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eXiled Alert! / eXiled Radio / April 10, 2009

In New York, on Friday, April 3, a man burst into a community center and started shooting, killing 15 people before blowing his own brains out. The gunman, 41-year-old Jiverly Voong, was instantly branded as a maniac by the media: an “angry loner who loved guns, hated America and talked about assassinating the President.” But who was he, really? Ames tries to answer that question on KPFK radio.

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Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine. You can reach him at ames@exiledonline.com.

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32 Comments

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  • 1. Grant  |  April 10th, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Ames, I am a suckup to the rich and cannot deal with your take on these shootings. So I’m going to try to pretend that you’re the one drinking coolaid, because frankly, if you’re not, then what does that say about me?

  • 2. James Thomas  |  April 10th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Hey Ames – Fuck Jiverly Voong. America is loaded with Vietnamese and Korean immigrants who arrived with squat and now own the fucking building where you rent your scabby apartment. What do you know about Voong that the rest of us don’t? What makes you think he was hard working? How do you know he wasn’t just a fuck-up? Do you believe that every nut case was driven to his or her dementia by the evil forces of American capitalism? Grow up and get a life.

    America certainly has its problems. And one can certainly make the case that capitalism has reached the end of its useful life as an economic model for the country and for the world. But America still offers more freedom – economic and political – than any other place I’ve been. Some people are just psychos. Absent proof beyond your puling apologia, Voong looks like one of them to me.

  • 3. aleke  |  April 10th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    “But America still offers more freedom – economic and political – than any other place I’ve been.”

    No

    “Some people are just psychos.”

    Okay, but that’s not too relevant. You’d have to read Ames’ book. It seems to me that Ames is starting to fulfill a cultural role similar to that of Nassim Taleb. That is, he has crafted an argument so well based in facts and logic, the only argument that has arisen is almost exclusively ad hominem. Not to mention both are right.

  • 4. Frank Kottner  |  April 10th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Who the fuck cares what you think James Thomas?

  • 5. Balki Bartalamoose  |  April 10th, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    jesus christ ames, you come off like such a whiner here it’s ridiculous. Did you read his letters? The guy was a paranoid crazy person who thought the world was out to get him. “Oh, those working class whites were so mean to him.” First off, there was no proof of this whatsoever, yet you make it seem like he was being taunted mercilessly every time he left his house. Also, newsflash: being an immigrant is tough. The truth of the matter though, is that being a legal immigrant in the US is far easier than being an immigrant anywhere else in the world. This guy was crazy, and if he couldn’t learn English in more than a decade of being here, he was a dumbass. If you’re a dumbass, you don’t rise up the ranks in the career ladder. He could have done what plenty of immigrants do, which is work their asses off or learn a skill. You making apologies for this loser nut job is pathetic.

  • 6. Rick  |  April 10th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    The “going postal” notions are politically “insane,” but I refer you to H.L. Mencken:

    “I am wholly devoid of public spirit or moral purpose. This is incomprehensible to many men, and they seek to remedy the defect by crediting me with purposes of their own.”

    I tend to think the slave revolts comparison is apt and dead-on, but if you’re thinking “political” in the conventional sense, you miss it. It’s that moral instinct. People live horribly in America and the west: they really do. And it really is horrible, like the feeling of not-eating forever. The meanest, shittiest tribe at least offers some comforting social structure, even if you’re a slave.

    Are contemporary lifestyles messed up? Yes. I still can’t stand to think about the Korean video store owner I grew up with…man, that guy looked at every customer like we should be his community, his makeshift tribe, and everybody mumbled and walked out of the place. It was heartbreaking. Then his shop closed…God knows what happened to him. He had the video store worth of movies, like all Americans, nothing else.

  • 7. Anonymous  |  April 10th, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    James Thomas, some people in dire straits do wind up pulling through and getting rich, and the ones who kill themselves and perhaps others are indeed the less capable ones or the psychos. But Ames doesn’t deny that. Instead, his big idea is that these killing sprees started in the 80s, and that this implies that around Reagan’s election, the US started getting rougher, and causing the least stable people to crack up and go berserk. One obvious possibility is that it’s because Reagan decreased the amount of tax-and-spend social programs, like welfare and public health care, and we should fix the problem by increasing them, to be more like Europe.

    On the other hand, “capitalism has reached the end of its useful life”?! Holy fuck, no! I want tax funded public health care and even full employment, but I definitely want it to be legal to own property, trade freely, work for private companies, and loan and borrow money! Let’s look to the UK or France, not the old USSR.

  • 8. John  |  April 10th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Nobody seems to be getting Mark’s point. It’s about respect. In a primitive country even if you’re a dirt poor peasant you can expect your wife and family to respect you. In America if you are dirt poor your wife leaves you and you are a failure. All you have left to earn respect is terror, the terror of pointing a gun at someone’s face who used to mock you but has driven you to such a state of despair that you finally no longer give a fuck if you live or die, and now you have the gun and have all the power.

    This is what unions used to do, they made sure that the managers knew to respect the workers. But they became scams to transfer money to political interests, turning a system of mutual protection into enemies of both the workers and the business class, so that made it possible to wipe them out during the Reagan years. Those places where the unions weren’t wiped out are now bankrupt.

    You really have to live in another country to understand what respect is.

  • 9. Allen  |  April 10th, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    “Nobody seems to be getting Mark’s point. It’s about respect. In a primitive country even if you’re a dirt poor peasant you can expect your wife and family to respect you. In America if you are dirt poor your wife leaves you and you are a failure. All you have left to earn respect is terror, the terror of pointing a gun at someone’s face who used to mock you but has driven you to such a state of despair that you finally no longer give a fuck if you live or die, and now you have the gun and have all the power.”

    Extremely well said.

    Reminds me of that bit from Slaughterhouse-Five:

    “Every other nation has folk tales traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters.”

    … of course that novel was written in 1969.

  • 10. James Thomas  |  April 11th, 2009 at 5:28 am

    What in god’s name makes you folks think the world changed so radically under Reagan and everything dissolved from sweetness and light to dog-eat-dog? Did any of you read “Grapes of Wrath” or any of Sinclair Lewis’s work?

    There will always be those who fail … fail to fit in, fail to assimilate, fail to prosper … and there always have been. Failure homicidal maniac.

  • 11. James Thomas  |  April 11th, 2009 at 5:29 am

    aleke-
    I’ll match my passport stamps and visas with yours any day of the week. And I’ll stand by my statement about economic and political freedom.

  • 12. James Thomas  |  April 11th, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Frank Kottner – Thanks for your brilliant and insightful input.

  • 13. Anonymous  |  April 11th, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Well, yeah, during Lewis’s Gilded Age and Steinbeck’s Depression things were rougher than they are now. Same for the 1600s or prehistory.

    But as far as I can tell, from the New Deal up to Reagan we had a more generous social safety net than we do now, and a culture that flat out had less bullying because we banded together and resisted it more, and other countries seem to do more of that than we do today, as with the French workers holding their bosses while they negotiate their severance. I think we should resist bullying more than we do.

    It’s mostly not as glamorous as holding your boss captive, although that’s great too; it would be nice to have a welfare program that doesn’t count ketchup as a vegetable, for example. I prefer a full employment program to a welfare program anyway, but the point is that our government should have more respect for its citizens than to tell the poorest and most desperate that ketchup is a perfectly good vegetable, and that the government is doing a perfectly good job of feeding them when they need food. Pissing on people and telling them it’s raining is simply wrong, and deserves vehement resistance.

    And lest you accuse me of being a welfare queen, I’ve never used welfare and don’t expect ever to do so, but it’s still my neighbors and my country, and it does affect all of us.

    However, I’m starting to think that we’re dealing with a stunningly slow and dumb culture here, and even if our goals are simply modest technical improvements to our existing system, like full employment and health care reform, we need flashy PR stunts like holding bosses captive to make it look revolutionary, and get people to stand up from their couches and help.

  • 14. abelincoln  |  April 11th, 2009 at 11:36 am

    playboy.com, you fucking tool

  • 15. aleke  |  April 11th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    You can match with my passport and visas all you want, traveling the world blind and stupid doesn’t make you any more of an expert than Condoleeza Rice or George Bush.

  • 16. DisappointedReader  |  April 12th, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Since we’re going to quote Mencken (a dullard who makes middlebrows everywhere feel “above” the rest of the imagined fools) here, why not this one:

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    Ames is merely Mencken with a brain.

    It amazes me that someone like Ames can even begin to dream that most of us readers might not be so offended by what he says that we won’t try to find a way to prove to him that we weren’t bothered.

  • 17. blog expert  |  April 12th, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Why are you using a video player for simple audio podcasts? You only need to use a small podcast player for MP3 files. Try:

    http://www.1pixelout.net/code/audio-player-wordpress-plugin/

    Or Odeo. There’s lots of them.

  • 18. captain america  |  April 12th, 2009 at 10:25 am

    aleke, didja notice that your “blind and stupid” argument against james is an ad hominem, almost as if he were the actual neo-nassim taleb (whoever that is)?

    i could probably duke it out with the both of you in the visa and passport stamp department, and beat you both in the foreign-languages-i-can-at-least-get-by-in department, and i’d still side with james about america being the most free country on earth (especially if you throw in cultural freedom along with economic and political). i probably wouldn’t call you “blind and stupid” if you were to disagree, though.

  • 19. Plamen Petkov  |  April 12th, 2009 at 10:53 am

    James,
    to REALLY understand a place you MUST live there at least 4 years or more. that way you can tackle ordinary every day problems by which you can judge a place. Visiting Pataya or France or even Russia for a 2 weeks vacation doesn’t qualify.
    Try living someplace such as China or as I said Russia and THEN you can tell me about economic and political “freedoms”. Why is it you Americans are SO obsessed with these two empty over used words “freedom” and “democracy” I wanna ask?
    How can you even begin to claim USA has the MOST political “freedom” when you in essence have 2 parties system? And both in actuality are the diff sides of the same coin?
    Look at Mr Change so far he has DONE the exact opposite of everything he promised: he won’t take the army out of Iraq, he will send MORE to Afghanistan, he continues to antagonize Russia and China and he as the nerve to pretend to talk “peace” to Iran while US army ships are patrolling near Iranian waters. Same change indeed!
    I wont even comment on your US economic freedom claims, that’s so ridiculous it doesn’t need even mentioning.
    Very peculiar you admit that “capitalism” has reached the end of its useful life as an economic model. You see the contradiction there? Strange indeed.

  • 20. Plamen Petkov  |  April 12th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    to Captain America:
    cultural freedom in USA when you can’t say “fuck” on network TV? Where comic books such as Sillage are censored because nekked breasts cannot be shown?
    I’m in Europe right now and we got a commercial for Visa running on TV where a naked man is running and his ass is shown.
    Maybe you should try vising this country called Japan some time in the future and look what’s allowed in their culture. One word: hentai. Look it up.

  • 21. Traveler  |  April 12th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Wow a whose passport has more stamps contest. I have been to the UK, and seen their system of transportation, which explains why they have so few drunk driving deaths. I have been the France, and seen their workdays, and understand why the French aren’t overstressed. I have been to Russia and seen a resurging sense of a community.

    I sang old schools songs in English pubs. I have learned the truth about the French Kiss. I have felt the waterfall, gently falling down, the crystal clear water, where the fish play, and the cool air of Russia.

    And those are just three countries that I described that popped up in this discussuion. I can describe 10, 20, 30 more countries in the same manner. What’s the use of having a stamp, when you don’t even think to describe a great memory, or pick up on why that country is more efficient then your country of residence?

    There’s a difference between patriots and nationalists. Nationalists always yell “we’re number one!” and then act surprised when their country falls from first to eleventh. Patriots generally try to fix their country, to critique it, to improve it. This is the same, irrespective of the nation. Ames is a patriot. Captain America is a nationalist. I’m glad the blog shows the difference.

  • 22. zealot  |  April 12th, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    so far the best contribution, traveler

  • 23. Ned Kelly  |  April 13th, 2009 at 2:14 am

    “Balki Bartalamoose” wrote:

    “being an immigrant is tough.”

    No. Being a POOR immigrant is tough. Rupert Murdoch is an immigrant.

    “The truth of the matter though, is that being a legal immigrant in the US is far easier than being an immigrant anywhere else in the world.”

    Easier than, say, Australia? Oh, I forgot: American nationalists believe America is the only “free” country in the world. Pity the poor Australians who yearn to escape to the Land of the Free, if only they could cross the Pacific in their little fishing boats.

    “If you’re a dumbass, you don’t rise up the ranks in the career ladder.”

    Condoleeza Rice and virtually the entire US State Department are living refutations of that theory.

    “He could have done what plenty of immigrants do, which is work their asses off or learn a skill.”

    The immigrants who prosper in America are not those who “work their asses off”; they’re the ones who already have business connections before they arrive.

  • 24. Johnny Rico  |  April 13th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    “cultural freedom in USA when you can’t say “fuck” on network TV? Where comic books such as Sillage are censored because nekked breasts cannot be shown?
    I’m in Europe right now and we got a commercial for Visa running on TV where a naked man is running and his ass is shown.

    Because afterall, that’s what is important in life. What are you, retarded?

  • 25. kei&yuri  |  April 13th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Generally we are enthusiastic advocates of Ames’ hypothesis and endorse it in meatspace and online as often as we can. In this particular case we have to agree with of all people Richard Pipes (yuck) that nothing has one explanation and this guy really wasn’t targeted by the Reagan Revolution the way several of the cases Ames documents in his excellent book clearly are.

  • 26. rick  |  April 13th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Sorry, Randers, as a talented person who just keep doing things, for no compensation, because I’m compelled to, shut the fuck up. “I will go on writing essays for the same reason a cow goes on giving milk.” This should basically apply to any talented person, especially one who isn’t grotesquely poor. Excessive compensation retards genius, if anything, demonstrably. Once your hit record, or hit downsizing, rewards you, why bother? It’s amazing how conservative Randers have dominated discourse since Reagan, almost appalling! Even if you want to talk in Ayn Rand, Big Lebowski, “achievement” terms, you can argue almost better for Carter-era tax rates.

    American capitalism worked beautifully with absurdly high tax rates. And when social structures were a little stronger, and economic nets were a little stronger, you didn’t have this phenomenon. Psycho killers are on a despair, normal distribution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution They only pop up when every single thing is fucked. The fact that every single detail of their life feels fucked and inverted is the only way they derive the “moral courage” to do these things.

    That extreme wasn’t possible before.

  • 27. Anthony Rays  |  April 13th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Why was he here in the first place, can someone remind me?

    We used to have very stringent quotas on immigrants, especially muddy ones like this Voong.

    Seems to me we were in much better shape back then.

  • 28. captain america  |  April 13th, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    hey i said the MOST free. didn’t say completely free. one day, god willing, we’ll see that man’s ass as he runs down the street, juanito.

    seriously though, ames hates america, doesn’t he? ames? you a patriot?

  • 29. DisappointedReader  |  April 13th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    It’s rather ironic that a publication which was muzzled by government censorship now chooses to suffer the idiotic words of those who are inferior, and I’m speaking about myself here. As usual, the commenters end up being blathering idiots. Or perhaps I always was?

    Mark, the Exiled has officially gone far too democratic by allowing me even this small outlet, for I am not worthy of one strand of gum-dirt stuck to the bottom of your divine sole. If you can take my whinging in stride, then with all due respect, fuck me.

  • 30. Balki Bartalamoose  |  April 14th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Ned,

    1. Way to get at the heart of the matter: being a poor immigrant IS tougher than being a rich immigrant, isn’t it?

    2. Yes, life here for immigrants is easier than in Australia. More opportunities, easier to get loans and an educaiton, more accepting culture (or are you unaware of the racism faced by asians and indians in Australia?

    3. “Condoleeza rice blah blah blah.” What are you, 12? Also, try to read something Rice wrote in Foreign Affairs. She might have worked for a shitty government with shitty policies, but if you have read anything she has written and not just parroted The Daily Show you’d realize she’s quite intelligent.

    4. You’re so wrong about this it’s unbelievable. Most poor immigrants come here with shit, they are just appreciative of the fact that they have a chance here and they aim to take advantage of it, not sit home whining about how the system is unfair. I’m not even talking about the young ones who get into great colleges and go on to work in programming or engineering or medicine, even the older asians who own dry cleaners and the indians who own corner stores. That’s a success story in itself. You think it’s easy for a foreign to start a business in Europe? Please. You know nothing of the world. Talk to any immigrants in the US, see what they have to say.

  • 31. Roger the cat  |  April 14th, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    This is bullshit. He killed all those people ’cause he was poor and in a bad mood? And because white people were mean to him? I guess I should feel sorry for this murderer.. Come on

  • 32. Mc  |  August 10th, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    If whites go on shooting spree its due to white racism. If non-whites go on a shooting spree its due to white racism as well.

    How insightful…


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