Institutional Factors in US Violence

The pervasive violence in American society is driven by many factors, including easy access to firearms and Hollywood’s glorification of killing, but there are also institutional factors, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

By Lawrence Davidson

There is a lot of violence in the United States, and if you look at the news it appears that things are getting worse. The nation is armed to the teeth, which means that any out-of-control angry person can vent in lethal fashion. Or, maybe they can choose to vent in the European style by using their car as a battering ram.

U.S. Army recruits undergoing basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia., May 4, 2012. (DoD Photo by Glenn Fawcett)(Released)

There is much head shaking about this nationwide violence and much wondering about its sources. The usual explanation assigns blame to the “bad apples.” That is, all these people acting out violently are somehow unstable. The fault lies with the individual, and this can be seen in their inability to contain their rage. If there is a broader influence it has to be some foreign agency (this used to be Communism but now is said to be Islam) urging them on through a subtle process of radicalization. This is thought to be one way good apples go bad.

But why limit blame to unstable personalities or shadowy alien forces? Our homebred culture acts as the context for a citizen’s behavior, suggesting to them what is allowable and what is not. In the U.S., with its almost nonexistent gun laws, its fundamentalist religious ideas, its rampant Islamophobia, its prevailing white-backlash politics, and its media entertainment industry heavily reliant on virtual violence, there is apparently some confusion as to what is and isn’t permissible.

Under these circumstances it is quite possible that at least some manifestations of our own culture have the potential of serving as contaminating agents for otherwise upright citizens. Contamination here means turning those citizens into violent agents – little ticking time bombs.

Cultural Corruption

What aspects of U.S. culture could serve this corrupting function? Well there are those mentioned above plus the superheated patriotic environments of thousands of VFW lodges, defensive attitudes and behavior of police fraternal leagues, the motorcycle clubs where flying three-foot-long American flags from your fender is de rigueur, and last but not least the environment of your typical Trump rally.

A sign supporting Donald Trump at a rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016 (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

However, these cultural centers of resentment and anger are only occasional producers of public violence. There are other very common culturally contaminating sources that actually supply consistent venues for bringing out the worst in many of us.

These are institutions that are hardly noticed by the public and yet are turning thousands of American citizens (mostly young men) into battered, harassed, and humiliated individuals, some of whom will then turn into batterers, harassers and humiliators themselves. Some of them will make this corrupting experience the basis for lifelong friendships. Some will see these activities as integral to their “glory days.”

Here are two examples, and ironically, both are part of institutions that purport to be a source of the nation’s highest values – educational institutions and military institutions

The Campus-Based Fraternity

In the region of the United States where I live, one of the largest universities is called Penn State. “Penn” stands for Pennsylvania, and it is among this state’s oldest and most respected institutions. Like many other universities and colleges, though, Penn State is a home to a large number of fraternities. Fraternities are largely self-governing male clubs or associations that are supposed to provide camaraderie for their members. Originally, they were seen as organizations that “ennobled” their members and aided in their education.

Today, most fraternities are boys clubs that all too often operate as if the fraternal group is bound only by its own traditions rather than societal norms. Among those traditions are regularly drinking oneself into a stupor and emotionally and sometimes physically “hazing” those “pledging” the fraternity.

Pledging means going through the process prescribed for membership. At the core of this process is the systematic demeaning or embarrassing of the pledges for set period of time. The rationale behind this behavior is that “hazing” transforms the “pledge class” into a unified “band of brothers.” Overall the process weakens individuality and independent judgment.

Most members of fraternities range from 17 to 21 years of age. At this point I would remind the reader that the frontal cortex, that part of the brain that provides “executive function” or control for behavior, does not fully mature until one’s mid-twenties.

What are you likely to get when you put together an immature constituency and the sort of organizational traditions described above? Well, on Feb. 4 at the Penn State fraternity Beta Theta Pi, you got the wrongful death of a 19-year-old pledge.

Many men whose own youth have been tied to fraternities dismiss such an event as too rare to be significant. But is that so? Between the year 2000 and December 2014 there were 57 deaths due to hazing at U.S. colleges. This activity is prevalent enough, and dangerous enough, that presently 44 states have enacted some form of anti-hazing statutes.

Under the circumstances, Jason Brennan, professor of ethics and public policy at Georgetown University, is right when he observes that “as a matter of fact fraternities don’t educate and ennoble; they stultify and corrupt.” How so? They allow you to see cruelty as an important and functional part of a “normal” social process. They allow you the opportunity to decide if you like being cruel or not.

The Military’s “Basic Training”

In what other major organization do you find hazing? The answer is in the U.S. military. It is used during basic training. According to a study appearing in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics appearing March 2014, “there is a long history of sanctioned abuse of new recruits by their drill instructors during entry training.” Such behavior is particularly characteristic of the Army and the Marines. Officially, the military now regards this form of hazing as “cruel and unnecessary” and “inconsistent with its core institutional values.” However, this is probably more recruiting propaganda rather than a statement of real change.

U.S. Army forces operating in southern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Apr. 2, 2003 (U.S. Navy photo)

According to the military-associated website Task and Purpose, recruits are still subject to periodic “shark attacks,” which means being “harassed and harangued” and having instilled in them “the fear factor.” These are still the means by which “the whole discipline process” is created.

Traditionally, the military sees hazing as serving three purposes: (1) it weeds out those “unfit or unwilling to serve”; (2) it allegedly destroys the civilian “principles and norms” of the new recruits so that they can be replaced by those of the military organization; and (3) it allegedly builds “cohesion” among the recruits. Numbers 1 and 3 also apply to the hazing process of fraternities.

Hazing and Cultural Deterioration

The rationale behind hazing is to destroy pre-existing “values and habits” through a process of abuse so that they can be replaced by new “values and habits.” For fraternities the new value structure is relatively benign, going little beyond a sense of “brotherhood” and “old boy’” camaraderie that is supposed to last well beyond one’s college years. It is an elitist message but not one that risks widespread cultural deterioration.

For the military the goal is not benign at all. It is no less than the destruction of the recruit’s individuality and habit of independent thinking. The desired restructured individual is one that takes orders unquestioningly and functions as part of a cadre rather than an individual. This is an undeniably anti-democratic process, the effectiveness of which contributes to the difficulty of many veterans to reintegrate back into civilian life. At the same time, “boot camp” seeks to raise the violence potential of the recruit.

We cannot overemphasize the fact that in both cases the institutionalized methodology for the development of an alleged new outlook among millions of citizens is harassment and abuse. No society that allows such processes to go on in some of its most important culture-shaping institutions can hope to remain mentally healthy.

In today’s America, there seems to be a deep-seated restlessness. With a nearly open access to all manner of weapons and a history of racial discrimination, labor exploitation, and external aggression, what passes for cultural normality is continuously punctuated by episodes of violence. When considering this, one must face up to the fact that it is to violence that millions of citizens are being acculturated in both college fraternities and military training. These experiences must be judged as contributing factors to a process of cultural deterioration.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. He blogs at www.tothepointanalyses.com.

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52 comments for “Institutional Factors in US Violence

  1. delia ruhe
    June 24, 2017 at 17:42

    It makes me super uncomfortable when American analysts insist that “Hollywood’s glorification of violence” is among the major factors in a violent society, since Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand watch just as much, often more Hollywood violence than Americans do and don’t have anywhere near the levels of violence experienced in the US.

    The mindless heroizing of the American military — a non-stop phenomenon in this era of perpetual war — together with the prioritizing of military funding over social and infrastructure spending and, of course, the absolute lack of any sensible control over access to weapons, especially the military variety has to be the single most important reason for the high levels of violence in American society. Try comparing those levels with those in Japan — among the very lowest in the industrialized world. And no one would call Japan’s popular visual culture less violent than Hollywood’s, as even the most casual fans of anime and manga will attests. But you’d better hurry up and do that comparison soon.

    Japan’s pacifism has been constitutionally guaranteed — that is, until last year, when the country caved into Washington’s insistence that it rearm, even if it takes a constitutional amendment. After all, the intention of the Pacific Pivot (read military “containment” of China) will eventually deliver war, and Washington will demand all its Pacific Rim vassal states to be armed and ready. Then you’ll start to see those “mysterious” violence stats in Japan grow a lot less mysterious.

    A perpetually violent state makes a perpetually violent nation. Get used to it.

  2. Martin - Swedish citizen
    June 24, 2017 at 05:18

    Very important article. As pointed out in the comments, all causes are not covered, but then such a scope may not have been the intention.
    I can contribute that it is an established fact that media violence causes increased rates of real life violence.
    Culture is a major factor. Whereas in the US an act of violence is probably almost exclusively attributed to the perpetrator, in Eastern cultures the cause is said to be mainly searched for in the environment of the perpetrator; that approach is more fruitful.
    I and many foreigners find it revolting, sick, to know that visiting a mall in the US, a big share of fellow visitors carry guns! Personally, I suspect that one reason is a very low level of societal trust and solidarity, a high level of fear, compared to most European nations, where there is more of trust in and obligation to your fellow man. It seems to me that US youth and society would benefit tremendously from going abroad to study in non-Anglosaxon countries.

    The murder rate in Russia used to be quite high, not sure of present status. A big factor is undoubtedly alcoholism, and reasons behind alcoholism.

  3. NNNT
    June 24, 2017 at 00:46

    While the author may be right on most issues, there is at least one specific part that I would like to criticize:

    “Most members of fraternities range from 17 to 21 years of age. At this point I would remind the reader that the frontal cortex, that part of the brain that provides ‘executive function’ or control for behavior, does not fully mature until one’s mid-twenties.”

    This is a very doubtful assertion that has been questioned for a long time, e.g. by researchers like Mike Males and David Moshman, Howard Sercombe and others. For example:

    http://www.cjcj.org/news/11227

  4. rosemerry
    June 23, 2017 at 17:21

    Perhaps it is not a big issue, but an online video about “How my dad was brainwashed” gave a frightening glimpse of what radio “shock jocks” can do to ordinary older citizens, often men listening alone to these providers of “facts” as the commuters drive long distances to their often lowpaid, boring jobs. Someone must be blamed for their plights, and the radio hosts have the perfect answers to blame.

    • Skip Scott
      June 24, 2017 at 08:06

      These shock jocks would not stand a chance in open debate, that is why they pre-screen their callers and cut off anyone who slips through the filters. As George Carlin famously ranted, the last thing they want of the general population is critical thinkers. I think a course in logic should be mandatory in all of our public schools, just like the three R’s. The vast majority of the commenters here on CN are critical thinkers, and that’s why the trolls have such a hard time here.

  5. turk151
    June 23, 2017 at 12:42

    We are violent because we dehumanizes other races.

    Russians are just a great big race whose sole purpose is to kill us, because every Russian is Putin’s evil drone. It is a psychological trick that we see opposition as this blob of an enemy; our aristocracy is constantly exploits this basic human weakness.

    Americans are also least likely to feel like they have anything to learn from other cultures.

    But, I am not suggesting that it is uniquely an American problem by any means. It can be worse in other countries, they just dont have the technology and wealth to inflict their violence on others in such an efficient manner..

  6. Jeff Sessions
    June 23, 2017 at 11:35

    More restrictions on law abiding citizens while ignoring the corrupt two party media military industrial complex

    go here and find a real root cause

    https://ssristories.org/

    Stop the police state while ignoring Big Pharam and ‘Govments role in the violence. And the illegal drug war too!

  7. June 23, 2017 at 10:09

    Sean Ahern, your comment is very interesting. Thank you.

  8. June 23, 2017 at 10:03

    I do believe that our modern alienation from nature and total embrace of technology as the most important way of life, is responsible for reprogramming the human brain. One example, notice the contrast in effect between walking down a city street where the trees have been cut down versus walking on a street where there are lots of beautiful trees. Or looking at a junkyard versus viewing a river?

  9. Sean Ahern
    June 23, 2017 at 07:43

    I think that the culture of violence described by Professor Davidson may be traced to the merger of white and male supremacism that is a specific feature of US society well documented by Theodore W. Allen in Volume II of The Invention of the White Race (Verso).
    This merger was instituted by the Planter Aristocracy in the Chesapeake Bay colonies in the latter part of the 17th century as a form of social control over the chattel bond laborers, European and African.
    Before the European-American laborers became “white,” they loved, rebelled, resisted and escaped from bondage together with their African-American brethren. The “white” racial identity was invented to break this solidarity. It was instituted by terror and the legalization of the rape of African-American women and of course the mistaken belief, still parroted today, that the “white” racial privilege system is a “benefit” enjoyed by the European American laborer rather than the disabling curse and “the incubus that for three centuries has paralyzed their will in defense of their class interests vis-a-vis those of the ruling class.” (Allen, p 259 V II)

  10. john wilson
    June 23, 2017 at 04:51

    There are no really peace loving nations, races, cultures, tribes etc on the planet and it has ever been thus. Some nations are more cruel to their fellow man than others and the USA is probably one of the very worst offenders. Almost every other member of the animal kingdom which are carnivores only kill for food. Man is unique in that he kills and tortures his own kind for pure pleasure.

  11. June 23, 2017 at 03:26

    What! “the environment of your typical Trump rally”? Lawrence, you stretch things a little far. How about including the psychoactive and addictive drugs that American doctors prescribe….or all the hatchet murder movies that children begin watching at 5 years old….or all the Rambo and Alien movies and Transformer and Superhero movies….or the imprisonment of our youth by a corrupt judges and private prisons that ruin thousands of lives? How about talking about violence-for-pay, George Soros style. Instead you talk about fraternities and
    You’re article is on the right track……it just doesn’t have any of the right reasons. Call me first, next time.

  12. June 22, 2017 at 23:23

    His bro-in-law who works the troll booth waved him through : )

  13. Gary Teekay
    June 22, 2017 at 21:25

    These comments seem to me to be exceptionally intelligent for on-line comments. Except—who let SteveM in?

  14. Jay
    June 22, 2017 at 21:17

    Well actually: England has a more violent culture, serious injury in bar fights, or soccer game riots, is much more frequent in England than in the USA. This violence also usually involves alienated white males under 30.

    What England doesn’t have is many guns. And the police are mostly unarmed so things like the killing of Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri don’t happen often. (Though there was the Brazilian electrician hunted, and shot dead, on a commuter train by armed police back about 12 years. Not one of the cops was convicted of a crime. Nor of course was there any evidence against the victim.)

    Just saying in fact, violence is a big problem in another advanced country. Then there’s the violence in largely immigrant suburbs north of Paris. Those places, again without guns, make a housing project in the southern Bronx in 1983 look bucolic.

  15. stephen l kelley
    June 22, 2017 at 19:18

    i might add that hollywood also contributes to the pervasiveness of violence in society. violence is so prevalent in today’s movies that i do not even bother going to the cinema anymore. movies are all full of guns blazing and special effects(meant to compensate for the lack of any meaningful dialogue). i keep meaning to ask my doctor if any of his educated and professional peers go to see movies anymore. i am just astounded that this tripe is allowed to exist.

  16. cmack
    June 22, 2017 at 17:51

    weird article…..

    sort of lost me at the beginning about armed to the teeth….

    more people are murdered with objects other than guns…..

    also, after the bolshevics took power in russia, all firearms were confiscated. with a population similar to the united states and with a somewhat similar diversity there were years where the murder rate was higher than the united states without the use of guns.

    in other words, they have a violent society also. weapons are not the cause. something else is going on.

    frat boys? yeah, i don’t think so.

    • backwardsevolution
      June 22, 2017 at 18:10

      cmack – “Something else is going on.” Yes, I think you are right. Guns, hazing, basic training, violence on the streets, drug epidemic, gangs, wars are all effects. What is the cause? Family breakdown? Parents caught on the capitalism treadmill, trying to provide and keep their heads above water, no time for their children, nobody knowing their neighbors, nobody talking, no sense of community, no Rule of Law, everybody lost. People do not feel in control.

      The people have lost control of their own government.

      I think the professor needs to go deeper.

  17. Realist
    June 22, 2017 at 17:47

    I can see violence being allowed to persist at some low grade level in society to keep us all scared and more easily controlled. Moreover, any country’s secret police needs a field of suitable candidates from whom to recruit its thugs. Beyond all that, don’t human beings spontaneously organise into factions, many of which espouse and use violence to achieve their ends? I’m thinking not of fraternities but the many street gangs who rule America’s inner cities now. We see the effect time and again when lack of a functioning government leaves a power vacuum filled by men with guns which some call terrorists and others call salvation. Why can’t the effect be titered up or done by a functioning government within its own jurisdiction to achieve its own unstated ends? Fascist leadership can’t ostentatiously suppress something it doesn’t allow to happen in the first place.

  18. June 22, 2017 at 17:43

    Day in, day out, the images are violent, the stories are violent. FEAR, FEAR, FEAR. WAR, WAR, WAR. The human mind is very subject to conditioning; it takes insight to turn inward and examine one’s own behavior. TV is the perfect conditioning tool. The USA is, to quote Dr. King, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. The rotting fish head analogy I like very much, AirmanSparky.

  19. Karen
    June 22, 2017 at 16:06

    If Professor Davidson’s intention is to explain why there is MORE violence in America than in other countries, wouldn’t it be helpful to discuss the extent and influence of hazing in the comparison countries as well?

  20. turk151
    June 22, 2017 at 14:17

    You left out the most important institutional, no cultural institution supports and creates a militaristic, violent culture more than the football.

    The ongoing conflict between Russia and the US is nothing more than a football game to many, in which two sides are trying to win. Our team, the US, vs, their team Russia.

    It also serves as the conditioning mechanism in high school and distracts and destroys our young minds so they have no other opportunities than join the military. Studies have shown that the academic achievement rises significantly and truancy decreases in schools that eliminate football, Don’t think, book smarts it for nerds, play ball and win the game.

    Hazing and fraternities create an elite, selective culture, but they have far less influence on developing and shaping and promoting violent behavior than football.

    • mike k
      June 22, 2017 at 15:05

      When I attended the University of Chicago in the 1940’s Robert Hutchins was Chancellor, and he eliminated football from the U. The U of Chicago then became the number one University for academic excellence, regularly defeating Harvard, Stanford etc, in academic competitions. Prior to Hutchins the U of C team had been number one in the big ten, Red Grange, Amos Alonzo Stagg and all that.

      • mike k
        June 22, 2017 at 15:08

        The transformation of UC was complete when the first atomic pile was created under the west stands of Stagg Field, empty now of it’s weekend football warriors. Ironically, a far more lethal possibility of violence was being brewed in that space by Fermi and others.

    • Skip Scott
      June 22, 2017 at 15:38

      It is interesting that the word “haze” also means mental obscurity and confusion. So “hazing” is an activity that produces that state of mind. How useful if one is to become a soldier.

      I wrote similarly on the game of football for one of Robert Parry’s articles about Tom Brady of the Patriots. The vitriol I got in reply was quite astounding. Any parent that allows their child to compete in a sport that has repeatedly been proven to cause brain damage (CTE) is remiss in their duty as a parent. You can build character and still care for your child’s physical brain development. The argument that other sports have brain injuries isn’t really valid in my mind. Those sports have occasional “accidents” that may cause a brain injury, but with football (and boxing) it is inherent to the sport itself. The amount of injury is just a matter of degree, and the longer you play it the worse it gets.

  21. June 22, 2017 at 14:05

    A fish rots from the head. Is it possible that the behavior of the leadership of our exceptional(ly
    violent) nation has a corrosive effect on its citizens? Perhaps the morally depraved, sociopathic choice of violence as the instrument-of-choice of our foreign policy (disregarding international law and norms, invading, bombing, occupying/destroying foreign states at will, slaughtering untold thousands of innocent civilians, abducting, torturing and killing humans in secret or holding them in cages indefinitely, using flying death robots to kill the poorest people on the planet then double-tapping their 1st responders – formerly the hallmark of a “terrorist”) serves as as a template for the pervasive normalization of violence in the “Homeland”.
    Sorry about the run-on parantheses…I got ahead of myself.

  22. Charles Watkins
    June 22, 2017 at 13:34

    Hazing is also practiced in sports at all levels.

  23. IvyMike
    June 22, 2017 at 13:31

    Seems a bit moronic to make a point out of saying the military makes people violent. I’ve no use for frats and as a pacifist detest our militarism. Why isn’t anybody concerned with the dominant position in our culture enjoyed by 1st person shooter video games? What a sick way for our population to spend it’s time. We’re the most violent culture in all of history.

  24. mike k
    June 22, 2017 at 13:30

    We are here to learn to love each other and all life. If we fail to do this, then the powers that our intelligence has put in our hands will be used against each other, and we will be destroyed. The lack of attention to Love as the solution to many of our problems is a symptom of our dangerous slide into materialism, alienation, and madness. The contempt of the growing fascism in our world for all that is soft, and sweet, and feminine is another symptom of our fatal illness. A world without Love will turn out to be a toxic and lethal desert.

  25. mike k
    June 22, 2017 at 13:18

    A lot more could be said about the origins of violence in our culture. For starters let’s look at capitalism, or the struggle of each against all. The unequal access to the good things of life builds resentment. Competitive, often violent sports augment this hostile attitude to others. The societal model of the ideal macho male includes the ability to be strong and able to fight and dominate others. Our whole society and training looks down on pacifism as weak and cowardly. Our culture accepts and even encourages bullying, as in our foreign policy, or racism. The roots of violence are so numerous and pervasive in our world, that the miracle is that we haven’t succeeded in destroying ourselves already. That may not be true for much longer however.

    • Dr. Ando Arike
      June 22, 2017 at 19:37

      The U.S. is a nation that originated in conquest, genocide, and slavery — and then quickly built a global empire and garrisoned it with the best equipped industrial killing machine on the planet. Violence ‘R Us. And if you don’t like it, we’ll f*cking kill you! Our history has produced a settler/colonialist culture, permeated with apocalyptic Christianity and inbred racism, fueled by a fascination with high-tech weaponry and macho/fascist sexual sadism — all of this insistently stimulated by Hollywood’s propaganda of cruelty and American exceptionalism… USA! USA! Perhaps Hillary Clinton said it best: “We came, we saw, he died!”

      • Fitzhenrymac
        June 29, 2017 at 07:29

        Add a fascination with murder and death inculcated by TV series such as NCIS. Why on earth does anybody need 5 different versions of NCIS.

        Americans are surrounded by so many flickering images of gross deaths, we have to ask, is this deliberate?

  26. Tom Welsh
    June 22, 2017 at 12:48

    The comparison between fraternities and basic training is intriguing. Is it pure coincidence that the words “pledge” and “plebe” are so similar? They seem to have very similar connotations, too.

  27. turk151
    June 22, 2017 at 12:48

    I think pushing baby strollers creates a culture of violence in men, as there are many baby stroller pushing men, who swear by Queen Killary to this day and completely ignore her genocidal behavior in Libya and Syria.

  28. Tom Welsh
    June 22, 2017 at 12:42

    “In the U.S., with its almost nonexistent gun laws, its fundamentalist religious ideas, its rampant Islamophobia, its prevailing white-backlash politics, and its media entertainment industry heavily reliant on virtual violence, there is apparently some confusion as to what is and isn’t permissible”.

    Very true. Also, perhaps, there may be increasing confusion about the very idea of “permissibility” itself. One would have to search long and hard through history and geography to find a culture that did more to glorify individualism and “the inner voice”. Only Americans, it seems to me, would use the phrase “moral compass” so much. The idea seems to be that every individual is police officer, judge, jury and executioner in her own court.

    While that take on life is actually very different from the reality of American existence, it has a powerful grip on the young, angry, deluded and impressionable – of whom there are more every day.

    • Karen
      June 22, 2017 at 15:29

      I agree that the long tradition of American individualism, supercharged by the information free-for-all that is the internet, is making it easier for angry young men to feel violence is justified.

      Individualism is at its best when it produces whistleblowers like Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning and Edward Snowden. But it definitely has its downside as well.

      • Fitzhenrymac
        June 28, 2017 at 23:46

        I know that Americans talk about individualism however I rarely see it. Rather I see Indoctrination from childhood into enormous tribal groups: patriots, fundamentalist Christians, conservatives, the 1% rich and powerful, Libertarians, gun lovers, the military and Trump supporters to name just a few.

        I rarely see

    • JFK
      June 23, 2017 at 12:30

      Crime rate accordinh to fbi.gov has decreased with the increase in guns. Gangs in gun controlled Chicago still keep their guns (who knew?). Google MS-13 Crips and Bloods in Chicago. Real problems for law abiders.

      300 murders in Chi-town already this year. Gun control only takes guns from law abiding citizens. Maybe eliminate open borders, poverty, and trade deals moving millions of jobs to other slave countries like China, and Mexico? Two other non democracies with deathly low wages and low standard of living (along with a dictatorship). Americans dont want or need that from their governments.

      Taking the 2nd amendment away for Americans to defend themselves is not the answer.r. But the author likely lives in a gated community. And the totalitarian views he holds can be afforded.

      • rosemerry
        June 23, 2017 at 17:33

        Most people in the USA appear to have no idea what a civilised society is. Other “democracies” do not have ordinary people killing each other as a daily event-even toddlers kill parents and others -is this defending oneself? Thousands of people killed by police each year; so many, especially young Black men stopped while walking or driving, treated with a complete lack of respect or rights for having a broken taillight or other pretext, then searched to find drugs. More people incarcerated than any other nation.
        btw, if you believe the FBI, CIA etc, no wonder you live in fear.

  29. SteveM
    June 22, 2017 at 12:33

    The inchoate splenetic nature of this rant is unsurprising given that it emanates from the bowels of the neo-Stalinist academic-ideological ghetto.

    There are some truths buried under this mass of rank generalizations, but they are not worth parsing out in the context of this miserable essay.

    • Tom Welsh
      June 22, 2017 at 12:47

      I cannot recognise the article I have just read with some appreciation in your inchoate splenetic rant. Lawrence Davidson is usually very good value – especially when we get to read his work free of charge. I find this piece clear, well-argued, structured and factually based.

    • Skip Scott
      June 22, 2017 at 13:11

      Boy SteveM, you use awful big words. You must be a really smart guy!

    • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
      June 22, 2017 at 13:57

      SteveM, are you sure you are commenting on the right article?! Have you really read this article?! What exactly do you disagree with?! You cannot see that the US militarism is a cause of spreading violence within the American Society itself?! Do you have a semi-intelligent argument to make?!

      • SteveM
        June 22, 2017 at 15:33

        Of course I see the perverse U.S. militarism, but Davidson ascribes it to “fundamentalist religious ideas” and people who attend Trump events.

        When it was a nutzo Bernie Sanders supporter who shot up that congressional baseball practice. And it’s the SJW nitwits that Davidson cavorts with that are doing the beat downs and riots on college campuses against people who don’t surrender to their ideology.

        The U.S. is indeed messed up. The cult of Military Exceptionalism has turned pathological. Only academic gas-bags like Davidson have no credibility in criticizing it because they don’t see the splinters in their own sanctimonious eyes.

        • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
          June 22, 2017 at 16:38

          I am glad that you see that America is “messed up” and American Militarism is part of that. Putting your very clear dislike of the writer aside, what other factors you see causing America to be messed up and what do you suggest be done in order to help America?! I appreciate your being willing to engage in a rational dialogue!

        • backwardsevolution
          June 22, 2017 at 17:53

          SteveM – totally agree with you.

        • Skip Scott
          June 23, 2017 at 08:44

          Nuts come in all stripes, even Bernie Sanders fans. Fundamentalist religious ideas is certainly a valid ascription, as anyone who even looks at a little history can see. And there definitely were some “white trash” elements at Trump rallies that were prone to violence. It’s ironic how you can go from using obscure words like “inchoate splenetic”, which was an obvious attempt to appear intellectual, to calling Davidson an “academic gas-bag”. His arguments are logically constructed and valid, yours are mere rants.

      • JFK
        June 23, 2017 at 12:25

        Causes

        Drug War
        Gangs
        Poverty
        Anti Depressants

        Start here, but then you would have to point to Banksters, Pharma, Democrats, Republicans and the Pharma paying controlled media, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Nytimes, and Wash Po.

      • Peter Loeb
        June 24, 2017 at 07:12

        VIOLENCE IN OUR HISTORY AND IN ALL OF US…

        Professor Davidson’s analysis conveniently excludes my own
        life experience. My college had no fraternities. I never served
        in the military. I doubt I am really a guaranteed “good apple”.

        I was surprised that professor Davidson neglected the
        basic history of North America as a quintessential basis.
        These factors are brilliantly analyzed in Francis Jennings’
        book THE INVASION OF AMERICA , particularly Part I,

        Fast forward to more contemporary responses is Professor
        Alfred W. McCoy’s regarding torture in his book
        A QUESTION OF TORTURE , pp. 12-14, excerpted
        here:

        “Among the practices of the modern state, torture is the
        least understood, one that lures its practitioners, high and
        low, with fantasies of power and dominion…

        …. torture plumbs the recesses of human consciousness,
        unleashing an unfathomable capacity for cruelty as well as
        seductive illusions of omnipotence…

        …even when exposed to public scrutiny, torturers arouse such
        fear and fascination, attraction and revulsion, that they are not
        prosecuted for their crimes…”

        While many of us have never known about “hazing” (except in
        books) or served in the military, many of us carry the same
        feelings.

        It should be noted that Francis Jennings cited above is careful
        to note that while deploring Native Americans for “savagery”,
        Europeans did not then have an exemplary record with people
        gathering at city squares to view executions, public
        torture etc. as an entertainment.

        —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • June 22, 2017 at 17:16

      Sounds like ya tried anyway.

    • Fitzhenrymac
      June 28, 2017 at 23:30

      I’m currently reading Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline. In it, to use Wertsch’s words, he describes “the hidden subculture of American Military Brats.” His description of the appalling hazing of first year students at a military academy is only equalled by its even more appalling description of the perpetrators, 2nd year students.

      Having experienced humiliating, violent abuse, seen their classmates commit suicide and looked in the eyes of torturers , all in the name of turning them into men; most of them become torturers themselves with gusto. They have no empathy with younger students. They are, in fact, not men but have become killing animals.

      A good example of how they talk is in SteveM’s comment above.

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