Tomgram: Erika Eichelberger, Your Home Is Your Abbattoir!
At a certain point in my life, I studied shotokan karate with a remarkable teacher, and then, unable to find her equivalent in the San Francisco Bay Area, took up wing chun for a while with a very amusing guy. At that point, I realized that the main threat to my health and well being, was my own stress level and, well, you can see where this is going: yoga. There should be a national equivalent of that little trajectory from East Asian techniques for dealing with others to South Asian techniques for dealing with the self , when it comes to real threat assessment: Americans die of lousy health and our lousy healthcare system, of natural disaster and, at levels unequalled through out the affluent world, of each other. Gun deaths in the US in 2011: more than 11,000, in Japan that year, seven. From foreign terorism in the US that year: O. Some fears are convenient: terrorism has devoured money and civil rights, and government surveillance at a rate that is itself terrifying. And it's made "security" into doublespeak. In terms of actual American deaths, terrorists are right down there with sharks. Zero domestic shark deaths in 2011, worldwide. Some fears are inconvenient: if you look at leading causes of death and injury for women, the terms terrorist and husband should perhaps be interchangeable. Male violence, much of it by partners and former partners, is the second highest cause of death for women between 15 and 44, worldwide. And in the US, suicide kills more of us than homicide, as Erika Eichelberger points out in her timely piece today. To acknowledge what really threatens us, is to upset two of the same force on different scales. Armed intervention is imperial machismo in the same way a raging husband or father is the military dictator of a g household. Maybe "domestic terrorist" should be twinned with "domestic violence." After all, the seldom acknowledged main form of such terrorism in this country in recent decades, anti-abortion violence, fits in comfortably, being an assault on women's rights to bodily autonomy and self determination. At the Republican National Convention in New York city back in 2004, I coined the term "safe dangers" to describe how some perils are too dangerous to name, and the way they are instead transformed into more conventional and acceptable dangers. The activists in Manhattan's streets then threatened the legitimacy and hegemony of the Republicans, and brought up unsayable things about our wars, our leaders, and the state of our union. We were a threat. To acknowledge what kind of threat we were, however, would have meant acknowledging first that we had real power, the power to change the conversation and rock the boat, as Occupy would do, threateningly, in that same city seven years later.