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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Violence, violence, and more violence permeates our daily lives
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Violence, violence, and more violence permeates our daily lives

david sirota offers up a very thoughtful piece on the violent culture of the united states in today's alternet...
Today, one in every three dollars the government spends goes to defense and security. The killing machine and adventurism that money manufactures has delivered 1 million Iraqi casualties, thousands of American casualties and an implicit promise of future wars -- indeed, of permanent war.

Perpetuating this expenditure, bloodshed and posture in a nation of dwindling resources, humanitarian self-images and anti-interventionist impulses requires a culture constantly selling violence as a necessity. It's not just video games -- it's the nightly news echoing Pentagon propaganda and "hawkish" politicians equating militarism with patriotism and "embedded" journalism cheering on wars and every other suit-and-tie-clad industry constantly forwarding the assumption that killing is a legitimate form of national ambition and self-expression. Is it any wonder that a few crazies apply that ethos to their individual lives, and begin seeing violence as a reasonable means to express their own emotions?

i was moved to respond...
Although, I must say, I completely agree with your assessment. Our national culture is totally constructed on exploitation - of people, of resources, of the planet - and exploitation is inextricably tied to violence. But it's not only the deeper questions about people turning to violence that our superficiality-obsessed society avoids, it is ANY deeper discussion about ANYTHING.

I teach a graduate seminar in leadership and one of the things I say to the students right off the bat is that the corpus of writings on leadership that leap off the shelves at the unwary consumer in every bookstore in the country are nothing more than fast-food recipes containing little in the way of nutritional ingredients and probably not much more in the way of anything natural whatsoever.

What is the level of national discussion about sex? Janet Jackson's nipple? Sarah Palin's daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy? There's no "discussion" to be had, merely more titillation.

The recent national obsession with the shooting of the three Somalian pirates was nothing more than violence pornography. The lede in Jonah Goldberg's LA Times editorial was this: "Shooting three Somali pirates was a good start. Now let's shoot some more." Unbelievable or, rather, perhaps TOO believable.

I am typing this as I sit at my desk in Kabul, Afghanistan, the current epicenter of violence, at least from the perspective of our violence-besotted media. But even my Afghan colleagues, inured as they are to violence on a daily basis, scratch their heads over the violent episodes they read about in the U.S. The U.S. is the penultimate, they reason. Why in the world would people there engage in such behavior?

Why indeed.

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