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America Breaks Down: The Anatomy of a National Nervous Breakdown

This country has been having a nationwide nervous breakdown since 9/11. A nation of people suddenly broke, the market economy goes to shit, and they’re threatened on every side by an unknown, sinister enemy. But I don't think fear is a very effective way of dealing with things—of responding to reality. Fear is just another word for ignorance.”—Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo journalist

Another shooting, another day in America.

Or so it seems.

With alarming regularity, the nation is being subjected to a spate of violence that terrorizes the public, destabilizes the country’s fragile ecosystem, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry.

Take this latest mass shooting that took place at a small church in a small Texas town.

The lone gunman—a former member of the Air Force—was dressed all in black, wearing body armor, a tactical vest and a mask, and firing an assault rifle. (Note the similarity in uniform and tactics to the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams and military.)

Devin Patrick Kelley, the 26-year-old gunman, had served a year in military prison for assaulting his wife and child in 2012. Domestic disputes aside, Kelley—like many of the other shooters in recent years—was described as a “regular guy” by those who knew him.

This “regular” guy’s shooting rampage left at least 26 people.

President Trump and the Governor of Texas have chalked the shooting up to mental illness.

That may well be the case here.

Still, there’s something to be said for the fact that this shooting bore many of the same marks of other recent attacks: the gunman appeared out of the blue without triggering any alarms, he was dressed like a soldier or militarized police officer, he was armed with military-style weapons and clearly trained in the art of killing, and the attacker died before any insight could be gained into his motives.

As usual, we’re left with more questions than answers and a whole lot more fear and anxiety.

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