There’s something incredibly sad about the kind of paranoia and conspiratorial thinking Megadeth’s David Mustaine exhibited in Signapore, in which he blamed the shootings at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and at the Sikh gudwara in Wisconsin. As the Huffington Post reports:
“Back in my country, my president,” Mustaine begins and then pretends to gag himself with his finger, “is trying to pass a gun ban so he’s staging all of these murders. The ‘Fast and Furious’ thing down at the border. And Aurora, Colorado, all the people that were killed there. And now, the beautiful people at the Sikh temple.” Mustaine went on to say, “I don’t know where I’m going to live if America keeps going the way it’s going because it looks like it’s turning into Nazi America.”
It’s obviously hateful and conspiratorial to suggest that President Obama would murder his own citizens to advance a policy agenda, just as it’s appalling to say that members of the American government had anything to do with the September 11 attacks. But in a way, I understand the desire to believe that there’s a single source of the violence that’s mushroomed across America in recent weeks, a single motivating factor. It’s a frightening thing to contemplate the host of hatreds and instabilities that can violently disrupt our public spaces, be they movie theaters, places of worship, or now, following the shooting at the Family Research Council headquarters a neighborhood over from where I work. The prospect of trying to confront the flaws in our mental health system, our gun laws, and the destabilizing influence of racial hatred all at once is overwhelming.
Blaming President Obama is a gesture of terror, more than anything else. And he’s also a target against whom very little can be accomplished, other than cranky mid-concert ranting. It’s an attempt at double absolution: fixating on Obama is a way to shut out the real and varied causes of mass gun killings, and alleging a conspiracy means that the only thing to do is rant and complain, rather than taking up actual action or picking actual political positions. Mustaine’s allegations are deplorable, but they also speak to an anxiety about the world and an inability to confront those anxieties that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.