America’s culture of violence examined

“On an international scale, America exports its culture of under-regulated violence.” Today’s edition of Le Monde carries an article by Heidi Morrison that puts recent events at U.S. elementary school in the context of broader patterns of American violence in recent years and the nation’s history. Reminiscent of Richard Slotkin’s classic Regeneration through Violence, Morrison examines this tragic tradition, as excerpted below:images-3

“Seeking an explanation for tragic violence, we often turn to history and ask ourselves how we got to this point.  Writing the historical narrative for the forces that led to the horrific elementary school massacre of 28 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook has already begun. Commentators correctly place Sandy Hook in a recent line of similar incidents (Aurora, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech…) — all testimony for America’s lack of dialogue on gun control and commitment to mental health services. The narrative holds that American culture is becoming increasingly violent.

“In the last decade, children in places like Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza have also died at the hands of America’s culture of violence. Yet, there is no national outpouring of grief and outrage in America for these children.  There is a disconnect in the American psyche between what causes our own children to die and what causes other children abroad to die.

“A recent study by Harvard’s School of Public Health revealed that where there are more guns, there are more incidents of homicide. Yet, there is little regulation of arms in America and token regulation of American arms in the world. Most people in America can purchase a gun without having to undergo training, meet health requirements, obtain liability insurance, or participate in a system of renewals and inspections. It is easier to own a gun license than a driver’s license. There are not adequate monitors to prevent weapons from flowing freely in American homes, cities, states, and regions.  The weapons control us. We do not know when or where we will be gunned down; even our children learning their ABCs here in America are fair game.

“On an international scale, America exports its culture of under-regulated violence. CIA drone attacks in Pakistan between 2004-2012 killed 176 children, just as innocent as those at Sandy Hook. The recent assault on Gaza killed 33 children with the full endorsement (and military aid) of President Obama. People around the world never know when they will be the next targets of American attacks. Children in Pakistan and Yemen hear American drones buzzing overhead on a regular basis, wondering when one will land on their school.

“There is no effective system of regulation of American violence on an international scale. US arms sales disproportionately make up most of the global market where America has led the race for eight years running, while spending as much on defense as the next 17 countries combined (most of whom are American allies). And violence seems to only increase the sales and proliferation of more weapons, with US arms sales tripling to a record $66 billion in 2011. As the war on Iraq showed, not even the United Nations can hold America’s culture of violence in check.  Not even America can protect itself from its massive exportation of weapons. Was there any assurance that the weapons funneled into Libya during its civil war by way of Qatar did not arm anti-American fundamentalists who would attack our embassy? Was there any assurance that US weapons given to Al-Qaeda to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan would not be used against us?”


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