“The shooting in Aurora is indicative of a particular national sickness – a fetishization of guns and propensity for spectacular violence. But the response (or lack thereof) to this latest American tragedy speaks to something else: a national denial about that which really threatens us,” Michael Cohen wrote onThe Guardian website.
Last Friday, a masked gunman, identified as James Holmes, killed 12 people and wounded 59 others in the city of Aurora near Denver in one of the worst mass shootings in American history.
Holmes, a Ph.D. student of neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school, opened fire on viewers during the screening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises in the city’s Century Theater cinema.
“This is a depressingly familiar tale of modern American life – the massacre of innocent people with guns and ammunition legally acquired with relative ease. Unfortunately, while such mass killings are all too prevalent, so too is the muted response of policymakers,” Cohen said.
He said as the US liberals and conservatives continue to wrangle over policies, some of “the weakest gun control laws in the developed world” remain in place.
“Now imagine this scenario with a different protagonist. Imagine if the killer was … trained in the wilds of Pakistan’s FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) region, or Yemen. … How would the reaction to this crime differ? It’s not hard to imagine at all.”
“For example, after the so-called underwear bomber failed to blow up an American plane in December 2009, the US ramped up its drone operations against al-Qaeda in Yemen.”
“Or go further back to September 11: 3,000 Americans were killed in the worst terrorist attack in American history. In response, the US spent more than USD three trillion in direct and indirect costs. In addition, subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq led to more Americans being killed or maimed than died on 11 September itself,” Cohen added.
He said the larger point here is that the US political leaders activated resources to deal with the “perceived threat that came from terrorism” – military and intelligence budgets were significantly increased; foreign wars were started; homeland security was tightened up.
“Ten years after 9/11, the US is still waging wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia to defeat terrorists who were, last year, responsible for the deaths of 17 Americans. Efforts to lower defense spending simply to the unjustifiably high levels of a mere five years ago have been met with criticisms from both Republicans and Democrats.”
“In short, even as the obvious threat from terrorism has decreased, the US continues to squander blood and treasure in fighting it,” Cohen said.
He juxtaposed this mobilization against the purported foreign threats with efforts on the domestic front, for example, to save the lives of those Americans who “die from lack of healthcare coverage.”
“From 2000 to 2006 – a time when the war on terrorism was operating at full speed – 137,000 Americans died prematurely because they didn’t have health insurance,” Cohen said.
“The vast majority of Americans die from one of four ailments: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease. Each of these is primarily caused by risk factors that are quite preventable: smoking, diet, lack of physical activity and alcohol.”
He said the situation is the result of “the failures of not just the country’s political leaders, but also its political system,” or perhaps it is simply a refusal by Americans to realize their own limitations and faults as a nation.
“But whatever the reason, the result is the same – a nation that, as Mitt Romney noted Yesterday (June 24), sees itself as the “greatest force for good in the world” but is rotting from the inside because it has yet to come to grips with its own domestic maladies.”
- America rots from the inside, while overreacting to threats from outside | Michael Cohen (guardian.co.uk)
- The Collapse Of America: 25 Signs That Things Are Speeding Up As Society Rots From The Inside Out (sott.net)