There was “mass casualty event” at an American high school yesterday that took the lives of 17 students, and I’m unfortunately not surprised at this point. Mass shootings have become commonplace in America as of late, and after every one of them, the political blame game spins round and round, even before we send out our redundant “thoughts and prayers.”
We have to ban guns. No, we need more guns. We need to put more police in public places — and even in schools to deter shooters. We need to ban gun-free zones. We need to blame all right-wingers. We need to blame all left-wingers. We need to call white violence terrorism. We need to blame psychotropic drugs. We need to ban Muslims. We need to (insert your reactionary opinion here).
Everybody thinks they know what’s wrong, but it seems nobody wants to acknowledge the plainly obvious reasons behind all this violence…
Violence is Inherent to American Identity
America is violent by default. It’s in our DNA as a nation. Born out of the exploitation and genocide of Natives and built off the backs of slaves, the United States has used violence to solve its “problems” since its inception. The country’s independence, itself, was obtained through years of violence — the American revolution. This violence is now venerated and enshrined in popular American mythology and perpetuated ad nauseam in public school history books.
The violence never stopped, and it has been routinely glorified. When Native Americans had something we wanted, we murdered them and took it — over and over again. America’s deft use of violence in World War II became our modern claim to moral superiority. The invasion of Iraq decades later was deemed a gift to Iraqi citizens despite the countless deaths and destruction of their homeland that came with it.
We memorialize those who commit violence for the government and hold them in the highest esteem — throwing tantrums when others express dissenting opinions or fail to bow to the people who serve these institutions.
When children misbehave, we beat them. When people don’t follow the ever-expanding number of (many times unjust) laws in the U.S., we jail them. When a country does something we don’t like, we bomb them and overthrow their government. When a leader does something the U.S. government doesn’t like, we assassinate them. Even what should be civil political discourse has been radicalized into violent rhetoric — the war on women, the war on Christmas, the war on healthcare, the war on cops. War permeates our culture.
Therefore, it’s only natural that when a person is sad, down on themselves, off their meds, or mad about something, picking up a gun to solve their problems with violence seems to be logical. Our government does it, why not them? We beat kids for being “bad,” why would they not use violence against adults? Our government bombs schools in countries we don’t like, so what is so different about an individual getting a gun and shooting up a school in the United States? Our police shoot and kill over 1,000 Americans every year, often because they are afraid of them or because they “did not comply.” Is it any surprise that many of the most atrocious mass shootings in this country were committed by individuals with a fetish for militarism (or policing institutions)? Likewise, Nikolas Cruz, the Florida high school shooter, was a member of the JROTC — an American youth military training organization.