Are We Enablers of Violence?

I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) today as they discussed the Charlottesville protests and Trump’s tweets and statements. One of the guests was from Color of Change (I believe that was the group’s name), and he was asked if the left bore any responsibility for not speaking up against the violence by the left. He just about turned into a pretzel as he hemmed and hawed and danced around the question. Never admitted to any need to speak up. Yet only a few sentences later, he castigated Republicans for their failure to strongly denounce Trump and the white supremacists. My thought? “Wow, what a hypocrite”.

 

It seems as if the mainstream media (with a lot of help from other interested groups) is going great guns after Trump for his denounciation of violence “from all sides”, even though old Donald was exactly right in his initial response. It is absolutely proper to denounce violence from all sides.

 

In the last few years, many conservative commentators have castigated moderate Muslims for not denouncing the violence of radical Muslims. Liberals have castigated conservatives for not denouncing Trump and others. Now, it should be the turn of America to castigate liberals for not denouncing the violence of Antifa and others. Yet, so far, it’s…..crickets…..

 

This tendency to avoid criticizing extremists “on our side” is natural, to some degree, as I’m sure there is a general feeling of “well, yes, our side shouldn’t do that, but those other people against us are so horrible that they do even worse things”. With this kind of thinking, the end result is that violence goes unpunished and allowed, and naturally escalates. By our silence, we promote war amongst ourselves. The winners are the politicians and power brokers that exploit the turmoil for their own benefit. The losers….. are the rest of us, as possible solutions disappear into the fog of war.

 

There are significant problems in the US today regarding race, income inequality, criminal justice, government misdeeds, drug use, to name a few. Shouting at each other and throwing things, physical violence, and harassment only serve to inflame each side, with attention diverted from the problem to the battle. Very little gets done. We need to instead denounce the violence, and focus attention and efforts to focus on what we have in common, what we can agree on, and what we could together develop to address these issues.

IS AMERICA THE NEW FOURTH REICH?

While some may see American troops overseas as “protecting our liberty”, I get the uneasy feeling we are morphing into a hybrid 1984 / Fourth Reich. At home, we have picked scapegoats (Hispanics, Muslims, and Blacks), and are increasing surveillance and repression by the state. Overseas, we are marching into numerous countries and killing more and more people. A survey done a few years ago asked people worldwide who they thought the biggest threat to world peace was. The number 1 answer? The USA.

 

The War on Terror is going on 16 years. During that time we have watched pet videos on Facebook, debated about Caitlyn Jenner, railed about Obamacare and Russian hacking, and welcomed home thousands of dead soldiers and up to a million wounded ones (including brain trauma and PTSD). Of course, we thank those soldiers for their service (insert sarcasm here). Civilian deaths in the Middle East run as high as 500,000 or possibly more. We have performed large scale invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and small scale incursions in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Our support (both financial and weapons) of various groups and various governments, as well as our own actions, have destroyed families, homes, towns, cities, and countries. We have brought pain and suffering, hunger and starvations, and disease. We have become a 1939 Germany Lite, in a way.

 

 Just as there were a lot of good Germans back then, there are a lot of good Americans now. We believe what we see on the news and what the government says, and we don’t go out of our way to seek alternate news sources. The Hispanics and Blacks at home, and the Muslims overseas…….well, they probably had it coming, whether it be abuse or death. After all, they are all a potential threat to our country.

 

The Lutheran pastor Martin Neimoller recited a famous poem back in the 30’s:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

The American people seem like they’re still in the early stages of speaking out. I feel like there’s an existing Warrior Culture promoted by the government and media. We glorify soldiers protecting us overseas, police protecting us here, and government protecting us everywhere. We don’t question why we would need protection and whether there are other ways to minimize threats. Nor do we spend much time examining whether our deeds are responsible for some of the problems. In the Gods of War we trust.

 Although this post is probably going to be read by a few people, I want to clarify my sarcastic “thank you for your service” comment.  I understand the sacrifice soldiers make, and I understand the desire to thank them for that.  What gets me a bit irritated is that this “thank you” by people and the government, indicates a concern for the soldier.  If that was the case, the government would take a whole lot more care in trying every available alternate path, before sending them out to do battle.  It would not use the military for regime change or political gain in other countries.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and has not been the case in previous wars.  Too many leaders see soldiers as cannon fodder to be used to achieve their goals, with not enough appreciation of the impact those deaths and injuries have on the families and communities across the nation.