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Violence in America Essay

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Violence in America

Beginning with the urban drug wars and the Rodney King riot all the way up the spectacular lynchings in Texas and Wyoming, and now the mass murder/terrorist strike by teenagers in their own high school, the 90s is a decade made numb by civil disorder.

In between came the incidents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, involving dubious law enforcement assaults on separatists, which led to the terrorist bombing at Oklahoma City — the single worst terrorist act in American history. Since then, law enforcement agencies have thwarted twenty-four major domestic terrorist attacks.  Shootings and bombings at abortion clinics, the slaying of abortion providers by right-wing fanatics and racial disturbances, some of which involved flagrant police brutality, added to the mix. Meanwhile, mass murders and serial killings grew to such a degree they became a part of popular culture, inspiring everything from an Oscar–winning motion picture to trading cards.

Violence is our mother's milk. It has given us an incredible breadth of freedom and personal liberty. But it is also our demon rum that threatens the fabric of that freedom and liberty.

The epidemic of teenage killings in our cities, black church burnings and abortion clininc violence, Neo-nazi skinheads and white Separatists, home-grown terrorism, and the rise of hate crimes have brought face-to-face with an aspect of our culture most generations have found too unpleasant to contemplate. Not until children began dying in the streets in unprecedented numbers and disgruntled white males begin forming paramilitary organizations did a general concern about violence begin to re-appear.

When you consider our high crime rates in conjunction with events such as Oklahoma City, Ruby Ridge, Idaho, the shoot-out in Waco, Texas, the Rodney King beating and riot, the Crown Heights, NY, riot and the lynchings in Bensonhurst and Howard Beach, NY, in 1986 and 89, it's difficult to disagree with the Indianapolis prosecutor who concluded, "Violence is becoming a way of life."

Still, kids-as-shooters brings a re-newed strain of violence to the tumultuous American landscape.

Prior to the three-year blood-spree of school shootings, enough corpses were already littering the inner city landscape to convince us that we had waded knee-deep into a crisis of violence. In spite of declining crime r...


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...violent history of any western nation. We've always been that way, and we show no signs of changing. What has been changing is the nature of the violence, and who's doing it. The fact that young, alienated blacks and young to middle-aged white men commit a sizable chunk of it (and in doing so continue the historical thread of violent solutions) is an inevitable result of our history. Our tradition of rugged individualism, the cult of honor, especially but not exclusively in the South, the untamed frontier, and race and ethnicity are its central features.

Violence has become part of our character, threatening at time to subvert it. The reasons for the militia movements, the vehement insistence upon the right to own guns — and those chalky outlines — lie squarely in a past that has turned violent self-assertion into a determinant of social status and aggression into a sign of character. Not all Americans are violent, of course. In fact, most aren't violent at all. And not all violent individuals or groups act that way all the time. But enough people have spilled other peoples' blood enough of the time and in enough regions to create a national heritage of continual bloodshed.
 


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