Vol. 11    No. 14
JULY 7, 2016
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                      So Much Violence!
I have been in a funk these days and what hasn’t helped my spirits is the level of violence that I am seeing in the news. And I have to emphasize
“seeing in the news.” There has always been a certain level of violence in the world. A lot of the organized violence, that is violence perpetrated
by nation-states or by militias or by religious groups, has gone on for centuries in Third World countries from Syria and Turkey to The Philippines
and every area and continent in between.

During the Cold War from the late 1940s to the late 1980s, that violence was often times financed through weapons sales by the Soviet Union or
the United States in their chess match for world dominance. We helped out Saddam Hussein and others in Iraq as a counter-point to its next-door
neighbor Iran. We helped out and trained folks like Osama bin Laden and the Afghan rebels in their fight against the Soviet Union, which had
invaded and occupied Afghanistan. The United States and the European powers have supplied arms to rebels trying to overthrow left-leaning
governments and to right-wing governments trying to put down insurrections. Many times, this has been done to make the world safer for U.S.
corporations to do their brand of business on their terms in the rest of the world. The U.S. intervention in Central American countries throughout
the 20th century is a classic example of that.

Military coups, successful or unsuccessful — like the recent attempt in Turkey — have routinely occurred in Asia, Africa and Latin America. And
if one dug deep enough, one could see the “invisible hand” of Western powers at work.

So there has always been a level of organized violence in the world. But what is relatively new is that the organized violence — or at least
violence promoted by organized groups — is now cropping up in Western countries. France, England and the United States have all experienced
mass terrorist acts perpetrated by or encouraged by ISIS or Al-Qaeda. It started with the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa and the bombing of
the USS Cole in Yemen during the 1990s, although there had been scattered incidents of terrorism in Western Europe from time to time. And it
was taken to a new level of violence when on September 11, 2001; Al-Qaeda terrorists flew three airliners into the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon.

There were Hollywood movies produced in the 1990s like Executive Decision and Air Force One that portrayed the potential crashing of airliners
into public buildings by terrorists. Did anyone check to see if any of these movies were in Osama bin Laden’s VHS collection?

The method of terrorist attack has evolved since 2001. Instead of sending foreign nationals to do the work, there are now citizens of the Western
powers who are perpetrating the terrorist acts, citizens who have either been trained by their own governments in how to kill large numbers of
people or who have been trained and gotten experience in war-torn Syria and Iraq. The unintended consequence of U.S. militarism — and those
unintended consequences are always harsh — has been that the U.S. has trained and in many cases equipped individuals and organizations that
have turned that training and equipment back against the United States. In that sense, the chickens always come home to roost.

I hate the violence. I believe in non-violence and the precepts of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community and world change must come
through the moral force that comes with non-violence. Non-violence is not a quick solution and violence is never a solution as one can see from
the recounting of history above. Violence begets violence.

During the past 20-30 years, the United States has promoted an extreme brand of individualism. Now I like individualism, don’t get me wrong. I
enjoy the privilege of producing this newspaper. I enjoy being responsible for what I do and reaping the rewards or the consequences of my
actions. But equally important is that the individualism occurs within the context of community, being a part of something larger than oneself.
Promoting individualism in a vacuum while tearing down our community institutions like government and religion leads to the destruction of our
civilization and the norms that keep violence and anti-social behavior in check. Tear apart the community fabric and you set free loose cannons
who perpetrate violence because they feel a connection to nothing. That is an unintended consequence of our ultra-individualistic society.
Isolation begets isolation. The chickens come home to roost.

I am also concerned with the impact of all of this violence on our political landscape. I keep hearing the phrase “Donald Trump is unelectable.”
Well I remember back in 1980 when people said the same thing about Ronald Reagan. And then the Iranian hostage situation happened and this
stoked the fears of everyday Americans.

Well all of this violence — foreign and domestic — is also stoking the fears of many Americans, particularly Euro-Americans. And it just might
drive them, especially Independents, into the waiting arms of Donald Trump. And they may just turn out in record numbers while doubling down
on voter suppression of voters of color and students and other constituencies who probably wouldn’t vote for Trump.

I fear for what this violence is doing to our society. I fear for what it will do to our freedom. We must believe in non-violence if we are to have a
better world for all of the world’s citizens.
Celebrating Each Other
The Capital City Hues' 10th Anniversary Celebration
in Photos