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In America, a country that refuses to examine its values, the show's the thing

Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 12:01 am

“Soap and education aren’t as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.”

Amid the endless babble that passes for commentary on the latest episode, the murder of 26 children and adults, of America’s most popular and longest running reality show — pictures of anguished victims, somber authority figures, reporters feigning concern, police armed to the teeth trying to look busy and important, with the same script: “Why?” “Mentally deranged.” “No one could even imagine such a thing.” “Senseless violence.”

One thing is for sure: There will be no commentary on American values, on a culture that profits from death, celebrates injustice, practices torture, wages endless wars, spies on its citizens, forecloses on cancer patients, its streets littered with broken dreams, hungry children, food laced with poison, beauty ripped open to make a buck, citizens dying from lack of health coverage while lawmakers enjoy the best in the world, and the list goes on and on.

The president of the United States rains death on the innocent on a regular basis, sending drones to foreign lands that kill defenseless children, 178 at last count. Where is the outcry about that? Author Chris Floyd says “The reality of children being torn to shreds by drone bombs at the order of a Democratic president is no less evil than children shredded by ... the worst psychopathic child-murderer.”

Every week the president selects with impunity human beings he wants to murder. Few will call him mentally deranged, or troubled, as the stars of the show almost always are. Fewer yet will ask why. No media will stand at the site of a Pakistani child killed by an American drone and ask why. No one will say, as a recent study confirmed, violence is contagious. Violence begets violence.

No one will call John Boehner mentally ill because he is fighting to make his employers, the filthy rich and the filthy polluters, even richer at the expense of the sick and the elderly. His proposed cuts to Medicare will plunge thousands to the brink of despair and early graves.

President Obama, not to be outdone, is now offering to sacrifice Social Security so the rich can get richer, not because Social Security is part of the problem. His spokesperson, Jay Carney, said just last month, “Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit. That’s an economic fact.”

We elect these guys of our own free will!

To many, Boehner and President Obama represent the best that “soap and education” have to offer for so-called civilization. For the president’s “achievements” Time magazine named him Person of the Year at this time of greatest poverty since the Great Depression.

Who but a psychopath would want to create even more poverty? Our leaders refuse to address poverty, to come up with policies that feed hungry children, that provide jobs, and violence is the standard mode of operation.

In Waco, Texas, in 1993 President Bill Clinton sent tanks of flaming death into a compound, killing 82 Americans, including children. Bill Clinton now parades around the world posing as a humanitarian and makes a fortune. His secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, said famously about U.S. sanctions in Iraq resulting in the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children that “the price was worth it.”

Albright is not alone. The U.S. Army in Afghanistan says it is acceptable to kill children. And Albright recently received the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Freedom. But a medical doctor in New York who started a foundation to help the victims of the sanctions was dragged out of his house at gunpoint to face a prison sentence.

According to Sarah Sloan of the Iraqi Sanction Challenge it is Albright who “should be on trial in front of an international war crimes tribunal instead of receiving an honor.”

Many Americans profit from carnage here and abroad, including members of Congress who take money from makers of assault weapons and drones and then vote against banning assault weapons and drones.

At the age of 20 the killer had already decided his life was hopeless. He would never get the multimillion-dollar contract for hitting a little white ball with a wooden stick or walk the red carpet. So he takes it out on his mother and the young who represent everything he is not: hope of a life where dreams come true. His dad is an executive at GE, a war-mongering company that pollutes, outsources jobs, makes billions, pays no taxes and gets government handouts, values mainstream media is paid to defend and promote.

So when one of their own kills, he’s mentally ill. If a person of color had shot up that school, he’d be called a terrorist. His mother lived off a huge yearly divorce settlement. His older brother is a successful businessman, and then there’s Adam, a recluse, living with his mother, armed to the teeth, taking her son target shooting, probably feeling like a failure in a town teeming with success.

He stopped communicating with his father when his dad remarried a couple of years ago. What’s it like to be a nobody in a somebody world? When that nobody is a child of privilege from a broken home, the result I think is arrogance mixed with feelings of abandonment and dependency. In his case a lethal mixture. And instant fame.

So one day soon another young man filled with rage, fueled by dreams of grandeur, inspired by Adam’s rampage and by the violence of his government, will wake up and say, “This is the day. Today is it. Today is when I go and kill and let me try for more than 26. I will star in the latest episode” of the series that includes a young man who entered a mall in Portland, Ore., “on a mission to kill as many as possible”; a man on an Indian reservation who killed three, wounded his own young daughters and died in a shootout with police; the man who gunned down patrons at a coffee house in Seattle.

And we all remember the big rating-getters: Columbine, Virginia Tech, the movie theater in Colorado. Anywhere, anyplace, anytime. We mourn the victims, none more than the children and the hero teachers who defended them with their lives, but we vote for people who attack the teaching profession and would like to replace the passion of these teachers with robotic subject material. Caring about others is the highest of human virtues but the most threatening to those who value nothing but money and the influence it buys.

Given our obsession with wealth and violence and the ruined lives it leaves in its wake, it’s not surprising that 34 Americans are shot to death every day and that some experts estimate one out of three American children are abused. Our response is to reward enablers like the president of Penn State with a million-dollar payout.

This is not a peace-loving nation that honors the innocence of children. My heart breaks at the sight of those parents and the horror they are experiencing, and the little children who survived will carry this memory the rest of their lives. But it also breaks for my country that just refuses to examine its values. As long as the silence continues, the carnage will never rise above the level of entertainment. In America, the show’s the thing.

Terry Doran is a resident of Fort Wayne.