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April 20, 2014

America’s Epidemic of Violence Is Not New

by Arshad M. Khan

Source:  Dissident Voice

As the Boston marathon gets underway, there is the unavoidable recall of the horrific
bombing last year. It also leads to the inevitable question of why this country is
plagued with violence.

Violence has been so much in the news lately that President Obama’s leading
hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune ran an investigation on shootings in
Chicago over a 36-hour period commencing on a Friday evening. The recorded
incidents averaged a shocking one every hour. Over 36 people were shot leaving four
dead and 33 wounded, some seriously.

The Illinois legislature has recently passed a concealed-carry law granting private
individuals the right to carry a concealed weapon. Permit seekers are required to
undertake a course and be instructed in safety procedures all of it costing an average
of $150. Will it solve the problem? One doubts it though there is limited evidence to
the contrary, including a University of Chicago study in Florida showing a decline in
street crime after such a law was passed there.

Over the last few months, it seems every week there is a mass shooting, bombing, or
a memorial service in the news: The Sandy Hook School shooting has been on the
airwaves over discussions about commemoration; Vice President Biden spoke at the
anniversary of the Boston marathon bombing last week; the week before, the
President attended a memorial service for the Fort Hood mass shooting victims of the
previous week; the day following, a Pennsylvania high school student went berserk —
armed with a couple of knives, he slashed and stabbed 24 before being subdued; two
days later a former Klu Klux Klansman shot and killed three people at a Jewish
community center and a synagogue.

There have always been guns in this country but why is it that nowadays people with
some relatively minor disenchantment, or a grievance, or even hatred are shooting up
innocent people. This is new. Killing innocents has become a way of protest as in the
Boston marathon bombing. Does the constant replay of such events put ideas in the
heads of disturbed people? Does violence in the news, its glorification in
entertainment, in video games and movies, desensitize people to killing and mayhem?
Or is it the perpetual real-life violence/war that has been on-going for a generation? It
certainly was the proximate cause of the Fort Hood army base shootings — both of

General Smedley Butler (1881-1940) was one of just 19 men to win the Congressional
Medal of Honor twice and the only one to also receive the Marines Brevet Medal. His
oft repeated quote from his book War Is a Racket goes as follows: “I spent most of my
time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the
Bankers. I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in
1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to
collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics
for the benefits of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking
house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for
American sugar interests in 1916. In China in 1927 I helped to see to it that Standard
Oil went its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few
hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on
three continents.”

Sad to see such ways have not changed in the 21st century. The destruction of Iraq
under false accusation, the manufactured civil war in Libya leading to the chaos now
prevailing, the civil war in Syria, and the coup against a democratically elected
government in Ukraine that was leaning towards Russia all follow in a line from the
overthrow of the elected Mossadegh government in Iran (oil), Guatemala (bananas),
Allende in Chile (copper), to the constant pressure now on the elected Maduro
government in Venezuela.

Force and the threat of force, the use of drones for execution at the cost through
error or collateral damage of hundreds of innocents all lead to a mind-set viewing
violence as the quick and easy preferred solution. It is a reincarnated Rome where TV
and movies satisfy the blood lust sated in the past at the coliseum, and the gun is the
ever-present answer to problems.