There Is Violence And There Is Violence

The tendency to identify manhood with a capacity
for physical violence has a long history in America.

– Marshall Fishwick

Violence is as American as cherry pie.
– H. Rap Brown

The President has a hit list of targets he approves and SEAL assassin teams and drones to do the dirty work. Moral concerns have been suspended. These strikes have tallied up, at a bare minimum, 176 dead children, almost nine times the number of dead children in the Newtown incident.

A friend of mine is an Iraq combat veteran and currently works as an armed member of law enforcement. He put it this way: “Around the world and inside the country, we enforce our will at the point of a gun.” He was referring to the fact all our military and police agencies depend on lethal weapons for their authority; intimidation is an important aspect of military/police authority, and civilians are meant to know this. This is why the 2003 bombing attack on Baghdad was called “shock and awe.” Lethal weapons are meant to suggest opposition is futile.

“For the government to, then, turn around and tell you, as a citizen, you can’t have a gun is hypocritical,” my friend said. This, of course, is the original spirit of the Second Amendment and “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” and the notion of a “well regulated militia” that may or may not be linked with the central government.

If the debate over gun control hinges on morality issues, the secrecy and the willful suspension of moral concerns that characterizes the President’s targeted assassination policy is a real problem. Our current wars operate in two very distinct modes. One is secrecy and the control of information and the press. Bradley Manning is the current example of what happens when one violates this mode. The other mode is public relations, that is, all the controlled and re-processed information the military and government intelligence agencies allow to be made public. The most courageous members of our press, media and free-lance operations like Wikileaks operate in the gray zone between these two modes, trying to shine light into the vastness of what is kept secret.

To ask for too much information on who exactly is being targeted and killed by SEAL teams and drones — and why — borders on being subversive, since it necessarily involves humanizing those on the wrong end of our government’s violence. It would involve an awareness of the enemy’s mourning process. Killing in war demands simplification and demonization and the reduction of people to words like “terrorist.” A rigidly enforced program of secrecy assures that the public here at home remains ignorant of anything other than that the killing is necessary and is being done to protect them.

A good, loyal American does not expend grief or outrage for any of the 176-plus beautiful children killed in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia by the President’s drone project — certainly nothing like what we’ve seen expended for the 20 beautiful children killed so viciously at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Actually “seeing” the grief and outrage on the other end of our killing would be a first step to ratcheting back our assassination programs. Thus, Americans are urged to steel themselves from engaging in such weak-sister thinking and to not question Dick Cheney’s call to rely on “the dark side.”

Can a Violent Government Prevent More Adam Lanzas?…


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