From diaCRITICS comes this piece by editor Viet Thanh Nguyen on the mass murder of six Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and its connection to the violence done to, and by, Southeast Asians. diaCRITICS is the leading blog on Vietnamese diasporic arts and culture, published by the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network. DVAN promotes the work of Vietnamese artists everywhere, and both DVAN and diaCRITICS are always looking for writers, contributors, and helpers.
This is an article about the recent massacre of six Sikh Americans by a white supremacist US Army veteran, but I begin with this, a United States Marine Corps chant to remind new recruits in boot camp that their weapon was not just a GUN, but more importantly a RIFLE. Military types and weapons specialists care about these distinctions. Stanley Kubrick satirized the unconscious psychosexual energies behind wielding a gun in Full Metal Jacket, when Marine recruits parade with their weapons doing this chant of “This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting, this is for fun.” They seize their crotches at “gun” and “fun.” When I showed it to my students, some were puzzled at how to interpret this moment that seems so clear to me. The rifle is a phallus, an extension of the rock-hard cock, and in Kubrick’s film, the narrative is completed in the battle for Hue, when a female sniper castrates the Marine squad by killing a few. She herself is surrounded and killed by the surviving Marines in a moment that the critic Susan Jeffords, in The Remasculinization of America: Gender and the Vietnam War, calls a symbolic gang rape. The fact that the killing and the rape are not just about gender and sexuality but race and nation is fairly obvious.
Why am I thinking of this? Because just when I thought I had gotten some anger out of myself, there are now more things to get me angry. The Batman massacre in Aurora, Colorado, which happened the night before I saw The Dark Knight Rises (my tickets bought in advance). Then the massacre of Sikh people in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, yesterday of the day I am writing this, when an Army veteran and white supremacist invaded a temple and killed six before being killed himself. This is not a post about gun control, as I am sure my position on gun control is evident, and nothing I say will change any minds. This is instead about pointing to the direct line from the core of American culture and history to the Viet Nam War to the Oak Creek massacre and a couple of other massacres many of us have already forgotten about…
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