We will hear much talk in the weeks to come of the Lone Gunman, an archetype useful to those of us who wish to absolve ourselves.
Sober news people will soberly shrug their shoulders and whisper into microphones about the mysteries of the human heart. It will be as if there was no motive for the crime, as if the murderer were a machine that malfunctioned rather than an American who mistook sadism for an expression of his beliefs.
The more hysterical reactions will come from those who feel themselves implicated, who fear the great con of their professions exposed. They will react with absurd rituals of denial, as if, after all their violent agitation, they are the ones being fired upon, the victims of some vast and unending conspiracy.
This operatic indignation is what I meant when I spoke, a few months ago, about the American descent into a shame culture.
It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the capacity for moral self-reflection. What happens when a large and well-armed portion of our citizenry can no longer apologize? When humility becomes another form of humiliation? Their heroes exhort them: Never retreat. Reload.