“America is stepping backward,” my wife said.
We were watching the CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley, and Pelley was standing in front of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, where nine black people were murdered in cold blood by a young white man … because they were black.
There are tragic intersections in American life and this was one of them: The racism that is still rampant across American, and the American Culture of Violence.
Oh, I know, there will be calls for gun control, as if controlling the means of murder is even possible. If every gun law in America were strictly enforced it wouldn’t make a dent in the number of people killed by bullets. Meaningful gun control will never happen in the United States of Reloaders.
No, the base cause of this is, again, the American Culture of Violence. Twist any mind enough and it can justify horrendous bloodshed. And why not? Violence is presented daily to Americans – and we Americans hand it off to the world – as the solution to all of our problems.
Case in point: The motion picture “True Lies,” which was on TV one day last week when I was home for lunch, grossed $378,882,411 worldwide. Sure, it was lots of fun watching Roseanne’s ex and the Governator pretend to push a guy off the top of a hydro dam. And Jaime Curtis never looked better than when she … well, she never looked better.
But what was the movie’s subtext? Killing people is a solution to when bad guys kill people. The final body count, according to moviebodycounts.com (yes, there really is a web site like that) is 71. Seventy-one human beings snuffed as if they were nothing. No fewer than 28 fellow humans are blown apart or ripped to shreds in the climactic scene at the end of the movie.
Oh, but it’s just a movie, right? But that movie still sends a powerful message. It says that if you’re on the same side as Arnold Schwarzenegger, a handsome, rich white guy, then you can kill bad dark-skinned people with impunity. And bad people are always dark-skinned, or they talk funny, or they’re otherwise not like we descendants of Europeans. And who better than Schwarzenegger to represent the white European immigrant who pacified North America? So it’s okay to eradicate those non-white bad guys, and a gun is the most efficient way to do that. Or a $30 million airplane loaded with guns, if you’re white, handsome, wealthy European immigrant Arnold.
Spewing death from a gun is offered as a solution on a daily basis, on television and in movies and especially in video games. Killing solves problems. The killer last week said he was tired of blacks “raping our women.” The solution? Kill them. (Side note: I have to wonder how many white women had been raped by those six black women killed in Emanuel Church.)
So, how do we address this culture of violence? Do we try to discourage image-makers from making images of bloodbaths? What part of $300 mil did you not understand?
No, there is only one way to address this kind of violence, and we can take our cue from our friends in Israel. Get used to it. Israelis long ago decided their own delusion about denying Palestinian statehood was more important than the occasional sacrifice of Jewish families. That’s what Americans need to do. Quit whining about it.
We have more freedom than any other nation in the world, including the freedom to own guns we don’t need and the freedom to hate people we know nothing about. That means, every once in awhile, innocent people are going to die. So get used to it. Our lives and our loved ones aren’t safe but, by God, our freedoms sure are.