Routine

By David Brooks on October 4, 2015

david brooksI didn’t want to write about this, about death that prevails in the news in this country, about the multi-homicides that the President says have become routine, while he, as Commander in Chief, routinely orders multi-homicide attacks on innocent people in other countries.

At the end of last week in Oregon nine innocent people were killed in a massive shootout – one of nearly thousands of mass shootings that have occurred in this country in the last three years. Obama regretted that such news, including his official grief, have become routine. But he did no more than to say that he couldn’t do more, and urged voters to force the political class to change the laws of arms control in the country.

A few hours after his statement, in one of the routine U.S. airstrikes of endless wars – this time in Afghanistan –at least 19 civilians died including 3 children, some 40 or more were injured. The victims were doctors, medical staff and patients in a trauma hospital of Doctors Without Borders. The international director of the organization condemned the despicable act and called the attack a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Those responsible for human rights at the United Nations urged that an investigation of a possibly criminal act take place. The Pentagon initially said that the attack was against enemy targets, that it was investigating the incident, and there was apparently collateral damage. The President and his subordinates – once again routinely – expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

No one knows the exact number of victims of homicidal incidents, or massacres of innocent people in the various fronts of the United States wars going on in other countries, and much less their names and their stories (it is likely some resemble the victims in Oregon students and teachers). The estimated number of deaths in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 is approximately 150 thousand, the estimate of deaths, in routine incidents carried out by orders of the White House.

Here at home, including the tragedy of Oregon, there have been on average more than one mass shooting in the U.S. per day. Since the beginning of 2015 there have so far been 294 incidents in 274 days according to Mass Shooting Tracker (these are technical definitions that the FBI has recorded; a mass shooting is an incident that killed three or more people; independent organizations registered mass shootings as incidents where there are four or more people killed or injured).

More statistics: so far in 2015, the total number of incidents of violence of all kinds with firearms (including homicides, accidents and suicides) has reached 39 thousand 545, resulting in 9 thousand 958 deaths and 20 thousand wounded. Among the victims killed or injured there are 551 children and 1,966 adolescents, according to Gun Violence Archive. Since the re-election of Obama, in 2012, there have been 994 incidents of mass shootings, reported at Shootingtracker.com. According to official figures, in 2013 (the most recent year for which there are statistics) more than 11 thousand were killed by firearms. In all kind of incidents, firearms are the cause of death of about 33 thousand people each year in this country.

Thus more people in the United States die in one single day because of firearms violence than those who died by terrorist attacks throughout 2014, according to some estimates.

It is worth repeating: this country has the most armed population in the world, with more than 300 million guns in private hands.

On the other hand – continuing with the issue of violence and death – last week there were six people in the United States about to be executed at the hands of state governments in a span of nine days. Two already were scheduled to die, one has been postponed and another’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. According to Amnesty International has deemed the death penalty as the final and irreversible denial of human rights. About 3019 prisoners are currently awaiting execution in the United States.

I didn’t want to write on how bombings of children and its doctors continue in other countries, nor about the chilling and incessant sound of bullets in the streets, in universities, in this country, and even less did I want to talk about legal executions, something condemned by the Pope last week, when he proclaimed that all those who claim to be champions of right to life (as anti-abortion forces in this country are called) have to oppose the death penalty.

As reporters, we have to cover death, violence, blood; some do it with the hope that one day everybody will get tired of it all. We have again and again interviewed victims of firearms, with prisoners a few hours before being executed by the authorities; not to mention the reporters who are covering the longest wars in the history of the United States. There is an old journalistic saying in this country: if it bleeds, it leads.

Either way, the violent deaths, by force, by the bullet, by the bomb, by the sometimes premeditated action, sometimes crazy, of an action of one against the others, was the inevitable theme of this past week in the United States. As the last Friday editorial in La Jornada stated, about the killings in the United States: the problem seems to be deeper and relates to a State that as a historical trait has made an exaltation of violence and death as legitimate methods of action.

Shortly before being murdered, the Rev. Martin Luther King said that before we speak against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos, first he had to speak against the largest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own Government.

When will a war against guns be declared? a war against the war?

Only then we will be able to break the routine.

Translated by Resumen Latinoamericano North America Bureau

Source: American Curios/David Brooks