Saturday, September 04, 2004

Trading Off.

A couple of nights ago, I heard a girl say on a late night radio program, "What's the big deal about America anyway?" I was a bit amused at the time, but filed away her comment for use later. This country has a long-standing love affair with all things American, and to hear someone publicly grouse about it on radio was fairly novel.

This afternoon, I watched Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine at Djong's place.

What is the big deal?

Some interesting things I found out:

1. In the UK, France, and Germany (countries with a much-noted history of violence) they have gun murder/violence statistics that number in the low hundreds (this was in 2001). In Canada the number doesn't even reach a hundred. At the same time, America had more than 11,000 cases of gun murder/violence.

2. In one Canadian suburb, people don't lock their doors.

3. Charleston Heston is a rabid gun advocate.

4. Kmart sold ammunition for handguns and rifles in their stores.

5. Marilyn Manson gave more concrete answers to the question of violence than either Dick Clark or Charleston Heston combined.

What I think is the fundamental difference between the low (and I do mean low) percentages of people killed by guns in countries such as France, Canada, Germany, and the UK is how their governments act. In other words, how their leaders lead their country.

For the last century, America has been involved in one war or another around the world. Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam, Korea, World War II. From the small and insignificant to the big and important, America's presence has been felt. Even when they were clearly not wanted in the first place. They bomb and destroy and in the same breath say that they have liberated these peoples of the world. The self-proclaimed “Policemen of the World” have proven very unpopular during the last twenty years. And through this, they become the target of hatred. A target which manifested itself on September 11, 2001.

The culture of fear in America has become steadily pervasive over the past years. People are starting to arm themselves in the name of protecting their family and their loved ones. They put the blame on society, on uncaring parents, on violence in movies and video games, on entertainment - everyone except themselves. They take their cue from US government, which refuses to own up to their mistakes and prefers to look at the world with rose-colored glasses.

So where is the tradeoff? The tradeoff here comes at the expense of the American people. When their governments wage war, it's not the government disgruntled natives attack. It's the ordinary citizens, their families, their lives, those who arm themselves in fear (and hatred) of not just outsiders/foreigners, but even their own countrymen.

And sometimes, in the case of the Columbine High School killings, the price is too painful to bear.