American tragedy: Shoot, kill and die

American tragedy: Shoot, kill and die

American Tragedy: Shoot, Kill And Die

The political apathy over the gun issue saw the emergence of a political leadership which came to believe that guns and war would always work whereas negotiations would not

What an irony of fate! At the Washington Naval Yard, part of the US Defence establishment, a 34-year-old former Navy Reservist, Aaron Alexis, killed 13 persons before he was felled by security forces. America had witnessed one more senseless killing by defence personnel inside a defence premises. Once again the President and Americans asked themselves why these things happen so regularly.

Normally, the killing fields were schools, colleges or playgrounds, and the killers were teenagers armed with deadly weapons. We were not able to listen to their version of the crimes because they were also quickly shot down after the massacre. Last December, 20 school kids and six adults were shot down at Connecticut and the motive remained unknown. In many instances, the killers had been freely shopping for all kinds of deadly weapons and built up deadly arsenals at home.

Commonsense and logic pointed to the easy availability of guns from a weapons shop. Commonsense and logic again pointed out that such sales should be strictly controlled. How can a schoolboy walk into a gun shop and walk out with deadly weapons after giving only meager information about himself?

Today, after numerous acid attacks on young women, the Indian government appears to have realized the dangers of such easy acid sales. Such realization had not yet dawned on the US. As the world leader in democracy, the US believed in giving a freehand to its citizens to provide them with guns and destroy the lives of others.

The issue had something to do with American psyche. Americans wanted a macho image and the possession of a gun provided that. Violence hung heavily over the country and the best way to protect oneself was to own a gun. Elders in the house, husbands, wives and children all had their own guns which gave them a sense of false security. The Cowboys and the heroes of the Wild West had guns; the native Red Indians had none and were mowed down.

The gangsters led by Al Capone continued with their reign of terror till the FBI took over and used their own guns. By that time, Billy the Kid, other outlaws and dacoits like Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger made the US security pay a heavy price. Having learnt this bitter lesson, the US provided its cops and agents with guns and asked them to shoot first before asking questions.

Its famous ‘ally’ across the Atlantic, Britain, had a wonderful Scotland Yard police, who, with their batons controlled criminals easily. It was only after crime took an ugly turn with criminals sporting guns that the British ‘Bobby’ began to use firearms.

As the crime scene in the US worsened, many people saw the logic of owning guns as the best form of defence. The National Rifle Association (NRA), whose members were mainly right-wing Republicans and members of the police and armed forces, propagated buying of guns and had enough clout in Congress and the Senate to block any legislative measures to control the sale of guns.

One of the characteristics of a US Presidential election campaign was the one which opened with most of the aspirants asking for gun control but backing away gradually at the opposition from the NRA. This was seen even during the 2012 campaign when candidates Obama and his Republican rival Romney were silent on this issue even in the crucial TV debates. None wanted to antagonize the powerful NRA.

The political apathy over the gun issue saw the emergence of a political leadership which came to believe that guns and war would always work whereas negotiations would not. Even the dovish candidates finally came to adopt this stand. Look at what Obama preached in his campaign and how he is now acting from the White House threatening one ‘enemy’ after the other. Syria was the latest instance. With the gun in its hand, the US lost whatever humanity it had.

War and armed skirmishes became the easiest method to preach the American doctrine. Pentagon and the CIA, not the White House, began to run foreign policy. Gun diplomacy took over the genuine one. Gradually, political leadership acquired bloody hands. It did not matter who was killed and how so long it helped the American cause. During the long Cold War period, there were enough ‘Commies’ to be eliminated.

Now, terrorism is the excuse to get rid of unwanted Muslim leaders in West Asia and elsewhere. No one questioned the authority of the military or the CIA, and the torture chambers and the Guantanamo prisons emerged and functioned without any fear.

With the gun-crazy political leadership holding sway, the local leadership did not lag behind. The US Human Rights activists actively pursued violations elsewhere but were not to be seen when American soldiers were involved. Remember Lt William Calley, a deranged American officer who ordered the entire population of My Lai village to be lined up and shot dead on the merest suspicion they were harboring Viet Cong guerillas? That was just one instance of American brutality which went unpunished because right- wing elements in the US regarded Calley as a war hero and honored him!

Over the years, it has become clear that the average American simply did not care if his armed forces killed and tortured people from other nations. American lives had to be protected at all costs. Look at what is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan where the ‘Drones’ bombed and killed thousands of men, women and children who had no role at all in the war. Wedding celebrations, religious processions and even hospitals were not spared from the Drones attacks.

When the death toll was announced, neither the American war machine nor the political authority would apologize. While making a big hue and cry over the alleged use of Chemical weapons by Syria against the rebels, the US forgot it was the only nation which used deadly chemicals, including ‘Agent Orange’, to make barren vast stretches of fertile lands in North Vietnam.

All these are typical examples of American arrogance and intolerance. Give the guys guns, let them shoot down ‘enemies’ and if some Americans were sacrificed, it was a small price for the American way of life. The gun culture had boomeranged, killing its own people.

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