The Connecticut Massacre And America’s Culture of Violence

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The fact is America’s glorification of violence and the amoral avarice of big business leads to tragedies like we witnessed last week. Will the killing of these innocent kids be a positive turning point? That remains to be seen.

[Speaking Truth To Power]

This week residents of Newtown, Connecticut began to bury some of the victims from Friday’s tragic mass murder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School where 27 people were killed—including gunman Adam Lanza.

Some politicians are now saying gun control must be addressed to stop these atrocities.

But given America’s deeply entrenched culture of violence—which includes the overwhelming use of violence by America’s government—will we really see any concrete change after the immediate grief from this latest tragedy subsides?

Monday two six-year-olds, Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, were the first of those killed on Friday to be laid to rest, then on Tuesday six-year-olds James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos were buried.

Besides 20 kids, six adults also lost their lives when shooter Lanza went on a violent rampage. Mr. Lanza reportedly first killed his mother 52-year-old mother, shooting Nancy Lanza four times in the head, and then proceeded to the nearby school—which he once attended—to unleash his deadly rampage. Lanza also killed six adults, including Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

The school shooting was the second deadliest in America after the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre where 32 people were killed by Seung-Hui Cho. It was also the second worst mass murder at an elementary school after 1927 Bath School bombings in Bath Township, Michigan where 45 people were killed—including  38 children. The perpetrator of that crime was 55-year-old Andrew Kehoe a disgruntled school board treasurer.

Speaking in Newtown on Sunday, President Obama said “Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose — much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”

There’s no doubt America must modify its crazy gun-loving attitude. But shouldn’t there be a broader examination of the glorification of violence that is deeply embedded into the country’s psyche? And shouldn’t we analyze how America’s glorification of violence negatively impacts our domestic—and foreign policy—affairs?

In this nation, approximately 84 people are killed by guns daily. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “one white male, 17 years or younger, is murdered every 30 hours” and one Black "male, 17 years or younger, is murdered daily.” In the wake of the tragedy, some people are now saying it’s time to tackle the out-of-control levels of gun violence. Senator Diane Feinstein has said she’ll introduce anti-assault weapon legislation when the new congress convenes. Senator Feinstein, and then New York Representative Charles Schumer --now senator-- authored the 1994 Brady Bill.

Many people are now up in arms because of last Friday’s carnage. Unfortunately, while some politicians are now crying about gun control, and the need for more comprehensive mental health services, many remain unwilling to be honest about the violence rooted in the foundation of this nation. The awful truth is: Capitol Hill is complicit in the murder of these dead children. Blood is on their hands, just as much as it is on Adam Lanza's.  

Some people will argue that this latest tragedy is just the responsibility of one mentally disturbed individual. And, indeed, the nation’s mental health services need to be strengthened. Consider this, the National Institute on Mental Health tells us “30,000 die by suicide each year in the United States. More people die by suicide each year than by homicide.” Moreover, they point out that “Male veterans in the general U.S. population are twice as likely as their civilian peers to die by suicide.” No doubt there’s a mental health aspect that needs to be studied.

Yet, the profuse proliferation of firearms—and the lax legislation that makes it easy to purchase them—has an obvious bearing on these killings. Time and again, we’ve seen these horrendous acts unfold. We saw it in Columbine, at Virginia Tech, in Arizona when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously injured and more recently we saw it in Aurora, Colorado along with many smaller but similar occurrences. So why has Washington failed to intervene?

Once again, big money is at the root of this evil. American gun manufacturing is big business and that is why the NRA has the most influential lobby operating in Washington. Therefore politicians, especially Republicans, make lame excuses about the Second Amendment and protecting the rights of hunters. Does anyone think assault rifles were really made to hunt animals? Aren’t they really made to kill multiple people? Also, shouldn’t we question the whole notion of hunting animals for sport?

Another thing that demands honesty is the hypocrisy of some politicians. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now speaking out on anti-gun initiatives. Nothing’s wrong with that. However, isn’t the mayor being a little hypocritical here when he says not one word regarding the shoot-Black-men-dead then ask-questions-later policy that far too many have in the New York Police Department?

Let’s not forget, during this mayor’s watch: 23-year-old Sean Bell was shot dead in a hail of 50 bullets prior to his wedding; 17-year-old Ramarley Graham was killed in the bathroom of his home; and, more recently 22-year-old Noel Polanco, a New York Army National Guardsman, was executed in his car. All of these men were unarmed victims of the racial profiling practices of the NYPD including the racist Stop-and-Frisk procedures, which target Black men for daily harassment and violence. Doesn’t the brutalization of Blacks by his NYPD concern the mayor?

This same political hypocrisy is clearly evident within the Beltway. During President Obama’s Sunday comments he talked about the “beautiful children” killed in Newtown. What about all the “beautiful children” in places like Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in Congo that are killed with munitions marked “Made in America?”

Dr. Martin Luther King once called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” because of the muscular militarism and imperial interventions America engages in—and the troubling “might makes right” glorification of war. Many times we call those who’ve served in the military heroes. But when soldiers like Timothy McVeigh—who was awarded a Bronze Star—turn their killing techniques on fellow Americans we call them monsters.

Who created these monsters?

The fact is America’s glorification of violence and the amoral avarice of big business leads to tragedies like we witnessed last week. Will the killing of these innocent kids be a positive turning point? That remains to be seen.


Speaking Truth To Empower.




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