Sunday February 24, 2019
Home Opinion America needs...

America needs non-violence and less guns

1
//

Hardly a day passes when a senseless mass shooting does not occur in the United States of America, to the extent  that such murders now seem to have lost their shock value. Verily, the US is averaging a little over one mass shooting every day in 2015.

Therefore, in that respect Wednesday was just another day in America when a couple armed with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, attired in military-style clothing went on a shooting spree at a social services centre in San Bernadino, California that specialises in helping adults with disabilities and mental health problems. They killed at least 14 people and wounded 17 others.

The man and woman, Syed Rizwan Farook (28), and Tashfeen Malik (27) were later killed by police. According to reports, Farook, a US citizen, had left an event, possibly a holiday party for employees or a meeting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino “under some circumstances that were described as angry,” and returned with Malik armed with assault rifles.

Now that it has come to light that the perpetrators were Muslims by faith, this attack would be termed an act of terrorism. But that should not stop Americans from introspecting and looking inwards to realize that they, as a society, have a serious issue at hand concerning excessive violence. Over 310 million firearms are estimated to be in the hands of private citizens; that is, roughly 97 guns for every 100 people.

Source: FBI

Studies show that where guns are more available, there are more homicides. This, coupled with the fact that nearly nine percent of the US population has a serious anger problem, makes America potentially the most violent and dangerous country on the planet.

“Anger is a normal human emotion,” Jeffrey Swanson, a Duke University psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor, and a leading expert on US gun violence tells National Catholic Reporter.

“Everybody gets angry. But these are people who, when they get angry, break and smash things, and get into physical fights. … People who have a really short fuse,” and who can at times be “uncontrollable and destructive.”

The problem arises when angry people have easy access to assault rifles that can inflict excessive physical harm on others. The issue would, however, not vanish even if we were to take away all the weapons from the private citizens, for the ‘anger’ would manage to find some other means of violent expression.

Even the US security personnel have been of late accused of unnecessarily pulling the trigger on unarmed ‘black’ citizens, as the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014 and other such incidents show.

Let the Truth be told. America comes across as a trigger-happy and extremely violent country, for not only its military but also its private citizens are armed to the teeth. Americans love their weapons and are more than happy in waging unnecessary wars on hapless countries who pose no threat to them.

Iraq never threatened America, yet the ancient country was attacked under the false and malicious pretext of it possessing the weapons of mass destruction, which have not been found till date. It led to the creation of the ISIS, a death cult, that now poses a threat to the entire world. Now, in order to deal with this pressing problem engendered by themselves, the US would wage another war and the cycle of death and destruction would thus continue.

There’s too much violence in the words, thoughts and actions of Americans. Apparently, they have an excessive violence in their movies and dramas as well.

27-year-old former graduate student James Holmes, dressed in tactical clothing and inspired by a Hollywood movie, had in July 2012 attacked the packed premiere of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado, spraying bullets into the dark auditorium, killing 12 people – including a six-year-child – and injuring several others.

Why do such incidents happen in the US on a regular basis? Why do people have an easy access to weapons that, as history shows, are likely to be used against fellow citizens at the drop of a hat?

Mahatma Gandhi, who taught the lesson of non-violence and brotherhood to a world engulfed in sanguine wars in the early twentieth century, felt that possession of arms was not only cowardice but also a lack of fearlessness or courage.

Gandhi said: “I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart, a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice, but true nonviolence is impossible without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness.”

Perpetrators of violence or criminals, Gandhiji believed, were products of social disintegration. The only weapon that could counter ‘Himsa’ (violence) was ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence), which was more than just avoidance of physical violence. For Gandhiji, Ahimsa was love for fellow human beings and humanity.

Arun Gandhi, Gandhiji’s grandson, explains: “He (Gandhi) said ahimsa means love. Because if you have love towards somebody, and you respect that person, then you are not going to do any harm to that person.”

What Americans need right now is a sense of humanity and love, not only for their fellow countrymen but for the entire world. The US constitution says, “All men are created equal.” Therefore, the life of a human being in Syria or Iraq should be of the same worth as that of an American. Once we start seeing each other as human beings first, all differences in terms of race, language, colour, caste, creed and nationality would begin to wither away. And then, the Kingdom of God will be there in the world, instead of Satan who seems to rule the roost today.

The world is at war with itself, but the biggest battle is being fought within us, between the good and evil in our hearts. We need to win this war through the weapon of non-violence i.e. love. Only love and unadulterated humanity can save this world from its perdition.

(Image: BBC)

  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Saying goes -you shall get what you sow and how you grow.American claim to world role model need to remove the defect in their base

Next Story

US Hate Groups Increases by 7% in 2 years, Hit Record

US Hate Groups Hit Record Number Last Year Amid Increased Violence.

0
US, Hate Groups, Violence
FILE - A neo-Nazi attends a rally in Newnan, Georgia, April 21, 2018. VOA

The white supremacist group Identity Evropa more than doubled the number of its chapters.

The violent neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen Division grew from one chapter to 27.

The white nationalist group and podcasting site The Right Stuff boasted 34 chapters.

American hate groups had a bumper year in 2018 as a surge in black and white nationalist groups lifted their number to a new record high, the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report issued Wednesday.

The Alabama-based legal advocacy organization recorded 1,020 active hate groups last year, up 7 percent from 2017. The previous record tallied by SPLC was 1,018 in 2011 amid a white extremist backlash against the presidency of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president.

US, hate groups, violence
Number of hate groups in US have increased from 497 to 1020 within two decades. Pixabay

The increase was driven by growth in both black and white nationalist groups, the SPLC said. The number of white nationalist groups jumped from 100 to 148, while the number of black nationalist groups — typically anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ and anti-white — rose from 233 to 264.

The SPLC defines a hate group as “an organization that, based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities, has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

The number of hate groups has grown every year for the past four years, the SPLC said, a 30 percent increase roughly coinciding with President Donald Trump’s election campaign and presidency. The increase followed three years of decline toward the end of the Obama administration.

Hate crimes

Hate crimes have followed a similar trajectory in recent years. After falling for three consecutive years, attacks on blacks, Jews, Muslims and other minorities increased by 30 percent in the three-year period ending in 2017, according to the latest FBI data.

US, hate group, violence
FILE – A man is detained while white supremacist Jason Kessler arrives at the Vienna metro station in Vienna, Va., Aug. 12, 2018. White nationalists are gathering in Washington on the first anniversary of their rally in Charlottesville. VOA

The uptrend continued into last year, with hate crimes in America’s 30 largest cities surging by an additional 10 percent, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

The majority of hate crimes are nonviolent, but some incidents were deadly. White supremacists in the U.S. and Canada killed at least 40 people last year, up from 17 people the year before, according to the SPLC’s tally.

While most bias-motivated offenses are not committed by members of hate groups, the perpetrators of hate crimes draw inspiration from ideas put out by hate groups, said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project and author of the report.

‘Go-ahead’ from Trump

Beirich blamed Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim statements and policies for heightening deep-seated white nationalist fears of an impending white-minority country.

US, hate group, violence
FILE – In this Feb. 19, 2017 file photo, people carry posters during a rally against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, in New York’s Times Square. VOA

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be nonwhite in 2020, while the U.S. population is slated to become majority-minority in 2044.

“Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it with both his rhetoric and his policies,” Beirich said. “In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Black nationalist groups, which advocate separate institutions or even a separate nation, made up about a quarter of hate groups tracked in 2018.

But the SPLC said the black extremist groups “lagged far behind the more than 700 groups that adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology,” the report said.

Among white extremist groups, the SPLC counted 112 neo-Nazi groups, 148 white nationalist organizations, 63 racist skinhead groups, 36 neo-Confederate outfits and 17 Christian Identity organizations.

KKK falling

But not all white hate groups thrived last year. The number of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters fell for the third straight year, dropping to 51 in 2018 from 130 in 2016.

US, hate groups, violence
FILE – Members of the Ku Klux Klan participate in cross burnings in rural Paulding County near Cedar Town, Georgia, April 23, 2016. VOA

With its outdated traditions and penchant for white robes, the KKK, the nation’s oldest racist organization, has failed to appeal to young white tech-savvy racists, the SPLC said.

“It may be that the KKK, having somehow endured since 1866, is finally on its last legs,” the report said.

The SPLC started tracking KKK chapters in 1987 and later expanded its list to include other hate groups. In recent years, as it has put new groups on its list, including anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ organizations, conservative groups have accused the SPLC of unfairly labeling them.

ALSO READ: U.S. Trade Representative To Corroborate on China

Last month, the Center for Immigration Studies sued the SPLC in federal court in Washington for “falsely designating” it as a hate group in 2016, saying the SPLC has produced no evidence that the group maligns immigrants as a class.

Beirich said the SPLC is standing by its hate group listings. (VOA)