As proud as I am of Gov. Dan Malloy for how he handled the Sandy Hook Massacre, we must repudiate him for participating in our tentative relationship with reality, for failing to embrace non-violence across the spectrum of human relations.
Malloy demonstrated his leadership abilities in dealing with Sandy Hook, but he also has shown us he has no guts when he won’t confront the masters of war who seep us in tanks, bombs, drones, kill lists and a culture of war that dominates our daily lives.
Gov. Malloy has long engaged in a level of accountability that his predecessor Gov. Rell refused to deign to. For example, Malloy appears monthly on John Dankosky’s Where We Live on WNPR.
In four years of trying, Dankosky only landed Rell once, and she would not even take live audience questions. She was an intellectual lightweight unfit to govern. Malloy has proved his ability to govern in times of crisis, displayed with his handling of a massacre of 28 people.
Last week, on January 11, 2013, Gov. Malloy took his seat in WNPR’s Asylum Street studios in Hartford to talk with Dankosky about Sandy Hook and guns and our violent American culture.
Listening to Malloy’s description of the events, understanding the gravity of the situation, and coming to make the call to tell the families at the Sandy Hook firehouse that if their loved ones hadn’t showed up, they weren’t coming back gave me chills.
Malloy said you can’t train for something like a response to Sandy Hook, but his time as mayor of Stamford during 9/11 helped him, he said.
I have long considered Malloy gruff and arrogant. But I heard a man transformed and humbled by the killings at Sandy Hook. He described himself as thinking about it every hour since it happened.
Who couldn’t understand Malloy’s being consumed by the destruction and death on this magnitude, especially when he was our collective representative for the families. Much of what he did was unseen by the general public, and escaped mention in places like Where We Live.
The reporting of Naomi Zeveloff about how six-year-old Noah Pozner’s family dealt with the tragedy transfixed me. Consider her description of Malloy’s visit to the funeral home with Pozner’s mother, Veronqiue.
“Veronique took [Malloy] by the arm and brought him to the casket. Noah’s famously long eyelashes — which she spoke about in her eulogy — rested lightly on his cheeks and a cloth covered the place where the lower half of his face had been.
“‘I just needed it to be real for [the governor],’ she says. ‘This was a live, warm, energetic little boy whose life was snuffed out in a fraction of a second because our schools are so defenseless.’”
Pozner had no left hand, either, vaporized to a bloody mist by the AR-15’s cataclysmic rounds. Veronique told Zeveloff that: “I needed it to have a face for [Malloy]. If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I needed it to be real for him.”
Malloy wears that experience. But he denies the larger picture of our warmongering ways.
“We have five percent of the world’s population and 50 percent of the world’s guns,” Malloy told Dankosky. “We have created a violent society.”
Malloy understands American blood lust.
“That’s who we are,” he said. “It’s through the implements of violence, our culture, our arts, including movies.”
Beating up on video games is easy. “The ones that sell the best in America by far are the ones that portend violence,” Malloy said. “In fact on the day this incident occurred, there was a program you could play shooting up a school. I mean, what’s wrong with us?”
Malloy’s answer is that “We should not be glorifying in our culture, in our arts, in our family rooms, violence.” My answer hearkens to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement that my government is the largest purveyor of violence on the planet.
Yet throughout the hour-long conversation, Malloy did not once critique any piece of American foreign or domestic policy reliant on violent enforcement.
For me, I cannot stop hearing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech on April 4, 1967, “A Time to Break Silence.” At Riverside Church in Harlem, King listed three reasons he was compelled to speak out against the war in Vietnam. It is King’s third reason that concerns us today:
“My third reason grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years – especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems.
“I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action. But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.
“Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.”
American foreign policy today is no different than it was 45 years ago. We burn, rape and pillage to “secure our interests”, whether in Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq or Central America.
Malloy makes secret trips to Afghanistan to celebrate our conquistadors. Malloy has refused to address the financial inequality that creates poverty, which Gandhi called the worst form of violence.
King’s birthday was this past Tuesday, January 15. Malloy will no doubt honor King at some ceremony on the recognized holiday for America’s Gandhi. But Malloy missed King’s real message, and thus concedes his part of his world to non-reality.
We should not be surprised by Malloy’s reticence to confront the war machine. During the 2010 election, Malloy refused to call out opponent Tom Foley’s war crimes as a member of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003.
The cognitive dissonance from Malloy reduces his credibility, though. He cannot criticize violent video games without referring to American soldier games like “Call of Duty”. Or explain that the U.S. military uses first-person shooter games to train soldiers.
American drone pilots in upstate New York or Las Vegas shoot real people in Asia through screens that look like video games. Malloy’s refusal to discuss this reduces him to a political leader.
From Where We Live’s perch, Malloy showed us a funhouse mirror, maintaining America’s tentative relationship with reality. We need leaders who show us our true reflection, warts and all. Dankosky failed us too, in not calling Malloy out.
Malloy is not anti-gun. He wants soldiers to have them, so long as they shoot Iraqi or Afghani children. His purchase of our country’s cognitive dissonance stretches through the decades. To enjoy the spoils of empire, Americans, as a matter of collective sanity, must disregard the consequences of colonial conquest.
Part of this unreality is a blissful ignorance about the rest of the world. Most Americans cannot find China on a map, forget the slaves who manufacture our smart phones there.
The same can be said for Iraq. After a decade of spilt blood human blood, paid for in oil and corporate loot, many Americans still would be unable to locate the cradle of western civilization on a globe, forget acknowledge the destruction to the gene pool our depleted uranium hath wrought there.
Yet there Malloy sat, silent about the consequences of violent American foreign policy. So as much as I congratulate him for his handling of the Sandy Hook massacre, I condemn him for his failure to embrace non-violence as a creed.