Another atrocious act of violence followed by yet another phoney happy ending. No, it's not Hollywood; it's contemporary America. Images of people cheering at the arrest and killing of the Boston suspects speak of a nation way too lost in its own nightmarish unreason to realize the gravity of the situation. People posing for photographs, smiling, holding the American flag: What exactly is there to celebrate?
The arrest of those responsible for a vile attack, I suppose. But is this state-sponsored, media-sanctioned mob mentality what America needs in the aftermath of such tragedies? Isn't it time to investigate the social roots and deep-seated causes of these atrocities which occur with disturbing regularity in the world's most violent nation? Sadly, it seems that, once again, America would believe that it has defeated the bad guys, that justice prevailed once again.
Happy with this Disneyfied vision of reality, the country will move on until news of the next carnage hits headlines.
It is a bitter coincidence that the American senate failed to pass reforms on gun control following the deadly events in Boston and the macabre manhunt that followed. Here we have a country held to ransom by profit and gun lobbies where, as television author David Simon recently observed, "capital has succeeded in buying the remnants of democracy at wholesale prices."
A country where the FBI posted the suspects' pictures online, unleashing a medieval lynch-mob mentality in a town which had just witnessed an act of vile, senseless violence. A town which, in the span of few days, passed from mournful to euphoric. A country where gun massacres seem to be an almost daily occurrence, but where we have yet to hear a serious, mainstream-level debate around this social gangrene. What corporate media do instead is fuel this idiotic and criminal version of an innocent America being tarnished by the madness of a few or the malignity of "the other" (the Muslim variety being very popular at the moment). Nothing could be furthest from the facts.
America's violent plague is, sadly, mostly self-inflected. Here is what Peter Hart pointed out in conversation with Democracy Now! a few days ago:
"We're forgetting a series of attacks committed by domestic right-wing extremists - the Sikh temple massacre; we're talking about the guy who went to a Unitarian church in Tennessee, killed two people, was inspired by a right-wing author; several acts that seem to be connected to the rhetoric of Glenn Beck. These things are flushed down the memory hole. We don't even recall clearly enough who the actual culprit was in Atlanta, in the Atlanta bombing. People remember Richard Jewell, they remember the rush to consider him a suspect; they forget that Eric Rudolph, a right-wing domestic terrorist, anti-abortion extremist, was the person responsible for this. We forget all of these things, and our mind - in the media, our mind turns to Muslims, to Islamic terrorism, to the Times Square attempted bombing."
Obviously the historical roots of American violence go way back in time, America being a nation of settlers founded on genocide. That does not mean that a serious, responsible debate around the causes (and, let's not forget, painful consequences) of violence cannot happen. What's most scary is that as these lines are being written, newspapers around the country boast on their front pages images of cheering Americans.
There is a perverse streak in all this. Personally I find these images deeply disturbing, and even more so the fact that mainstream media propagate them in jubilation. How can such devastatingly sad events provoke any form of happiness?
The inability to grasp the abyss of violence America has been free-falling into is rather worrying. What will it take for the "greatest" and most violent nation in the world to come to terms with its violent culture? Not another tragedy, that's for sure, since the spate of recent tragedies has failed to instigate a change in the angle of public debate.
What the country needs is an investigation into the social causes of a dreadful disease, namely, its culture of violence. It is simply too dangerous to believe that these bloody events are happening in the same place by chance, or even worse because some "hate" America. We cannot afford to buy into these misconceptions.
This article has been previously published on China.org.cn