Media pundits and politicians blame lax gun laws, social isolation and mental illness for mass shootings, but ignore the advent of a fascist culture that venerates the U.S. military.
In the wake of a barrage of mass shootings, the media have offered a variety of explanations centering predominantly on the social isolation and mental illness of shooters and their easy access to military-style weaponry due to lax gun regulations.
These factors are significant but almost all media pundits avoid the gorilla sitting in the psyche of the American mind—that of the huge military budget and culture of military veneration, which is reminiscent of fascist cultures.
In a July 8 column entitled “Why Shooters Do the Evil They Do,” New York Times columnist David Brooks characteristically cites mental illness, loneliness and the need for recognition and power as lying at the root of recent mass shootings.
What is missing is any discussion of American-style militarism, something Brooks has whitewashed throughout his writing career.
According to David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, 36% of mass shooters have been trained by the U.S. military—when only one percent of Americans serve in the military.
Many of the mass shooters also have used military-style weapons and have worn military-style clothing.
Jillian Peterson and James Densley recently published a detailed study of mass shooters sponsored by the the National Institute of Justice entitled The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic, which has been widely cited by the media.
The book casts light on many dark corners of American life but characteristically ignores among the darkest—the military-industrial complex.
Peterson and Densley found that, of 172 mass shooters, only four were women. Most bought guns legally, had previous issues with violence or mental illness and experienced feelings of hopelessness. The authors also noted that many of the shooters were under 25 years old and that their prefrontal cortex, or brain, had not fully developed.
The authors fail to consider, however, how a 20-year war waged by their own country might have had a negative influence on the behavior of some of the mass shooters, or how some may have been broken by their time serving in Afghanistan or Iraq—which we know to be the case.
Kids in the U.S. are taught in school to honor their country each morning as they recite the pledge of allegiance and to venerate veterans on Memorial Day and other holidays. Might the stories of their national military killing people around the planet have some influence on young people already suffering from an increased exposure to violence on television and in the movies?
The year 2019 was deadly for young shooters. The same year, not coincidentally, saw President Donald Trump pardon and lionize Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, who murdered an Iraqi teen and was known as a psychopath among his platoon mates.
In 2015, Pope Francis addressed a Joint Session of Congress charging the arms industry with having blood on its hands. Many applauded him, but since that time, the U.S. military budget has increased over $116,000,000,000 as violence at home has only increased.
In his famous speech against the Vietnam War—given one year before his assassination on April 4, 1968—Martin Luther King, Jr., called the U.S. the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Why then should it be any surprise that the target of violence should increasingly be Americans?
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