Chickens Come Home to Roost

Note: I wrote this piece in 2010 because of US involvement in constant war. I knew about many of the wars via the movies (World Wars I & II, Korea). I was in the Army during Vietnam and witnessed several other US "interventions since then. This piece is only here because of one paragraph, which I highlighted in red. I will say up front that it took no genius to make such a prediction, but it just shows how normalized mass killing in the US have become.

Another school massacre, this time at Virginia Tech, brings focus on guns in America as the country reels trying to figure out what to do about Americans and their guns. Over the last five years, there have been more than 30 cases of shootings or planned shootings at American colleges and high schools. What happened at Virginia Tech University is simply a case of the “chickens coming home to roost,” as the late Malcolm X said when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Malcolm X, later killed in a hail of gunfire at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, meant that violence perpetuates itself from example. If gunfire settles disputes, then people will follow that illustration to resolve their own grievances, quarrels and perception of unfair treatment.

The list of people to blame is long and includes makers of violent movies, murderous video games, gangster rap and graphic news sources that regularly serve up enough mayhem to last a life time. Plus, our schools now act as combat zones for disgruntled students and teachers. The element of respect has disappeared and procuring a gun is nearly as easy as getting a cigarette.

That is just a beginning of the list of perpetrators, but the most important person hasn’t been mentioned because it is us. Everything mentioned here would go away if “we” said no. I am not so naïve to believe this could happen without a fight, because I’m talking about money. All of these mind-warping activities generate money and the people who make money from the sale of the products creating a mindless society will fight back.

Violence is a way of life in the United States. Since I was born, war remains constant. Since 1946, the United States goes to war or is in a conflict every 3.2 years. Not counting the Cold War, the United States remained stuck in war for nearly 30 years on just two conflicts. The following represents an abbreviated list of US wars and conflicts since the beginning of the 20th century: The Cold War, The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Lebanon Intervention, the Dominican Republic Intervention, the Libyan Conflict, another Lebanon intervention, the Invasion of Grenada, The Tanker War, Invasion of Panama, Persian Gulf War, No-Fly Zone War, Intervention in Somalia, Operation Deliberate Force (Bosnia), Occupation of Haiti, Desert Fox, Kosovo War, and the War on Terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom which only recently ended. 

Sadly, what happened in Virginia will happen again and again, if voices are not raised to do something about it. Unfortunately, after seeing the changes that took place after the Columbine massacre, I expect to witness another mass killing at another school and once again there will be a great furor but nothing will be done about it because the influences that cause these outbreaks are everywhere and there is too much money being made by suppliers. My heart goes out to all of Virginia Tech University, the professors, students and especially the families.

Since 1914, the United States fought in 10 different wars, interventions or police actions. In those 94 years, the country has spent 36 years fighting or a third of its time involved in war. I bring this out not to criticize the United States, but to show that violence is all around us. More importantly, it is plain that the highest level of authority in this country has no problem using violence to solve problems. Of course, this information does absolutely nothing for the parents, relatives and friends who died at Virginia Tech, but to those who never faced such a situation, it is a reminder of the world we live in, that we call normal.

Meanwhile the legislature is still trying to figure out what happened. Of course, that is part of the problem; whenever something like this happens cowardice overcomes Washington as incumbents worry about who finances their campaigns and who they might piss off instead of doing the right thing. However, as much as I despise Congress, as Americans, we can’t expect Congress to grow cojones overnight.

The other reason we can’t blame all of it on Congress is because we are the other part of the problem. So, if we must look for a change, perhaps it is time to look at our own life styles that promote impersonal conduct, elevate brutal behavior and that glorify the ends justifying the means. It is there we can make a change. It is all of us or none. If it be none, then it is time that we start making plans for the next massacre because it will only be a matter of time before the chickens come home to roost—again.

 

Engagements

Dates

Killed

Wounded

Years

Boxer Rebellion

1900-1901

37

204

1

World War I

1914-1918

53,402

204,002

4

Mexican Revolution

1914-1919

35

70

5

Occupation of Haiti

1915-1934

146

26 

19

Northern Russia Expedition

1918-1920

2

424

2

Occupation of Nicaragua

1927-1933

48

68

6

World War II

1939-1945

291,557

671,846

6

Berlin Blockade

1948-1949

0

0

1

Korean War

1950-1953

33,741

103,284

3

Vietnam War

1960-1975

 47,424

153,303

15

Bay of Pigs Invasion

1961-1962

0

0

1

Invasion of Dominican Republic

1965-1966

0

200

1

El Salvador Civil War

1980-1992

20

35

12

Invasion of Grenada

1983-1983

19

119

1

Beirut Deployment

1982-1984

266

169

2

Persian Gulf Escorts

1987-1988

39

31

1

Invasion of Panama

1989-1990

40

324

1

Persian Gulf War

1990-1991

299

467

1

Somalia

1993-1994

43

153

1

Haiti

1994-1995

0

4

1

Intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina

1995-2004

267

2,340

9

Kosovo

1999-2008

19

20

9

Afghanistan

2001-2013

557

2,291

12

Invasion of Iraq

2003-2011

6,128

35,324

8

 

Deaths 434,089 --  Wounded 1,174,704

 

121 Years of War

13 Years Between Boxer rebellion and World War I

  1. 1900—1901 to 1914—13 Years
  2. 1914—1918
  3. 1914—1919
  4. 1915—1934 to 1939—5 Years
  5. 1918—1920
  6. 1927—1933
  7. 1939—1945 to 1948—3 Years
  8. 1948—1949
  9. 1950—1953 to 1960—7 Years
  10. 1960—1975 to 1980—5 Years
  11. 1961
  12. 1965—1966
  13. 1980—1992
  14. 1983
  15. 1982—1984
  16. 1987—1988
  17. 1989
  18. 1990—1991
  19. 1993—1993 to 1995—2 Years
  20. 1995
  21. 1995—2004
  22. 1999—2008
  23. 2001—2008
  24. 2003—2008

Only 35 years in the past 112, has the United States not been involved in some military action, with the longest period of no military conflict, 13 years, coming almost a hundred years ago between 1901 and 1914. The second slowest period of seven years came between the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts. During that period, nearly a half million, 431,820, US soldiers died and more than a million, 1,167,364, military men and women received wounds. The United States spent a cumulative time of 121 years either fighting or occupying in military actions around the world in military actions that often overlapped.

Views: 139

Tags: cowards, fighting, guns, killing, violence, war

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 3, 2014 at 9:24pm
Joan--Again, you demonstrate superior common sense, which us frightening to American used to being told what to think. Why don't Americans stand up against this foolhardy behavior? Like the late Neal Postman wrote in "Entertaining Ourselves to Death," our minds are distracted. Shopping has become the number one sport in America and educational TV is still a pipe dream. Under those conditions, we are lucky that our citizens can tie their shoes. The money we spend on the war machine in one year could wipe out poverty over night, but that is too easy. What we are doing on this page is subversive because we are actually thinking. An educated public is a dangerous public.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 3, 2014 at 9:15pm
Ted--you hit a sore spot. I majored in VA after I completed college until I was no longer eligible. It literally becomes difficult to kill game animals for food once you understand nature. As I said, I have multiple guns. For the most part, they gather dust except for skeet shooting and qualifying at the range. I would not be unhappy if I had no guns. They just aren't important to me. What I try to understand is gang violence, mass shootings, family homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. I want to know why the love affair continues despite the number of deaths attributed to deadly weapons? I know social conditions play a major role, but they are different for each category. So, somebody help list them.
Comment by Luara on January 3, 2014 at 9:33am

Ted,

You might enjoy Opal's diary.  It was written by a precocious little girl who grew up on a farm and had many animal friends that she gave names to.  Including a pig that was slaughtered. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on January 2, 2014 at 9:11pm

Donald, you demonstrate so clearly the patterns of USA involvement in fights, killings, violence, and wars. These actions, when looked at to understand the history and temper of the times, reveals a USA as a warlike, colonialist leaning empire, in spite of claims to be a nation looking for justice and peace. Far too many people died at the killing end of USA ballistic, bombs, and bullets for us to be able to claim justice motives. Using excuses with labels like "communist" and "socialist"  and "fascist" occurs too many times, it appears to me that USA has become that which it claims to hate: a fascist empire building nation.

The citizens remain quite! Why? Where is the outrage? Where are the limits to killing and destroying cultures? Has no one ever visited with people who are claimed to be our enemies? I have gone to place where we are supposed to be at war with the governments, and I find people who are interested in USA, who treat me with respect, and great kindness. The Chinese people were so very generous with me in the early 1980s. So were the Central Americans I visited. No sign of animosity. Why were we supporting killings? Am I so naive that I miss being able to see someone who I should kill? 

We, USA, and capitalist countries are coming to an end of a long history of an exploitive enterprise when others refuse to submit. Even if we have atomic and nuclear weapons, and drones that kill people as if they are on the computer game board, people still want to be in control of their own lives and lands. Don't we have enough land and resources on the north American continent to be satisfied; do we have to have control over others' oil fields, mineral rights, water rights and cheap labor?

I have this vision of each individual having a part to play in the production of goods and services, and each participating in the benefits of profits generated by those goods and services. There is no reason that wealth should flow to the owners of capital and poverty should flow to the owners of labor! That just does not make sense to me.

Ah! and that gets me to the role of religion in providing cover for capitalists even as people starve to death because of political policies put in place by the privileged. Preventing and discouraging family planning, missionaries going to foreign lands and putting foolish, irresponsible imperatives on them to multiply, or not to use condoms, or to kill homosexuals, just does not stand up to scrutiny.

Why are we passive in the face of all this evidence of stupidity? Why don't we stand up against tyranny of money-rule? Where are those who would stand with and for those who suffer? 

If we were a humanitarian nation, we would work with governments to find solutions to problems of famine, disease, oppression, domination, exploitation and neglect. Our wars do nothing to alleviate such suffering. 

Photographer Kevin Carter, famine

Photographer  James Nachtwey, neglected children 

Photographer Steve McCurry Afghan girl

Comment by Ted Foureagles on January 2, 2014 at 7:52pm

I got my first real firearm when I was about 9 or 10.  I saw an ad in the paper, rode my bike over there and bought a .22 rifle with 100 rounds of ammo for $10 -- rode home all proud with it across my handlebar.  The state of our family's economic situation at that time was such that the birds, squirrels, rabbits, opossums, and raccoons (plus one deer and one bear) were the only meat that we had.  I'd walk to town once a week scavenging pop bottles from the ditches to trade for a box of bullets (50 cents for 50 rounds), and on a good day a cold 10-cent soda of my own.

During the school year I hunted in the evening and on weekends, but during the summer I'd spend several days out in the woods until I had as much as I could carry.  When you spend a lot of time out like that you start to understand how everything else lives, and maybe eventually realize that you're no more important than the birds, rabbits & squirrels.  I got sick of hunting, and did it longer than I wanted to.

I started staying home more and raising rabbits & chickens for food, but that felt no more good -- maybe even less.  It was when we started raising pigs that I couldn't take the killing any more.  Pigs are fairly smart and personable, and take a long time to raise to meathood.  Over the course of their lives they became something like friends to a kid isolated out in the hills.  To slaughter a pig, at least the way my uncles taught, you winch it up by a hind leg as it squeals & thrashes.  Then you slit its throat and wait for it die by bleeding out.  That didn't seem to be any way to treat friends.

I'm not a vegetarian -- tried it once and thought I was gonna die.  And so I still indirectly kill to live.  I enjoyed some wonderful meatballs at a friend's house on New Year's Eve and didn't give a first thought to the dead cow.  Hell, for that matter my vegetarian sister kills a lot of things in maintaining her lawn.  I don't hunt -- haven't for several decades and am not sure that I still could if I had to.  The only firearm I own now is Grandma's old homemade 12 gauge that lacks a nail for a firing pin.

Almost every other American male that I know has multiple firearms, no few of them military grade.  One neighbor has a pair of M-60 machine guns, complete with strategic bunkers.  By the time I joined the Army I was long over my gun fetish.  My squirrel hunting skills easily qualified me for sniper duty, but I declined.  Had it been a couple of years earlier in the heat if Vietnam I wouldn't have been allowed to decline.  I'd have had to sit up on some hill, draw a bead on a human being and drop him like a rabbit.  Just by accident of birth date and some hiding out from Nixon I didn't have to do that.

I guess I was pretty lucky overall, barely skirting my own involvement in my violent country's wars.  My Dear Nephew, now 17, expressed interest in joining the military.  The recruiter painted a pretty picture of getting an education and seeing the world, and it was not entirely false.  I got what little education I have on the GI bill, and at least got to see Seattle.  I told him that if he signed on he was also signing up to kill on demand, and that he had to accept that moral trade for what the recruiter offered.

Comment by Luara on January 2, 2014 at 5:13pm

Let's hope they never make anatomically correct guns. 

Or a gun that is electrically connected to the appropriate brain areas. 

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 2, 2014 at 3:59pm

Guns are Viagra to some men. A phallus. Testosterone replacement. Penis envy! Erection Helper like Hamburger Helper. For most men, probably not, but for some it is better than sex especially if you are deficient in the "package" department. LOL

Comment by Luara on January 2, 2014 at 1:17pm

Violence of guns is self-reinforcing.  People get ideas from those news stories about shootings.  Also, people are harmed by gun violence and seek revenge by gun. 

Ending the war on drugs would stop a lot of the violence. 

Comment by Luara on January 2, 2014 at 1:13pm

viagra replacement?  You mean the advent of viagra might bring peace to mankind? 

I say "mankind" advisedly. 

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 2, 2014 at 12:11pm

Luara--you bring up some good points. I own guns and have always owned them. No big deal. I used to hunt once upon a time, but gave it when I returned from the army and knew what killing was all about. I couldn't do it anymore for game I didn't eat. I still hunt, but it's called skeet shooting (clay pigeons). I've never given a shit about my guns one way or the other. I just have them. One is a 100 year old Remington that belonged to my father and his father. I wouldn't want to part with that. It is also my favorite skeet gun. I've never feared anyone coming to take my guns, take over the country or come gunning for me. If the government decided to do that, guns aren't going to be much good against a drone attack. Hell, one seal could take care of all the gun-toters in one night and they'd never see it coming. But back to what you said, I'd like to know also if there is something in particular that generates this gun culture and violence besides a viagra replacement.

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