Slaughter of the Innocents


“Massacre of the Innocents” by Valerio Castello, oil on canvas, 1650-59. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In Rama was there a voice heard,

lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children,

and would not be comforted,

because they are not.

Matthew, 2:18

After the fall of the US Empire, we will not be remembered for our shining Constitution, or our dream of freedom, or because we landed the first man on the moon. We shall be remembered—as Allen Ginsberg once prophesied—as votaries of Moloch,

(What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?[1])

who were willing to throw our children into the fire in the belly of the beast for the sake of our profits, our fascination with guns, and our sad imbecilities.

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—names of killing fields visited during one continuous, unending nightmare. We shed tears, bury the bodies of the young and nothing happens. There is no Theseus among us willing to enter the Labyrinth and slay the Minotaur. There are no Abrahams brave enough to change our Old Testament God rather than sacrifice to him the life of our sons and daughters (see our post “Angel of Abraham”). Only days after the shooting at Douglas High, in front of a number of teenage survivors of the massacre, the Florida legislature refused “to consider a ban on large-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the AR-15.”


“Offering to Molech” by Charles Foster, 1897. This is an idol named Molech. A great many people used to pray to this idol. It had the head of a calf, and was made of brass, and it was hollow inside. There was a place in the side to make a fire in it. When it got very hot the wicked people used to put their little children in its arms. The little children were burned to death there. This man in the picture is just going to put a little child in the idol’s arms. Other men are blowing on trumpets and beating on drums, and making a great noise, so that no one can hear the poor little child cry. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

What is proposed by our president? As if from a six-year old who has watched too many shootouts on TV comes the answer: Arm the teachers!

According to Trump, a teacher with a handgun and a “bit of a bonus” would go up against a mass murderer armed with an AR-15 “practically for free.” What is disturbing here is that Trump is not being cynical: he really means it.

Fortunately, we can put his suggestion to the test. Let’s relieve the Secret Service from all present duties and assign its personnel and resources to school security across the nation. Let’s offer appropriate gun training to Trump, Pence and their families and distribute a handgun to each family member. (We can even give them a “bit of a bonus” for extra duty.) Then let’s see if that keeps them free from attackers.

From the Hierophant of the Church of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, comes the usual dictum: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” And yet a “good guy with a gun” (an Armed School Resource Officer) was present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High when the shooting began, and never went inside the school building. The only good guys confronting the shooter were the unarmed teachers, students and staff members of the school.


Muerte de los Santos Inocentes, Fachada del Nacimiento, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain. 21 March 2008. (Credit: Canaan / Wikimedia Commons)

From one of the High Priestesses of the NRA, Dana Loesch, comes a new pronouncement which hides an ancient truth: “Many in legacy media love mass shootings.” Fair enough, but the statement stops far short from the truth. Loesch does not mention that the Second Amendment militias were intended for the killing of Indians and the enslavement of Africans. “Can you make a land virgin by killing off its aborigines?” This question was posed by D.H. Lawrence at the beginning of the 20th century as he contemplated American history and literature. Lawrence concluded: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”[2]

If the media loves mass shootings, it is because we all do, as devoted members of the Church of the NRA.

Finally there is the mental health canard. As a Jungian, I’m never far away from the Freudian notion that we are all, in some way, mentally disturbed. But here is truth from a character in one of Bernard Shaw’s plays:

God knows it’s hard enough to have to bring a boy unto the world and nurse him up to be a man only to have him brought home to you on a shutter…. But men are like children when they get a gun in their hands: theyre [sic] not content until theyve [sic] used it on somebody.

There is a spirit in the gun—the sole function of which is to kill—that causes the “breaking out of the devil thats [sic] in all of us.”[3]

Who among us is so small that in a choice between Isaac and the knife would choose the sacrificial knife over the boy? Who would not choose his/her own death to save their offspring? We must get rid of our present bloody deity and get born over again as unlike ourselves as possible.

This time, let’s not come back as killers.



“Death of the Pharaoh’s Firstborn Son” (Ex. 12:29) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1872. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

[1] Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems (1956; San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1959), 21.

[2] D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature (1922; New York: Doubleday and Co., 1955), 73.

[3] Bernard Shaw, Selected One Act Plays (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), 11-12.


  1. In your post, you include D. H. Lawrence’s conclusion: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”
    Your eloquent words indicate some American souls have been thawed. Thank you, deeply, for offering up this painful essay for consideration. As an American classroom teacher of 32 years, I look to an awakened youth to provide the change that is required.


    1. Thank you, Jeffrey, for your years in the classroom and your generous words. I come from a family of teachers myself, and cannot but be concerned about my younger daughter, a 1st grade teacher, her students, and my own grandchildren. I too look for hope in our youth.


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