An(other) American Tragedy

There has been yet another mass shooting by a disgruntled young white man in the States. This time it was an 18-year-old who walked into a grocery store in Buffalo yesterday afternoon and proceeded to kill 10 people, 9 of whom were black, and injure 3 others, 2 of whom were black. It has been discovered that he posted a racist manifesto online, and that he live-streamed the shootings. It sickens me to think that there are people who willfully, and maybe even gleefully, watched this massacre.

Hate crimes of this sort have become commonplace in the U.S. I saw a little bit of “Meet the Press” this morning and the only black man on the panel, Rev. Al Sharpton, sensibly suggested that President Biden should call an emergency meeting with leaders from the Asian, Black, Latinx, Jewish, and LGBTQ communities since these are the minorities being targeted. He also made the extremely salient point that the young shooter in Buffalo was an impressionable 15-year-old when he heard his president, the highest authority in the land, say that there were good people on both sides of the Charlottesville rally.

I then listened while two white members of the panel decried this latest tragedy, then ended their denunciations with the completely ridiculous claim that such acts are not representative of their country. “This is not America.” Oh, but it is!

I get so frustrated when talking heads on American TV repeatedly roll out the old trope that the U.S. is the greatest country in the world, and that these deadly acts of hatred are anomalies, despite their increasing frequency and ferocity. It seems as if even the most educated among them are so thoroughly steeped in unquestioning patriotism that they dismiss, or choose to willfully ignore, the many international markers which undermine their position.

America is pretty far down the list of several key indicators of national “greatness”. They rank 27th in social mobility, which puts paid to the so-called American dream that anyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and 25th in education. (Just as an FYI, Canada ranks 14th and 6th respectively on these lists.) They do rank first on the number of guns owned by private citizens, outstripping the next country two to one with a whopping 120.5 firearms for every 100 people. They also pay more for healthcare per capita than any other developed nation, surpassing the nearest country by 25%, and they lead the first world in maternal mortality rates.

Nothing will, or even can change in America until they manage to get past their self-perceived superiority. Sure they are denouncing Putin now, but let’s not forget that 20 years ago they breached the border of an autonomous country and proceeded to kill an estimated 300,000 innocent Iraqis in an unjustified and illegal war. And this differs from the current situation in Ukraine how?

I have always maintained, and will continue to do so, that pride is the worst deadly sin. America is a living example of the dreadful cost innocent people pay when it goes unchecked.

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