FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands

Ten people were killed and seven wounded recently in a mass shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon. Such shootings are more than another tragic expression of unchecked violence in the United States, they are symptomatic of a society engulfed in fear, militarism, a survival-of-the-fittest ethos, and a growing disdain for human life. Sadly, this shooting is not an isolated incident. Over 270 mass shootings have taken place in the US this year alone, proving once again that the economic, political, and social conditions that underlie such violence are not being addressed.

State repression, unbridled self-interest, an empty consumerist ethos, and war-like values have become the organizing principles of American society producing an indifference to the common good, compassion, a concern for others, and equality. As the public collapses into the individualized values of a banal consumer culture and the lure of private obsessions, American society flirts with forms of irrationality that are at the heart of every-day aggression and the withering of public life. American society is driven by unrestrained market values in which economic actions and financial exchanges are divorced from social costs, further undermining any sense of social responsibility.

In addition, a wasteful giant military-industrial-surveillance complex fueled by the war on terror along with America’s endless consumption of violence as entertainment and its celebration of a pervasive gun culture normalizes the everyday violence waged against black youth, immigrants, children fed into the school to prison pipeline, and others considered disposable. American politicians now attempt to govern the effects of systemic violence while ignoring its underlying causes. Under such circumstances, a society saturated in violence gains credence when its political leaders have given up on the notion of the common good, social justice, and equality, all of which appear to have become relics of history in the United States.

In the face of mass shootings, the public relations disimagination machine goes into overdrive claiming that guns are not the problem, and that the causes of such violence can be largely attributed to the mentally ill. When in actuality, as two Vanderbilt University researchers, Dr. Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth T. MacLeish, publishing in the American Journal of Public Health observed that “Fewer than 6 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.”

It may not be an exaggeration to claim that the American government has blood on its hands because of the refusal of Congress to rein-in a gun lobby that produces a growing militarism that sanctions a love affair with the unbridled corporate institutions, financial interests, and mass produced cultures of violence. The Oregon community college shooting is the 41st school shooting this year while there have been 142 incidents of violence on school properties since 2012. Yet, the violence continues unchecked, all the while legitimated by the cowardly acts of politicians who refuse to enact legislation to curb the proliferation of guns and support legislation as elementary as background checks–which 88 percent of the American people support.

Americans are obsessed with violence. They not only own nearly 300 million firearms, but also have a love affair with powerful weaponry such as 9MM Glock semi-automatic pistols and AR15 assault rifles. Collective anger, frustration, fear, and resentment increasingly characterizes a society in which people are out of work, young people cannot imagine a decent future, everyday behaviours are criminalized, inequality in wealth and income are soaring, and the police are viewed as occupying armies. This is not only a recipe for both random violence and mass shootings; it makes such acts appear routine and commonplace.

President Obama is right in stating that the violence we see in the United States is “a political choice we make that allows this to happen.” While taking aim at the gun lobby, especially the National Rifle Association, what Obama fails to address is that extreme violence is systemic in American society and has become the foundation of politics and must be understood within a broader historical, economic, cultural, and political context. To be precise, politics has become an extension of violence driven by a culture of fear, cruelty, and hatred legitimated by the politicians bought and sold by the gun lobby and other related militaristic interests. Moreover, violence is now treated as a sport, a pleasure-producing industry, a source of major profits for the defense industries, and a corrosive influence upon American democracy. And as such it is an expression of a deeper political and ethical corruption in American society.

As the United States moves from a welfare state to a warfare state, state violence becomes normalized. America’s moral compass and its highest democratic ideals have begun to wither, and the institutions that were once designed to help people now serve to largely supress them. Gun laws matter, social responsibility matters, a government responsive to its people matters. At the same time gun lobbyists should not matter, money controlling politics should not matter, the mad proliferation of mad violence in the popular culture should not matter, and the ongoing militarization of American society should not matter either.

Gun violence in America is inextricably tied to economic violence and the violence reproduced by politicians who would rather support the military-industrial-gun complex than address the most basic needs and social problems faced by the American people. When violence becomes an organizing principle of society, the fabric of a democracy begins to unravel suggesting that America is at war with itself.  When politicians refuse out of narrow self and financial interests to confront the conditions that create such violence, they have blood on their hands.

More articles by:

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and is the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013), Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2018), and the American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights, 2018). His website is www. henryagiroux.com.

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail