Thursday, March 08, 2018

Gun Violence (4) Zeal for War

Something that stands out as different about American culture is the zeal for war. The United States has military personnel stationed and fighting all over the world. American special forces seem to be entitled to go into any country in the world and fight. Judging from the blogosphere, Americans believe that all these military forces are doing good.

The problem is that the evidence for that view is missing. In recent years, American supported or controlled military invasions have wrecked Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, but faith in the ability of military force to solve problems has not been shaken. Even when civilians are killed by American bombs, it just bad luck. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, while the bombers were doing good.

The attitude is very different here. New Zealanders did there fair share during the world wars, and more in Korea and Vietnam. Because of these experiences, very few New Zealanders believe that war is the solution to every problem.

This zeal for war goes right back to the foundation of America. Whereas all other British colonies were able to negotiate independence, Americans fought a war. Whereas most other western countries passed legislation to ban slavery, Americans fought a war. Even Christian Americans till believe the myth that these wars were necessary, despite the terrible loss of life and suffering.

I presume that the American zeal for war as a solution to every problem is one reason why the spirit of violence has made its home in the nation.

Military Cadets
One consequence of this difference is that America still has military training in schools and universities. Thes seems to feed the interest and faith in guns.

When I was in high school, we still had military cadets (a legacy from World War 2) for the first two weeks of the term. Most of us hated it because all we did was march around in the summer sun. The school had a rifle range, but very little ammunition. During the three years, I was at school, I only ever got to fire two 0.22 rounds. The rifle range was a big concrete wall. The main use of it was by students to hide while smoking cigarettes where teachers and prefects could not see them.

Fortunately, military cadets are gone from our schools.

Teaching impressionable young people to fight seems to be very important in American schools. Does this trust in guns feed violence?

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