Rising American violence: Images and Reality

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Kevin Barrett

Rabi' al-Thani 24, 1440 2019-01-01

Opinion

by Kevin Barrett (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 11, Rabi' al-Thani, 1440)

Mass shootings in schools, churches, and synagogues, trumpeted in the media foster the impression that a bloody tide of senseless violence is washing over America. Opinions differ as to who is to blame. Anti-gun groups blame guns. Jews blame anti-Semitism. Racists blame non-whites. Islamophobes blame Muslims. Antifa blames fascists. Natives blame immigrants. Gays blame homophobia. Conservatives blame liberals. Feminists blame patriarchy. And the blame game goes on and on… But beyond these increasingly partisan discourses, what is the reality?

The United States of America is clearly an unusually violent nation. It spends more money on its military — whose job is to threaten or inflict massive violence — than the next seven countries combined. According to the late William Blum, author of Killing Hope and Rogue State, mass murders of innocent civilians by US military and CIA interventions since WWII amount to an “American holocaust.” This hecatomb has taken the lives of roughly 55–60 million victims since WWII according to Noam Chomsky and André Vltchek, authors of On Western Terrorism.

Domestically, Americans die violent deaths at an alarming rate. Americans suffer 32,000 firearms deaths each year, a rate of 88 per day — the highest among industrialized countries. Among Americans aged 15 to 34, homicide and suicide represent two of the top three causes of death. More American children are killed by gunfire each year than die from cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, and HIV/AIDS combined.

Why would such a prosperous nation experience so much violence? Shouldn’t the US, whose GDP still tops the world, provide a comfortable and secure life to its people, obviating the need for violence? As the second decade of the 21st century CE draws to a close, Americans generally believe that violence in their nation is getting worse. Many, especially Trump voters, blame that violence on foreigners, or people perceived as foreigners. Mexicans and Muslims, in particular, are singled out as sources of crime and terrorism, respectively.

These perceptions stem from media images, not reality. Hollywood has always demonized Arabs and Muslims, as explained in Jack Shaheen’s Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. Cinematic images of cartoonish Muslim villains mix easily with TV news images of equally cartoonish “terrorists,” injecting a Zionist-engineered stereotype into the American unconscious mind.

The Zionist connection, taboo in mainstream circles, merits more discussion. America’s mainstream media, especially Hollywood, is disproportionately saturated with ethnically Jewish decision makers who are mostly pro-Zionist in outlook. Two good introductions to this topic written by Jews are Joel Stein’s “Who Runs Hollywood? C’mon” and Philip Weiss’ “Do Jews Dominate in American Media? And So What If We Do?” Since Zionism is fighting a war to the death against Islam and Muslims (and non-Zionist Christians) for control of Palestine in general and Jerusalem (al-Quds) in particular, it is unsurprising that those who ethnically identify with one side in that struggle, and who dominate in media, would promulgate propaganda stereotypes against those they consciously or unconsciously view as “the enemy.”

The Zionist-dominated media’s relentless demonization of Muslims disguises the fact that there is essentially no “Islamic terrorist threat” inside the United States. Even if 9/11 had been perpetrated by Muslim extremists rather that anti-Islamic neoconservatives, all varieties of terrorism in the US (including the 94% attributed to non-Muslims) would still kill far fewer people than lightning strikes and bathtub drownings (for more details on these facts, see my book Questioning the War on Terror).

Like the nonexistent “Islamic terror threat,” the specter of violence by Hispanic and immigrant criminals has been grossly exaggerated by those with a political axe to grind. Donald Trump got elected president by raging about the “rapists and killers” allegedly invading the US from Mexico. But as former American Conservative publisher Ron Unz points out, “this widespread notion of immigrant criminality is almost entirely false. All available evidence indicates that immigrants, legal or illegal, Hispanic or otherwise, have crime rates not all that much different from native-born white Americans of the same age and gender, and often somewhat lower”.

What accounts for the discrepancy between image and reality? Apparently Americans in general and white and Jewish Americans in particular consciously or unconsciously seek to offload their own group’s violence onto the “other.” Psychologically this is known as projection (attributing one’s own unacceptable impulses to others) or scapegoating (ritually blaming an innocent party). Trump’s blaming Mexicans and Muslims for the problem of American violence perfectly exemplifies these notions.

Let’s take a deeper look at the problem of scapegoating. Anthropologist René Girard has shown that mythic images of violence in literature, cinema, and other forms of storytelling tend to follow the same template, whose central pillar is scapegoating and sacrifice. Girard argues that these stories have a basis in reality. He claims that polytheistic paganism develops from the common tendency in human communities to undergo periods of degenerative collective strife (what Muslims call fitnah). These episodes of near-societal collapse, Girard asserts, are resolved when the society unites and turns its collective rage against a scapegoat. Typically the scapegoat is lynched. Since the lynching (through violent unity and shared guilt) puts an end to the fitnah, the pagan society imagines that the victim had miraculous powers to quell strife. It remembers the event as a sacred sacrifice; the victim is elevated, in collective memory, to the status of a supposed deity, to whom statues are built and offerings given.

From a Girardian perspective, the messages of the last two prophets of Abrahamic monotheism promise to put an end to paganism with its basis in human sacrifice. The story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (a), according to Girard, exposes the innocence of the lynching victim and reveals the big lie at the heart of the whole scapegoating-sacrifice cycle. Likewise the miraculous escape of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from the Quraysh murder plot, and the subsequent establishment of an Islamic community united in submission to Allah (thereby reducing or eliminating the fitnah that drives scapegoating and sacrifice) are the two crucial moments in humanity’s gradual liberation from paganism’s endless cycle of fitnah, scapegoating, and human sacrifice.

Applying Girard’s insights, we see that the US is unusually prone to fitnah. The white settlers who established its culture were a self-selected group of the ambitious and greedy. They were willing to break with their families and communities in order to cross the ocean and set off into the wilderness in search of riches and glory. Such people were individualistic if not downright antisocial. They had to be capable of violence in their efforts to seize the resources of the new continent. These tendencies were tempered by Christianity, which provided the glue that held society, such as it was, together.

Then the American founding fathers transformed the colonies into a new nation guided by Enlightenment principles. According to the new national vision, life’s purpose was not submission to God; it was, instead, the realization of God’s endowment of the human right to such things as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In other words, the freedom to pursue wealth and power (the things most people wrongly associate with happiness) became the official American creed. As Americans ambitiously and often ruthlessly pursue wealth and power, there are a few winners and a great many losers. The result is frustration, envy, rivalry, escalating quarrels, senseless violence… in a word, fitnah. The rage and frustration has to be offloaded somewhere.

9/11, an engineered ritual human sacrifice, was scripted and orchestrated by such self-styled mythmakers as Philip Zelikow to unite Americans against a scapegoat officially known as “terrorism” but unofficially recognized to be “radical Islam” or just “Islam.” But the effort to end America’s escalating fitnah by forging a new crusade failed miserably; the loss of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the heroic steadfastness of the people of Palestine and Iran among other nations, has revealed Zelikow’s project as a failure and a sham. Violence, the most visible manifestation of fitnah, continues to grow, while the widespread perception of ever-worsening violence escalates even faster than the real violence does.

The above observations raise an important question: will America collapse into an even worse cycle of fitnah, scapegoating, and human sacrifice? Or will it undergo a new Great Awakening to the fact that the purpose of life is not wealth, power, or even freedom, but willing self-submission to God?

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