth from fiction, or a hero from a villain, who has learned all he knows from school, movies, and comic books, such a delirious loser may indeed want to stage a spectacular massacre in a movie theater, killing potential "enemy converts" and sending a warning to all the others.

In another time and place, James Holmes might be hailed as an idealistic revolutionary hero fighting for social causes.  Che Guevara, anybody?  How many revolutionary "heroes" of the past, now lionized on today's campuses, had been tormented by the same mental disorder that turned James Holmes into a mass murderer?

Che Guevara believed that "a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate."  Che had killed many more than James Holmes did -- yet his life is glorified by Hollywood, his writings are published worldwide, and his pictures are plastered over the t-shirts of a new generation of American college kids, whom Che would not have hesitated to shoot given the chance. 

Of these two delusional murderers, why does Che get a pass and Holmes doesn't?  Because killing 12 strangers at a movie is a crime, while killing thousands of faceless class enemies is a statistic?  Mental illness does terrible things to the mind regardless of ideology, turning the individual into a loose cannon.  Throw a radical cause into the mix, and it quickly removes the safety lock and points the weapon in a certain direction.

Under Che's brief management, Cuban economy hit an all-time low, quickly declining from one of the wealthiest Latin American countries to one of the poorest.  To accomplish that, Che murdered thousands of the bourgeois class standing in the way.  If this isn't criminally insane, what is?  Yet "progressive" educators in the U.S. continue to decorate classrooms with Che Guevara portraits and arrange "educational" school trips to Cuba.  Sounds more like the mind-trip of a madman in an asylum run by the inmates.

Bill Ayers, who launched Barack Obama's political career in Chicago, in his younger days was a leader of a communist terrorist group Weather Underground, whose ideology he summed up as follows: "Kill all the rich people.  Break up their cars and apartments.  Bring the revolution home, kill your parents."  According to DiscoverTheNetworks, their long-term goal was to cause the collapse of the United States, replacing it with a communist society over which they themselves would rule.  The resistance would be sent to re-education camps and killed.  Ayers and his comrades estimated that it would be necessary to eliminate some 25 million Americans in this fashion, so as to advance the revolution.

Ayers participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and of the Pentagon in 1972.  In his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days, Ayers writes of the day he bombed the Pentagon: "Everything was absolutely ideal. ... The sky was blue.  The birds were singing.  And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them."  He remembers his fascination with the fact that "a good bomb" could render even "big buildings and wide streets ... fragile and destructible," leaving behind a "majestic scene" of utter destruction.  A comic book villain, anyone?

In his later days, Ayers realized that bombings were nothing compared to the damage he could inflict on the country through education of young, malleable minds.  He dedicated his life to what he calls teaching for social justice as a professor of education.  Supported by the left-dominated academic establishment, Ayers became a prominent member of and later vice president for curriculum studies at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), exerting great influence over what is taught in America's teacher-training colleges and, through indoctrination of a generation of teachers, its public schools.

While the gradual poisoning of the minds of American students is not as spectacular and doesn't lend itself to the silver screen as well as Joker-style terrorism, the utter destruction it leaves in its wake is beyond the dreams of a comic-book supervillain.  With all the guessing and fingerpointing with regard to the Aurora shooting, no one is mentioning that James Holmes's disturbed mind may have been poisoned with the perverted concepts of "social justice" that have erased the value of individual human life through class envy, hatred, and falsely interpreted ideas of social duty.  Since the age of five, he has been receiving  social justice programming at the hands of California public school teachers and University of California professors.

Besides acting as a catalyst on a depressed mind, "progressive" education is also a cause of depression in itself.  Imagine growing up while believing that yours is the worst country on the planet, guilty of death and suffering of millions of poor people worldwide, who are being wantonly killed, robbed, enslaved, raped, and tortured so that your mom can shop at the mall and your dad can fill up the tank.  The species are dying, the rainforest is dwindling, the ozone hole is growing, and the globe is warming.  If it is frightful enough to turn a sensitive adult into a guilt-ridden neurotic, think about a ten-year-old, who, in addition, has to live with the fear that if he doesn't die of skin cancer by the age of thirty, global warming and rising sea levels will finish everyone off anyway.

Could those educators who impose such insanity on their students please explain if there is anything, in their view, left in this world for our children to live for?  Other than, of course, to continue the struggle for "progress"?  But that is manifestly not a skill or a trait of character that will help them to become happy, self-sustaining, professional individuals.  All it can do is replenish the cancerous growth that is consuming this society, replacing its productive and vibrant cells with mutated dysfunctional neoplasm.

At this point, we can only wonder if the injection of "progressive" hatred had aggravated Holmes's madness, but it surely had given him a frame of reference and the direction to channel his rage.  Without it, perhaps, a certain amount of medication could help him to move on and focus on writing some shockingly dark, violent screenplays that demonize Western civilization, Christianity, capitalism, and family -- always a winner in the movie academy circles.  Meanwhile, calls to ban firearms continue from the same people in the media, government, and cultural establishment who have themselves, to a varying degree, contributed to the dehumanization of our culture by destroying the traditional notions of right and wrong and, instead, cultivating the "progressive" notions of class strife, division, and envy.

It appears that James Holmes, as well as those before him and those who are yet to follow, are only unwitting tools in the hands of the real villainous Joker.  Can you hear Bill Ayers's behind-the-scenes maniacal laughter yet?

Oleg Atbashian, a writer and graphic artist from the former USSR, currently lives in Florida.  He is the creator of, a satirical website where he writes under the name of Red Square.  He is also the author of Shakedown Socialism.

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