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Violence — a national tradition

Melvin B. Miller
Violence — a national tradition
“Maybe it’s really not safe to own a gun.”

Some people seek security and protection by being armed, but guns have become a menace in American society. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 45,000 Americans died from gun-related incidents in the United States in 2020. That is the highest death toll in 25 years. All the deaths were not the result of firearm accidents or murder. More than half were suicides.

As might be expected, there was a disparity in the increase of murders in poor communities and among Blacks. In 2020, the FBI also reported a surge in violent race crimes against Blacks. There were 8,052 hate crimes reported, and 64.9% were based on race or ancestry. According to the FBI, half of those involved Black victims. The data gathered so far for race violence in 2021 shows an even greater increase in racial hatred incidents.

There was some hope among Blacks that a substantial number of young whites would reject the racial hostility that their elders had embraced. A hopeful sign was the number of young whites who participated in the protests following the brutal death of George Floyd. However, the recent murderous assault by a white teenager on Blacks in Buffalo as they shopped at the local grocery store tended to end that expectation.

The recent murder of elementary school students in Uvalde, Texas indicates that some teenagers have a death wish to be involved in a murder-suicide. The gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. Identified as an 18-year-old resident of the town, Salvador Ramos left little information on his motive for the mass murder. As soon as he was 18 and old enough to buy an AR-15, he then proceeded to assassinate young students at Robb Elementary School.

Mass murderers now seem to be an American tradition. They began to be substantial with 13 Columbine High School deaths in 1999. The Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in 2012 caused the death of 26 children; also in 2012, 26 high school students were killed in Parkland, Florida. With 21 shot to death in Uvalde, school has become a perilous place for young Americans.

There have also been other memorable mass murders. In 2016, someone entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida and killed 49 people because of his opposition to homosexuality. In 2017 in Las Vegas, a man holed up in a suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel  opened fire on a crowd below attending a music festival, killing 58. Also in 2017, a man killed 26 people attending the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Despite this record of mass shootings, Americans still have the nerve to insist that they are especially civilized. How often does one hear the mindless chant, “We are number one!!” From 1998 to 2022 there have been 101 mass shootings in the United States. That is a shooting with four or more victims. During those same years, Australia, Austria, Croatia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia and the United Kingdom had only one. Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland had two. Canada had only four. This is for a period of 21 years.

America has always been a violent place. According to the Tuskegee Institute research, between 1883 and 1941 there were 3,265 lynchings of Blacks and 1,082 white lynchings. In 1921, whites in Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked Blacks who had developed a section of the city. It is estimated that more than 100 Black residents were killed. Whites were enraged that Blacks insisted that a Black teenager accused of sexual assault on a white girl be tried in court rather than lynched.

Pundits attribute racially based mass murder such as the recent attack on Blacks at Tops grocery store in Buffalo as a consequence of so-called “Replacement Theory.” The reality of the concept that Blacks and non-white immigrants could replace whites was once unrealistic. But as the talents of the so-called minority groups began to emerge, whites of questionable competence became concerned about their ability to qualify for future opportunities. They developed a strategy to provide special privilege for so-called “classic Americans.” Some whites thereby sacrificed their humanity. And Blacks should realistically be concerned by the concept.