It’s a problem that won’t go away. A shooting. People die. “Prayers and thoughts.” Why? Repeat, again and again.
We Americans live in a cultural cesspool of sanctioned violence by the state and its citizens, glorify mayhem and slaughter in the media, and wonder, always wonder, how this shit happens over and over.
The problem is uniquely American. The following table from the New York Times:
In the United States, the death rate from gun homicides is about 31 per million people, which is similar to the rate at which Americans die in car accidents (not including van, truck, bus or motorcycle accidents).
But go ahead. Proclaim America Number One. Or would you prefer the far more peaceful societies of Norway, England, and Japan? Unfortunately, such preferences cannot be realized, unless you’re willing and able to say goodbye to your origin of birth and family. Not so easy.
Another option would be to transform the U.S. Right. It seems that we’re more likely to adopt fascism than social democracy, judging by the favorable response to Republican presidential candidates, especially Donald Trump.
The New York Times listened to all the words Trump spoke last week. There were about 95,000 in total, delivered at various forums. The paper asked historians to evaluate the candidate’s rhetoric.
This pattern of elevating emotional appeals over rational ones is a rhetorical style that historians, psychologists and political scientists placed in the tradition of political figures like Goldwater, George Wallace, Joseph McCarthy, Huey Long and Pat Buchanan, who used fiery language to try to win favor with struggling or scared Americans. Several historians watched Mr. Trump’s speeches last week, at the request of The Times, and observed techniques — like vilifying groups of people and stoking the insecurities of his audiences — that they associate with Wallace and McCarthy.
Have you given any thought to what happens should this “guy” become president?
David Brooks says that we should not worry about this eventuality. When Americans enter the voting booth, they put aside their anger and discontent. He writes:
…voters tend to gravitate toward the person who seems most orderly. As the primary season advances, voters’ tolerance for risk declines. They focus on the potential downsides of each contender and wonder, Could this person make things even worse?
I wonder what went through the minds of Germans as they marked their ballots in the 1930s. Increasingly they went for order, to be sure. But they got a whole lot more.
Could it happen here?