The Culture Of Violence Part One

My post today centers specifically on American culture and, of course, American society. I am going to talk about the place of violence in American culture and how that is reflected in American society. If you are not living under a rock in this country, I am sure you are aware of all the school shootings that have happened in the last year. I am also sure you are aware of the courageous stand taken by mostly high school students, but some younger students as well, across this country. They have walked out of class in protest of gun violence and the inability, or unwillingness, of our politicians and other social leaders to do anything about the situation. Had a million people showed up in Washington DC for a protest at the Capitol against this violence. At the same time, students and about 2500 schools across the country walked out in support of that demonstration in Washington. I and proud of all of these young people. No, I will not call them children, because, in my eyes, they are acting more like adults than most adults in this country.

The main argument against any form of gun control is that such legislation would violate the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Second Amendment does guarantee American citizens the right to bear arms. I myself have owned guns from time to time, mainly for hunting, but also for protection against snakes and other predators that endangered my animals. You see, I live in a rural area where people are permitted to raise cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, guineas, rabbits, and just about anything else. Of the animals I listed specifically, at one time or another I have raised all of them except one. I have never raise cattle. So, you can see why owning a gun makes some sense for someone like me. I no longer own a gun because the only animals I have now are three dogs and a cat, all of whom take care of each other and us. Two of my dogs are quite large and rather imposing. They are all so very protective.

What most people opposed to gun control seem to miss is the first part of the Second Amendment. It seems, in my humble opinion, that there is a direct link between the first part and the second part. The first part says that in order to protect the people of this country, it is necessary to have a “wel regulated militia.” The second part says that is why American citizens should have the right to bear arms. Back in 1793, the year that the Bill of Rights was passed, the US did not have very much of a standing army. National defense wise, for the most part, in the hands of local militias. Militias are an informal volunteer army, weekend warriors. The USA at that time did not have a chain of armories across the country. People own their own guns and they brought those guns with them when the militia was called up.

Nowadays, we no longer have malicious. The closest thing to a militia these days is the National Guard, modern weekend warriors. Members of the National Guard do not need to bring their own guns. The US government or the state government provides those weapons. There are armories all over this country for use by the National Guard and access to those armories is highly restricted. The most common weapon used by the National Guard is an assault rifle. Beneath rifles are also used by police SWAT teams. Access to police weapons is also extremely restricted. Yet, in this country it is possible for an 18-year-old to walk into a gun store or a large sporting goods supply store that sells guns to and by an assault rifle. There are even gun shows in some parts of this country (like my current home state of Arkansas and neighboring Missouri) where you can buy these kinds of weapons with little or no background check or even gun registration. So where does this fascination with guns come from?

In the 18th and 19th centuries, “pioneer times,” settlers who moved West into “unsettled” regions of the American continent needed to provide meat through hunting and protection from the Native American tribes through the use of guns. Guns in the first two thirds of this time. Whir single shot black powder muzzleloaders. You could fire only one shot at a time, and unless you had military training, it would take you a minute or two to reload. These kind of weapons were also used by the military. The Americans said that kind. Felt that the land occupied by the Native American tribes was not owned by anyone and open for settlement by white Americans without permission from the Native Americans and or compensating them for stealing their land. It doesn’t matter how you slice it. That was what white Americans were doing to the Native Americans and the Native Americans didn’t like it. So they fought back, at first using bows a savages get that Mike would you nd arrows against muzzleloading rifles. In time, many of the Eastern tribes were able to acquire guns, which often got traded into the interior, thus spreading the use of guns to the “infamous” iPlains tribes. These are the tribes most often depicted in American Western movies and television. You know what I mean, “those dirty bloodthirsty savages” who were only trying to protect what was their land.

As more and more settlers moved into the interior and into the West, areas that had little or no law enforcement, it became commonplace for everyone to carry a gun. You never know when the savages would attack. Six- hooters became very popular. These pistols held six bullets, even the black powder type. It was not until the Civil War that we saw the invention of the repeating rifle and bullets as we know them. No more black powder. No more having to reload after every shot. Depending on the magazine size, you could get off as many as six or eight shots before you had to reload. Modern television and movies about this time.tend to romanticize the Western gunslinger, whether he is an outlaw or a long man. When I was growing up back in the late 50s and early 60s, every kid, me included, owned a cap pistol, a replica of the Western six-gun. Some of us even owned a rifle or BB rifles. Like Ralphie from A Christmas Story, I wanted a red Ryder rifle. And yes, mothers did say, “You will shoot out your eye.” I suspect that it is this romantic notion of the Western hero who, being strong and self-reliant, takes matters into his own hand. Nowadays, actions like those of the Western hero would be considered taking the law into your own hands and get you into trouble. Yet many people still seem to do that.

Video/computer games also seem to glorify violence. I do enjoy playing fantasy games on my computer, but I draw the line at games that use guns. I prefer my characters to use things like swords, battle axes, bows, crossbows and magic spells. I don’t know whether the high popularity of “single shooter” electronic games, where your character uses an assault rifle or a rocket launcher encourages young people to act out their games in real life; or whether these games serve as an outlet for whatever violent impulses young people may have. I do think that question needs to be fully examined and researched by competent mental health and behavioral specialists. Until then, you have to make up your own mind on those types of games.

One of the biggest problems related to violence in this country is domestic violence. It is almost impossible to turn on the TV or go to the movies and not see some man slapping around a woman, or increasingly, a woman slapping around a man. In either case, before the end of the show or before the end of the movie, someone pulls a gun and shoots someone. I’m sorry, but I believe there are better ways, morally speaking, to defend yourself than to resort to shooting someone especially if that person is not holding a gun. This is more of the old West mentality that is so glorified in this country.

I am a pacifist and have been for a very long time. The use of military force to solve political differences between countries or even with in a country is the height of idiocy. I believe the only war that this country can justify getting involved in, other than the Civil War, is World War II. I do not want any veteran or present member of the military to take what I am going to say as a personal insult. If you volunteered for the military, I respect that decision. I may not agree with it, but I do respect it. However, there is what appears to be an increasing trend toward taking the glorification of military service to ridiculous levels. It actually scares me. Why is that?

I was born in Germany in 1948. My mother grew up in Nazi Germany. She actually had to join the Hitler Youth. Growing up, she told me stories of what it was like in Germany during the third Reich. That developed a lifelong interest in the history of Nazi Germany for me. I watch as many documentaries about that time, especially those that use actual footage from Nazi Germany. I have read numerous books on the subject. Based on that research, I’m inclined to say that what is going on in this country these days smacks of the militarism of Nazi Germany. That is why I am scared. I do not want to live through what my mother lived through. I don’t think you would want to either. Or am I wrong?

My father-in-law and several of his brothers served in the American military during World War II. They are members of “the greatest generation,” and appellation they well deserve. I have family in Germany who served in the German army during World War II. I have family in Bulgaria who served in the Bulgarian Army during World War II. I probably have distant relatives from Russia who served in the Russian army during World War II (there seems to be a branch of the Botscharow family in Russia). My wife and I both have relatives who served in the Korean War and the Vietnam war. I lost some friends from high school in Vietnam. So, I have a lot of personal reasons for not liking the use of war as a political option.

Like most people my age, growing up I had a sizable number of plastic soldiers, tanks, jeeps and airplanes. I played wargames with those toys. I used to love to watch war movies. Not so much anymore, unless they are about World War II and are historically accurate. There is one movie about the Vietnam war that I consider worth watching, and it is the only one. That movie is Oliver Stone’s Platoon. From the stories told by my friends who served in Vietnam, that movie paints a very realistic picture of what went on.

These days, it seems everyone wants to jump on the “glorified the military” bandwagon. Yet, many of these same people are opposed to the use of tax money to provide healthcare to those veterans who suffered debilitating injuries. It seems that veterans should have to beg help from charities that often are underfunded, understaffed, and, in a few cases, untrustworthy. Our veterans truly deserve better and we the American people should pay for those services. Leaving it up to voluntary contributions to support charities that help veterans is inadequate, mainly because not enough people are willing to walk the walk and not just talk to talk.

Postscript: I wrote this two days ago. Looking at it yesterday while proofreading, I decided it was going to be a much longer “conversation” than I originally thought. So I have decided to publish this part now, and the second part in a day or two.


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