Putting Ourselves in the Crosshairs

Putting Ourselves in the Crosshairs

Violence is largely an “American” thing. Not African, not Chinese, although some of the worst violence in mankind’s history has occurred there. But organic violence, violence allowed free reign to grow, is distinctly American.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others murdered in Tucson is why I say this.

If you’re reading this instead of the billions of other blogs about Giffords, it’s because you know my life has been spent in Africa. And when it hasn’t been in Africa, I spend a lot of time talking to other people who aren’t African about how Africa isn’t really as violent, isn’t as murderous, isn’t as corrupt as … well, America.

And here’s why.

First, let’s start with just the ultimate violence: killing. In my lifetime, Americans have been involved (either as the killers or the killed) in killings in the world more than any other nationality.

Add up the Rwanda genocide, the slaughters in the Congo, the political killings throughout China and North Korea, the secret killings in Argentina and Chile, the Balkan slaughters, and the ongoing and endless civil wars in the Horn of Africa.

It still doesn’t equal the involved killings in all the American wars of my lifetime. Likely it doesn’t even add up to the involved killings of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

In the generation before me, this supreme total wasn’t America’s. It was Europe’s, with the holocaust and the Balkan genocides such as Armenia. (A close second was the prolonged killings of the Stalin regime.)

Not Africa. Not then, not now.

Violence as a true act of self-defense is a bitter morality. But during my lifetime violence in self-defense (WWII) has morphed into violence as preemption.

I don’t think that Giffords’ accused murderer was a sane activist. But he was influenced by the hate and vile (vitriol, as the Puma County Sheriff explains) of the Right.

Fact: Sarah Palin removed her website of “targeted” Congressional seats, where crosshairs were used to designate the Congressional districts the tea party should beat, within hours of the Giffords’ shootings.

Sarah Palin knew it was inflammatory. Removal so quickly was an admission it was wrong to begin with.

A number of other sites came down quickly from the Right as well.

Likely there will always be violence. Poorly brought up, abused, neglected children often turn violent. Abused, neglected, tortured and impoverished adults often turn violent. I believe society should try to rectify all this, but even without doing so, in the past these unhinged people did not direct their violence against Government.

So often it was against women, wives and daughters.

So often it was against other ethnic races, immigrants, other religions, people who aren’t like you. Sometimes it was against animals, or glass because it makes such a clatter shattering. Sometimes it was random.

But in my generation, in America, it’s turned from all of those to… Government.

That’s new. We have never had as many Timothy McVeigh or Jared Lee Loughner wannabees as before. There were some. Nearly one out of every four American presidents has been assassinated. But nowhere near as many Oklahoma Public Buildings, or Maryland State Buildings, or airplanes, or churches… or public officials “targeted in crosshairs” as today.

A junior Congressmen from Idaho didn’t have a body guard when I was child. It didn’t take me two hours to check-in at O’Hare. I wasn’t allowed to bring an unconcealed gun into the Davenport city council meeting, or into my Econ 101 lecture at the University of Iowa as a part of my “right to self-defense.”

Sarah Palin isn’t the cause. She’s just another symptom. She transferred her violence from herself to the public at large. Society couldn’t make her happy. So better than beating a grandchild, she beats Government. There’s a certain bitter-sweet logic to this. And by the very nature of her public scope, she transfers this violence to millions.

We can’t live without Government. We can’t live without Big Government. And we can’t live without Big Government doing a lot more than just “defense.”

Government is Society, Community, the Group of Us. By our neglect of Society, Community, the Group of Us, we have become our own targets. We have become socially suicidal. Americans have put themselves in the Crosshairs.