Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Roots of Arizona's Violence: Assassination of
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 16, 2011
As expected, America's major media won't explain it. Nation
magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel ducked the issue, saying it's "a time
for grief, not grievance." Blaming a "crazed act of a clearly unstable man,"
she called it "an assassination of democracy....shut(ting) down speech to
slay those seeking its exercise," then added "we still don't know whether
(violent rhetoric) was responsible for last weekend's horror."
Wall Street Journal "Murder in Tucson" editorial deflected blame from hard
right extremists, and rejected political reasons for the attack, saying:
"....Loughner is a mentally disturbed man who targeted Congresswoman
Gabrielle Giffords and anyone near here....because she was prominent and
they were tragically accessible....Whatever confused political motives he
expressed seem merely to be part of the maelstrom of his mental sickness."
In other words, blame a "deranged" gunman, not society, its extremist
politicians, demagogic media hosts and pundits, and America's longstanding
culture of violence. More on it below.
New York Times writers Marc
Lacey and David Herszenhorn noted "political repercussions," concern for
personal security, denunciation of threats and acts of violence against
public officials, and overall outrage. Ignored was growing anger from
festering economic conditions and the proliferation of violence across
America, never reported when ordinary people are affected.
"Blood and Invective in Arizona" editorial noted accused gunman Jared
Loughner's mental illness and "Internet ravings about government mind
control," saying also that "scores of politicians" receive violent threats
without explaining reasons for public anger or that society top down is
Unexplained as well is how radically, in recent
decades, America shifted right, accentuated by extremist talk show hosts
like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Back, Sean Hannity, and many lesser known ones
except to their faithful. Also politicians, including conservative
Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Party favorites like defeated Senate
candidate Sharron Angle, referring to congressional "domestic enemies and
homegrown enemies," needing "Second Amendment remedies" as a "cure" for "The
Harry Reid Problems."
Key as well is the nation's
political/media-led war against Muslims, Latino immigrants, people of color,
whistleblowers, progressives, dissent, and anyone considered unAmerican.
Most of all is America's violent culture, a topic a previous article
addressed, accessed through the following link:
Key parts relating to domestic violence are covered below. It began by
explaining that from inception, America glorified wars and violence in the
name of peace. It's waged them every year in its history at home and/or
abroad against one or more adversaries.
It has by far the highest
homicide rate of all western nations and a passion for owning guns. Violent
films are some of the most popular, and similar video games crowd out
simpler, more innocent street play of generations earlier.
Prescription and illicit drugs use is out-of-control as well as tobacco,
alcohol and other type substance abuses.
Moreover, US society is called
a "rape culture," data showing:
-- one-fourth of adult women are
victimized by forcible rape sometime in their lives, often by someone they
know, including family members;
-- one-third of them are victims of
sexual abuse by a husband or boyfriend;
-- 30% of people say they
know a woman who's been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the
-- one in four women report being sexually molested in
childhood, usually repeatedly over extended periods by a family member or
other close relative;
-- American women overall experience extreme
levels of violence; an astonishing 75% of them are victims of some form in
--domestic violence is their leading cause of
injury and second leading cause of death;
-- statistically, homes,
with men in them, are their most dangerous place as millions of women
experience battering by husbands, male partners or fathers;
most women with children, there's no escape for lack of means and because
male assailants pursue them, causing greater harm;
-- adding further
injury, societal help is often lacking because women are afforded second
class status, privileges and redress when they're abused, so many suffer in
silence fearing coming forward may cause more harm than help;
their children are also abused; millions suffer serious neglect, physical
mistreatment and/or sexual abuse; many only get relief through escape to
dangerous streets where they end up alone, more vulnerable and in greater
danger away than at home, where there, too, families act more like strangers
or predators, forcing young kids to flee in the first place.
Throughout America, irrespective of class, income, race, religion or
ethnicity, these conditions are more commonplace than rare. Moreover, peace,
tranquility and safety are illusions when crowded out by foreign wars and
domestic violence at home, in communities, neighborhoods, schools, through
the media, in core families, and by federal, state and local governments
waging war on ordinary people.
It begs the question: what kind of
country glorifies mass killing, assaults and abuse; that calls pacifist
nonviolence sissy and unpatriotic, yet claims peace loving, "indispensable
state" credentials, and manipulates false notions of exceptionalism and
moral superiority to force our ways on others globally. It's no third world
dictatorship. It's America where human rights, civil liberties, democratic
values, common dignity, and personal safety are more illusion than fact.
American Society Breeds Violence
America aside, popular culture breeds domestic violence. Television features
it, studies showing nearly every home has at least one TV set, and 54% of
children have their own in their bedrooms. They spend 28 hours a week on
average watching, double the time spent in school, so they learn more about
life through the media than from parents, teachers or friends.
Before age 18, the average American child watches 200,000 acts of violence,
including 16,000 murders, and studies show homicide rates doubled 10 - 15
years after television was introduced.
Moreover, potential adverse
effects from excessive media exposure include:
-- increased violent
-- impaired school performance;
sexual activity and use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs; and
-- decreased family communication among other negative influences, unrelated
directly to violence.
Studies show that two-thirds of children's
programming have violence, three-fourths committed goes unpunished, and most
victims aren't shown experiencing pain. Moreover, nearly half the TV
violence children see is in cartoons, usually portrayed humorously with
victims hardly ever having long-term consequences.
In addition, big
screen films are similar, exposing children like adults. So is online
material, including pedophile cyber-seduction on unsuspecting children,
leading to sexual assaults.
Studies also show how violent video
games (VVGs) like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and Mortal Kombat may increase
aggressive thoughts, beliefs and behavior both in laboratory settings and
real life. They're worse than TV or films because they're interactive and
engrossing, getting players to identify with aggressors by acting like them
while playing. These games teach violence. Many young people play them often
and parents don't object. No wonder years later they exhibit the same
violent behavior as adults.
The American Psychological Association's
(APA) March 2010 Psychological Bulletin published an analysis of 136 papers,
representing 130,296 participants and studies from several countries. It
showed a consistent correlation between violent video game use and
Music also teaches violence. The Parents Music
Resource Center reports teenagers hear an estimated 10,500 hours of rock
music between grades 7 and 12 alone or nearly as much time as they spend in
school. Entertainment Monitor reported three-fourths of popular CDs sold in
1995 included profanity or lyrics about drugs, violence and sex with some
popular rap artist music glorifying guns, rape and murder.
this backdrop and centuries of belligerency, no wonder domestic violence and
attitudes toward it are out of control. A lone gunman is symptomatic of
ingrained values that proliferate violence daily in US communities and
homes, unnoticed unless someone prominent is affected.
America's history reflects harshness against dissidents, labor, minorities,
street protesters, rioters, ethnic or religious groups, and others, plus
commonplace one-on-one confrontations. The great majority go unnoticed or
cared about when committed by one person of color against another.
For centuries, monstrous violence against Native Americans nearly
exterminated them. Harshness against Black slaves included whippings, other
beatings, rapes, mutilations, forced family separations and even amputations
as punishment for runaways. Post-slavery, Jim Crow and northern
segregation enforced White supremacy on Blacks. Today include Latino
immigrants, Muslims, and others disadvantaged as prime targets for
state-sponsored repression plus whatever they experience in regular
FBI and other Data
In 2009, the FBI
reported 13,636 murders, itemized as follows:
-- 6,452 by handguns
-- 348 with rifles;
-- 418 from shotguns;
-- 1,929 by unknown firearms;
-- 1,825 with knives or similar
-- 1,864 by other weapons; and
-- 801 with
hands, fists or feet, etc.
The Brady Campaign.org campaign against
gun violence gives much higher figures, including 30,000 annual gun related
deaths and 70,000 injuries, including 3,000 children and teens. For Black
men aged 15 - 34, firearm homicide is the leading cause of death. For
Hispanic men aged 15 - 24, it's the second leading cause.
America is the only industrialized country that "has not responsibly
addressed the problem of gun violence," causing, on average, eight times
more fatalities than in other developed nations. For children under age 15,
it's 12 times higher.
America has few federal gun laws, and even
those are pockmarked with loopholes. Among states, Arizona is the most lax,
making gun purchases almost as simple as buying toothpaste. As a result,
anyone can obtain them, even Jared Loughner. Despite his known extremism,
instability, and perhaps derangement, he easily got a Glock 19, a dangerous
semi-automatic handgun bought legally from Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson
on November 30. Using a 30-round magazine with an extra bullet in the gun's
chamber, he fired the entire clip before subdued.
Data from the
Department of Justice and other sources show:
-- 960,000 violent
acts against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, and up to
three million women physically abused by their husband, male partner or
-- in 2001, more than half a million American
women (588,490) victimized by nonfatal violence committed by an intimate
-- intimate violence is mainly a crime against women,
accounting for 85% of these incidences;
-- women are up to eight
times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner;
-- in 2001, 20% of violent crimes against women were by intimate partners;
-- up to 324,000 women experience intimate partner violence during
-- women of all races are about equally vulnerable to
intimate partner violence;
-- women are up to 14 times more likely
than men to report suffering severe physical assaults from an intimate
-- 20% of female high school students report being
physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner, and 40% of 14 - 17
year old girls report knowing someone their age struck or beaten by a
-- in a national survey of 6,000 American families, 50%
of men who frequently assaulted their wives also abused their children;
-- studies show up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic
violence annually; and
-- over half a million women report being
stalked annually by an intimate partner, while 80% stalked by former
husbands are physically assaulted and 30% sexually abused.
divides violent crime into four categories:
-- "murder and
-- forcible rape;
-- aggravated assault."
It uses the International
Association of Chiefs of Police Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program's
definition of violent crime as involving force or threat of force. Annual
data show these crimes:
-- topped one million in 1975, and from the
mid-1980s ranged from around 1.5 - 1.9 million annually;
1975, annual violent crimes of murder and reported rape ranged from around
100,000 - 130,000;
-- every year over the past century, 10% or more
of all crimes committed were violent ones;
-- in 2009, an estimated
1,318,398 violent crimes occurred nationwide, according to the most recent
FBI figures; and
-- the domestic incidence of violent crimes overall
exceeds the combined total of all US foreign wars.
A Final Comment
Generations of violence engrained it in US culture. It proliferates
daily in homes, communities, and by state-sponsored repression against
society's least advantaged, cared about or wanted. It made America the
world's prison capital - a repressive gulag with over 2.4 million
incarcerated, more than China with a population four times greater.
The Institute for Creative Development's director Dr. Charles Johnston, a
psychiatrist and futurist, calls violence a drug. In his Center for Media
Literacy article titled, "Addicted to Violence: Has the American Dream
Become a Nightmare," he said:
"At a psychological level, the drama
and titillation of these violent scenarios and our identification with their
heroes and heroines serve to create a sense of excitement, potency and
significance that is missing from most people's daily lives."
effects are more neurological in nature. "Here, it is less violence per se -
behavior driven by anger or aggression - that hooks us to violent
programming than the generalized rush of adrenalin we feel in response to
violent situations presented to us."
Media violence is powerfully
addictive beyond equivalent substance abuse. It also involves "social
circumstances that support the addictive response." For example, anger and
frustration initially drive riots or street violence. But as it becomes
"more chaotic and random," it's driven less by doubts of achieving the
American dream "than by knowing at some level that even winning would mean
little, that the dream itself had become empty. This ultimate despair
(becomes) a force for destruction."
Further, violence's addicting
power, both real and media driven, "increases exponentially during times of
transition" when something familiar no longer inspires and nothing new
emerges. "At these times, people are particularly" prone to violence to gain
"excitement, engagement, and influence, feelings lacking in their own lives.
And random violence....becomes particularly addictive in a new way" by
giving "voice to the feelings of fear and chaos so central to these
His two-part cure involves basic media literacy to
separate facts from fantasy to counter "people's susceptibility to (be
harmfully) manipulat(ed) by violence's hypnotic effects."
it requires working together to write a new narrative - a "much-needed next
chapter in our cultural history," including new policies and defining
metaphors, as well as "new ways of talking about what (most) matters" at all
levels - at home, in schools, in community meetings, at all government
levels, in business, between family and friends, and through the media.
Ultimately, the ability to reject pseudo-excitement, pseudo-meaning, and
pseudo-fulfillment depends on the extent of positive real life experiences.
They're absent for millions in a society experiencing growing poverty and
despair, exacerbated by its longstanding addiction to violence, proliferated
by America's infatuation with imperial wars, conquest, and repression.
Kicking that habit may be key to rehabilitating domestically.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
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