The recent shooting deaths Wednesday at a Parkland Florida High School point to an even more extensive epidemic of killing children and innocent people. Our glorification of the military and the use of mechanized and industrial violence to solve conflicts is not new. But it has gotten tremendously worse: in fact, since post 9/11 it has become atrocious. Our worship of military weapons, policy, and brutal vengeance of a dehumanized enemy has cultivated Parkland and Las Vegas shootings.
Therefore it should come as no surprise Nikolas Cruz was arrested wearing a crimson JROTC sweatshirt. The military methods cultivated overseas have come back home.
Statements that other countries are primitive and violent and have been fighting since the beginning of time does not describe them. It defines us. There is no other country on the planet with a history of violence like ours: internally and externally.
I wrote in October that a nation unable to create anything meaningful to negate the multiple mass shooting deaths of children is criminal in itself. And based on the past and current behavior of our “misleadership” in Washington we will have another bloodbath on our hands soon.
Since the founding of this country, violence and madness have not ceased. From the genocide of Native Americans, the establishment of capitalism through the terrorism and slavery of Blacks, the murder of labor activists, and peaceful protesters.
Blacks are murdered relentlessly by criminal cops in the street, or they are locked in cages at disproportionate rates for committing non-violent crimes. By the evidence, we may hesitate to say how much better things are because we’ve had a two-term Black president.
Going from a noose and a tree to a cop’s gun, and a plantation to a prison industrial complex system doesn’t qualify as progress.
Whether it is violence or murder in hate crimes directed at Muslims, the killing of abortion providers, or a cattle rancher in Nevada taking up arms against the government, one thing should be clear. Violence is the American way at home and more specifically abroad.
It is self-evident with our history of violence, and a population of 326,766,748 that owns 300 million guns, we have all the evidence of a crisis.
But what gets missed is that all young people have seen around them are adult leaders in their nation continually resorting to force, violence, and murder to coerce or resolve grievances. These acts of state-sanctioned violence have produced a generation born and bred on war. That is what our war propaganda culture has created.
Anyone born in 1990 has grown up in a hyper-militarized country that bombed countries overseas and killed over hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Endless war is all they’ve seen. Bombing wedding parties, hospitals, and schoolchildren creating disease and displacement, as well as establishing a worldwide torture regime.
These are the images children have grown up with and have been normalized: the message is, this is ok. Deadly force and violence are rationalized.
This normalization is the reality we have also given our youth through Hollywood. Zero Dark Thirty with its pro-torture message that torture led to the capture of Osama bin Laden. The racist revenge fest of American Sniper lacks any context other than- the only good Iraqi is a dead Iraqi.
Peter Maas is correct in calling these political films. “The problem is that the film (American Sniper) does not attempt to tell us anything beyond Kyle’s limited comprehension of what was happening. More than a decade after America invaded and occupied Iraq, and long after we realized the war’s false pretense and its horrific toll, we deserve better.”
There is a historical ignorance as well as a lack of nuance in these films questioning our countries motives or the portrayal of Muslims’s as anything but the other. These movies are war propaganda for our youth. In fact, they are used as indoctrination films and recruitment tools for the military to our young.
The disturbing trend of military recruiters on high school campuses is a grave concern. High school students have a one dimensional perspective of a military that is uncontrolled and misdirected. Recruiters prey primarily in Chicago schools with high black and brown populations with little economic opportunity.
The Chicago Chapter of Veterans for Peace is a counter to JROTC and on-campus recruiters. Their program Education Not Militarization is to bring awareness that CPS is one of the most militarized school systems in the country. Their focus is on non-violent conflict resolution and restorative justice. Despite cries that the military model provides an excellent foundation for high school students: the military’s core message and method is violence.
Chris Hedges describes how Dwight Mcdonald’s 1946 essay The Root is Man describes how militarized superpowers cannibalize their youth through propaganda.
Macdonald detailed in his 1946 essay “The Root Is Man” the marriage between capitalism and permanent war. He despaired of an effective resistance until the permanent war economy, and the mentality that went with it, was defeated.
The state, whether in the capitalist United States or the communist Soviet Union, eventually devoured its children. And it did this by using the organs of mass propaganda to keep its populations afraid and in a state of endless war. It did this by insisting that human beings be sacrificed before the sacred idol of the market or the utopian worker’s paradise. The war state provides a constant stream of enemies, whether the German Hun, the Bolshevik, the Nazi, the Soviet agent or the Islamic terrorist. Fear and war, Macdonald understood, was the mechanism that let oligarchs pillage in the name of national security.
There is a strong linkage to a militarized superpower, and it’s violent society. We do not need to point blame towards violent video games or movies as the worst influences on our children. The reality is the violent and deadly methods through force and war provided by their country, and its leaders are all the influence they will ever need. Perhaps a dual focus and concentrated effort to eliminate the militarized weapons and guns on our streets. And the arms and weaponry we bring into other countries.