Tuesday, December 18, 2012

America and the culture of killing: In the aftermath of the massacre in Newton Connecticut

Here are some Americans (and one British writer) whose opinions I respect writing in the aftermath of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
" ...the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where twenty-seven people, including eighteen children, were shot to death inside an elementary school, is at least the sixteenth mass shooting to take place in America this year. The death toll is now at eighty-four"
George Zornick 

"The Sandy Hook massacre isn’t just about the need for gun control laws, it is about a culture that condones the killing of children and teaches children that killing is okay.....Sandy Hook did not happen because of a lone, disturbed young man and it is not an isolated incident. It is an epidemic and we are all to blame. And today (and tomorrow and every day after that) is the time to confront this self-inflicted tragedy."
Lucinda Marshall
"We need to start connecting the dots and realizing that the violence we mete out to the world will come back to haunt us a thousand-fold.......................The U.S. is the largest arms manufacturer and exporter in the world. We have by far the largest military. We are also by far the most heavily armed civilian population in the world, with some 300 million guns circulating among our population of about 300 million people. Americans need to acknowledge that collectively, as a nation, we have been responsible for hundreds, and probably thousands of deaths of children worldwide through the weapons we sell abroad. ... It is hypocritical to weep crocodile tears for the slaughter of innocent children ... in Connecticut but to callously ignore the slaughter of innocent children by American drone fire in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan." 
Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

"When I read the paper and see the massacre in CT described as "unimaginable" or "unthinkable" - the words are sprinkled through reports at The New York Times - I keep finding myself wanting to yell 'HEY! Have you not been paying attention? Did you miss the massacre in Portland earlier in the week? Or the half dozen similar episodes earlier in the year?' This is not "evil" visiting the community. It is a man with a gun. Shooting people. Again. And he is doing that because, yes B-E-C-A-U-S-E, we are idiots. We let right wing organizations and demagogues bully us and we let judges and politicians make decisions, by turns moronic and craven, about the unfettered right to bear arms. And on a monthly basis, now, we whimper about how another "unthinkable" and "unimaginable" massacre has occurred. Oh, and by the way. The semi-automatic weapons Adam Lanza used to kill his mother and then all the kids and staff at the school apparently were his mom's. Yet another instance in which having a gun in the frickn' house made no one safer"
Jim Johnson
 There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town. It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world's concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world's newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.
George Monbiot
""America is obsessed with violence and death, and this fixation not only provides profits for Hollywood, the defense industries, and the weapons industries, it also reproduces a culture of war and cruelty that has become central to America’s national identity -- one that is as shameful as it is deadly to its children and others. The war on public school teachers and children has reached its tragic apogee with the brutal and incomprehensible killing of the young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is indeed ironic, in the unfolding nightmare in Newtown, that only in the midst of such a shocking tragedy are teachers celebrated in ways that justly acknowledge -- albeit briefly and inadequately -- the vital role they play every day in both protecting and educating our children. What is repressed in these jarring historical moments is that teachers have been under vicious and sustained attack by right-wing conservatives, religious fundamentalists and centrist Democrats since the beginning of the 1980s. ... If the United States is to prevent its slide into a deeply violent and anti-democratic state, it will, among other things, be required fundamentally to rethink not merely the relationship between education and democracy, but also the very nature of teaching, the role of teachers as engaged citizens and public intellectuals, and the relationship between teaching and social responsibility." 
Henry Giroux

"Another senseless mass shooting,
Scores dead, mostly children.
Shot by a young man,
It is almost always young men who do these things.
The media says he was disturbed,
But fail to mention that he is disturbed by living in a disturbed society.
The President goes on television and cries,
But offers no plan of action,
As if we had the luxury of not taking action,
As if it is okay to slaughter innocents,
But then he regularly condemns innocent people to death when he orders military actions,
So perhaps he is used to senseless deaths, tears not withstanding.
The rightwing zealots say we do not pray enough,
Or carry enough concealed weapons.
And the media insists on reporting these insane babblings,
Because there must be two sides to every story.
But there are not two sides to this story.
I remember so clearly the morning of the Columbine shootings,
Walking my children in to school,
Holding their little hands too tightly,
Terrified to leave,
Hugging other grim faced parents as we pray that they would be safe.
And yet tonight, the stars twinkled impossibly brightly in the clear night sky."
Lucinda Marshall
Remember the 20 children who died in Newtown, Connecticut. 
Remember the 35 children who died in Gaza this month from Israeli bombardments.

Remember the 168 children who have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006.

Remember the 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year.

Remember the 400 other children in the US under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year.

Remember the 921 children killed by US air strikes against insurgents in Iraq.

Remember the 1,770 US children who die each year from child abuse and maltreatment.

Remember the 16,000 children who die each day around the world from hunger.

These tragedies must end.

Bill Quigley


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