We are a nation forged in blood. Violence is our thing. America, as stated here time and again, is the great human experiment. And so far, for the past 300,000 or so years of humanity the results have been fairly consistent. We are super-duper violent. And in the freest of national constructs, humanity gets to let it all hang out. And man, we have done a fantastic job of bringing the bang. Since day-one, shit, before day-one, Americans have killed everything and anyone in our path, then expanded that globally, and then when that wasn’t enough, we turned the big stuff on ourselves. Violence is in our political structure, our media, our religions, our neighborhoods, our sports, our hobbies, our obsessions, our songs, our art, our vocabulary, our DNA.
I have written about all of this since this column started in the late summer of 1997. In the first volume of my collected musings, Fear No Art – Observations on the Death of the American Century, there is a piece from 12/9/97, LOVE & HATE that frames it. Since, there have been many revisits here to this American Violence phenomenon. So why bring this up now? We know we like to kill and celebrate killing and make movies about it, video games, all of that stuff. Seems kind of redundant and a little condescending. Or… is it?
Timing is everything in life, as it is in journalism, and especially commentary. And in the last few months, there has been an alarming uptick (that is being kind, it has been a flood) of violence in this country. We were barely through January when the president lost his shit and invited a bunch knuckle-draggers to Washington D.C. to attack the Capitol and threaten the lives of the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and Capitol Police, a few died, along with other casualties. Welcome to 2021!
Then there are 147 mass shooting so far this year.
That is 147 in 106 days.
According to the tally on the Gun Violence Archive 2021 site, there has been 12,406 gun-related deaths in 2021 – 5,410 in the homicide department, 6,996 by suicide and some 9,754 injured. Eighty-seven children have died by the gun so far, 184 injured, and 313 teens (758 injured). It is barely halfway through April. We are on a killing spree folks. Hang on tight.
Of course, we love guns. I get this. We are not going to stop loving guns. I also get this. The gun is a part of the great American experiment. Deal with it. Also, deal with these deaths. It is part of the violence pact we have here. We will be violent, and we will love guns. It is in our national anthem and our constitution. Hard to argue against any of this. Many have tried. The most popular bill ever is the Brady Bill. People mostly want gun control. But they can’t have it. Killing is way more popular.
War is the offshoot of our love of high-powered weaponry. We used to be excellent at war. We totally suck at it now. And we spend a lot of blood and treasure to suck at it. We haven’t won a real war since 1945. That is more than a half-century of sucking. But we still love it. Why? Because it is really violent.
The above list of this year’s wild doings does not include the thousands of stabbings, violence in robberies, violent retribution for spurned lovers, dumped spouses, angered friends, upset employees, politically disenfranchised losers, racists, economically despaired loners, and the usual shit – rape, pedophilia, Florida congressmen romps. There is someone killing someone right now as I right this. Actually, a lot of killing.
But what really brings all this home is the violence perpetuated on the citizenry by its police forces. This is especially prevalent in African American communities. For the uninitiated and deaf to all this, it is kind of why there is a Black Lives Matter movement. Not to promote Marxism or as some kind of progressive attack on cops, just shitty, racist ones who kill unarmed Black citizens over and over and over and over and over and over… I have also written about this over and over, especially in the last few years, also bringing to bare the police union, which is the most immovable workforce in the history of any nation. The police unions are so strong their members have free reign to kill, maim, break into homes, beat, choke, and generally manhandle any of us with zero retribution. It is pretty much a Gestapo Force. Nah, it is a Gestapo Force.
Just last week about a short hop and a skip from where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis cop, who is currently on trial there, there was yet another shooting of an unarmed Black man. You can’t make this up. You wouldn’t. In fact, you should expect it.
So, I wouldn’t say we have a gun problem, or a cop problem, or even a systemic racist problem per se. What we have here is an American Violence Problem. We’ve learned to live and die with it. Like we will with pollution, bad television, the homeless, NFL and soon COVID-19.
Those are just symptoms of the grand human experiment.