This is America
Bradley Blankenship
Flag flys at half-staff at a plaza near City Hall in Milbrae, California in honor of the Texas elementary school shooting victims, May 25, 2022. /CFP

Flag flys at half-staff at a plaza near City Hall in Milbrae, California in honor of the Texas elementary school shooting victims, May 25, 2022. /CFP

Editor's note: Bradley Blankenship is a Prague-based American journalist, political analyst and freelance reporter. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In the wake of recent tragedies in the United States, I am reminded of a 2018 song by the American rapper Childish Gambino, real name Donald Glover, also a famous actor, entitled "This Is America."

That song and the accompanying music video shed light on the issue of guns and violence in America, as Glover at various points guns down innocent people while rapping and dancing – showing how nonchalant violence is in the United States. 

This song could not be more relevant. It's apt, just a week after 10 Black people were killed by a white supremacist domestic terrorist in Buffalo, and 19 elementary school children and two teachers were gunned down in Texas. Thus begins the usual genuflection of outrage, then "thoughts and prayers," followed by government inaction and ultimately a repeat of the same thing. 

Note that the latest shooting in Texas is about half a year away from being 10 years after the infamous Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It's 23 years after the Columbine High School massacre. Each of these events drew serious attention to the issue of gun violence; none of them were met with serious actions by the federal government. 

As one Columbine survivor, Craig Nason, said on Twitter, "Columbine survivor here. My oldest son just finished his first year of college. This is America. There is no end in sight for the steady cadence of mass gun violence we seem unwilling to ever address. A reality my peers could not have imagined on our worst day in April 1999."

The trend will likely hold, as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced that there will be no gun bill put to the floor for a vote. Schumer was quoted as saying that "Americans can cast their vote in November" on the gun issue, adding that Republicans would need to work with Democrats to craft legislation – which means it won't happen. 

Government inaction will keep the cycle of mass slaughter churning. It's an extremely predictable situation and one that's only a serious problem in one country: the United States of America, with its highest-in-the-world firearm to person ratio per capita. This issue, however, goes beyond mere gun control and has to do with the core of what America actually is. 

Some would like to attribute increasing instances of mass slaughter to disturbed individuals. But, every society has disturbed people but only one is plagued by mass shootings. In addition to being an outlier on gun ownership, the United States also has among the highest poverty rates of any developed country and is one of the most unequal societies in human history. 

The country has no public transportation, no universal health care, unaffordable prescription drugs, education and housing, crumbling infrastructure, no serious plan to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over one million Americans, no plan to deal with the epidemic of drug overdoses and no plan to deal with crippling inflation, in addition to no plan to address mass shootings or surging domestic terrorism. 

On the other hand, the United States is the world's largest military spender, the top global arms dealer, has police forces that collectively kill an estimated three Americans per day and has the world's largest prison population. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a press conference at Uvalde High School in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, 2022. /CFP

Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a press conference at Uvalde High School in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, 2022. /CFP

U.S. President Joe Biden, who is supposedly against "forever war" and in favor of police reform, put forward a budget proposal to raise the military's budget to a record high – despite the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan – and recently urged localities to spend COVID-19 funds on police and "crime prevention."  

Both of these institutions, the police and military, are sacrosanct in American society and are essentially immune from any and all criticism. They are funded without question, even if they are inherently violent and oppressive institutions – even to Americans. Violence is an integral part of society and worshipped in all significant cultural media, like films and sports. 

For example, Hollywood movies often depict grotesque acts of violence or serve as direct U.S. government propaganda since the Department of Defense has editorial control over films that depict the military. These films tend to portray Washington's adversaries as one-dimensional villains that are lesser than American protagonists. This promulgates stereotypes and biases that drive violence against minorities at home. 

Through the corporate-dominated state and media, Americans are shown that violence is not only the first option to address problems, whether real or perceived, but truly the only one. Take the Department of State as an example. 

In comparison to its vast budget, the U.S. spends almost nothing on diplomacy or education relevant to learning about other cultures. This is seen through American foreign policy, which is opposed to negotiations or diplomacy of any variety, only seeks hostility and militarization – and depicts this behavior as virtuous.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends