It's a sad tribute to the sheer, pounding, insane vuvuzela of Republican fringe lunacy that it takes a truly novel and bizarre statement to break through and really force you to do a double-take. I don't know about you, but my sensibilities have been so calloused by the past decade or so of birtherism and torture apologists and patriot baiting that I'm never genuinely surprised by your standard issue Bachmannism, or by a Republican Congressman musing about the President's instinctive favoring of his Black Power brethren. I mean, I still look at this stuff and shake my head and say, "wow, that's whacked," but my jaw doesn't drop as I gawp at the madness of it all. I'm desensitized, I guess.
But today, I felt that old frisson of shock and awe at a wingnut pronouncement, so absent in recent years, when my eyes landed on this beaut:
The Republican nominee for a New Mexico congressional seat suggested during a radio interview that the United States could place land mines along the Mexican border to secure the international boundary.
. . . What?
The wild-eyed double-take, the jaw-dropping, the involuntarily gawping. It was back in force, after all this time.
Asked Monday to clarify, Tom Mullins emphasized that he does not advocate doing so. . . .
He explained Monday it was a suggestion he'd heard while campaigning.
Oh. OK, then.
After I slapped my face and brought myself back to Earth, I tried to figure out what it was about Mullins' statement that made it so remarkable, so different than the run of the mill craziness that we see five times every day from today's Republican Party. And finally I think I figured it out -- most Republican outrages stem from hatred of others: the President, poor people, immigrants, brown people, gays, hippies, feminists, &c. It's rooted in the notion that We Are Good and They Are Bad.
But "We Are Good and They Are Bad" is a philosophy that, however simple and dangerous, is premised on the idea that there's some value in justice and in basic humanity. It just denies justice to many, and denies the humanity of some. Mullins' call for mining the border seems to me to lack even that basic connection to standard ethics. A desire to plant land mines across thousands of miles of one's own country's territory is simply nihilistic. Anti-personnel land mines are arbitrary, frighteningly random dealers of death condemned by the vast majority of nations. (A total of 156 countries have signed the Ottawa Treaty completely banning their use, although the US is, sadly, not one of them.) Land mines kill children as surely as criminals, Americans as surely as Mexicans; they lay in place for decades, long after their deployment is forgotten, but never losing their ability to unleash terrible pain and suffering on any poor soul unfortunate enough to stray into their unmarked path. Asking for land mines to be placed in the ground of your own state? I dunno. It strikes me as a conscious decision to turn one's back on civilization, on the small measure of order that humans have painstakingly managed to impart on a chaotic and uncaring universe. It's not We Are Good and They Are Bad, so much as it is Who Gives a Shit.
So that's why this particular bit of wingnuttery stood out for me. Your mileage may vary. But personally, this is the craziest thing I've seen a Republican say in a looooong time. And that's saying something.
To cheer you up, here's Metallica on land mines.