Jul 22, 2012

'Violence and Barbarism' in Retrograde United States

La JornadaWorldmeets.US original translation by Douglas Myles Rasmussen
See Spanish Original.

The mass murder that occurred during the first few minutes in a Colorado theater yesterday - where an armed gunman killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 50 - brought forth voices of condemnation and solidarity in the society and political class of the United States, from the nation’s president, Barack Obama, who declared five days of national mourning as a sign of respect for the victims of this act of senseless violence, to his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, and has rekindled the perennial debate about the need to regulate arms trade in that country.

This massacre is the bloodiest event since the April 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, where 33 people died as a consequence of two attacks with firearms by a student there. Unfortunately, acts like that at a university campus and this one at a movie theater are not isolated events: 13 years later, the memory of the infamous April, 1999 slaughter at Columbine High School - also in Colorado - is still fresh. At Columbine, fifteen students were killed.

One must also add to the list the violent events at the end of 2007, when a 19-year-old armed with an assault rifle killed eight people at a mall in Nebraska, as well as the string of bloody events in 2009: in March, the killing of 11 people in a series of shootings in Alabama; in April, the hostages that were taken at an immigrant center in the town of Binghamton, New York, which ended in the murder of 14 people; and the mass murder perpetrated by the Pakistani-American [Palestinian American, actually] psychologist Nidal Malik Hasan on a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, where 13 people died (12 soldiers and one policeman), with 31 seriously wounded. And in January of last year, a shooting in Tucson, Arizona, left six people dead and 13 wounded, one of whom was Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The list also includes a series of lesser shootings in many of our neighbor’s cities, which usually leave behind dead and wounded.

These horrifying episodes all share one indisputable common denominator – aside from the mental disorders of the individuals who carried them out: the excessive proliferation of firearms among our neighboring country’s population, supported by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which grants all citizens the unrestricted right to arm themselves. It is estimated that there are almost 300 million individually-owned firearms in the United States - almost one per person - and on a daily basis, on average more than 80 people die from assaults committed with such weapons. The possession of firearms - illegal or not - on the part of resident of that nation is also fueled by the determined support of reactionary and chauvinistic segments of U.S. society, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), an ultra-conservative organization closely tied to the Republican Party, which has dedicated itself to opposing any government attempt to regulate the trade in firearms. What happened at the theater in Colorado coincides with the discussion in the United States over the adoption of a treaty among U.N. member states to better-regulate the international trade in conventional arms [The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty]. This has been portrayed by the NRA as an attempt on the part of Obama to limit the aforementioned constitutional provision

Events like yesterday’s exhibit, in short, the devastating effects of an anachronistic and deadly approach to gun control that prevails in the United States that amounts to the reproduction, on a national scale, of the “law of the jungle” that Washington has sought to impose on the world. The lack of ability or willingness of the Obama Administration to regulate and contain the sale of weapons not only periodically results in a nation in mourning, it affects other nations like ours - remember the massive smuggling of weapons from the United States into Mexico under Operation Fast and Furious.

The Colorado massacre is further of evidence that the current U.S. government has been defeated by the ominous inertia so prevalent in the politics, economy and culture of that country, which sees itself as a great champion of civility for the rest of the world, but which instead finds itself a more backward place thanks to its systematic tendency toward violence and barbarism.

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