America’s Culture of Death

In the wake of another mass shooting, this one in Uvalde, Texas, there have been the standard, predictable calls for gun control. The idea is that if more stringent gun-control laws are enacted, there will be fewer mass shootings.

That’s simply ludicrous reasoning. When a person wants to kill a lot of people, he is going to be able to get his hands on a gun, even if he has to go into the black market to do so. After all, drug possession is illegal, and no one has any problem getting his hands on drugs in the black market.

Instead, what gun-control laws do is disarm the victims. The gun-control laws prevent them from defending themselves. Who wants to take the chance of a felony conviction for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon?

There are plenty of gun shows in Texas. Why didn’t that mass murderer choose a gun show to initiate his killing spree? Because he wasn’t stupid. Mass murderers traditionally look for gun-free zones to commit their mayhem. That’s because there is less chance of someone firing back in a gun-free zone.

But there is a more fundamental issue that I wish to address — the underlying causes of mass murders in America. Until we get a handle on that issue — why it is that there are so many such occurrences here in the United States — we will continue to experience them.

After all, there are lots of guns in Switzerland. In fact, most families are armed to the teeth. If widespread gun ownership was the cause of mass murders — as the gun-control crowd here in the United States claims — then we would naturally expect to see the same large number of mass murders in Switzerland that we do here. But we don’t. Unlike the United States, Switzerland is not besieged by a large number of mass killings.

The difference is that America has developed a deep culture of death through killings by the state. I submit that when a nation develops such a culture, it produces aberrant and violent behavior by people who are a bit off-kilter.

Whenever there is a mass killing, such as those in Uvalde, Buffalo, or Columbine, everyone is, quite naturally, shocked. How could anyone with a conscience do such a thing, especially to children? The killing shocks the conscience of any reasonable person.

Yet, when we consider the killing of people by federal officials, the reaction among the American people is completely different. There are few shocked consciences. The culture of death at the hands of the state has become a normal and regular part of American life. Hardly anyone gives it a second thought.

Immigration deaths

Consider, for example, America’s system of immigration controls. We have had this system since I was born more than 70 years ago. The way I look at it is that when a governmental system is producing deaths of lots of innocent people, it’s a virtual certainty that that is one no-good, rotten system.

And there is no question but that America’s system of immigration controls produces a massive number of deaths. There are people who have drowned crossing the Rio Grande, such as Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, whose bodies were found on the river’s shore. There are those who have died of thirst crossing lonely deserts in the American Southwest. There are those who have died of suffocation in the backs of 18-wheelers. There are those who have died from being shot by the Border Patrol.

It’s been estimated that in 2021 alone, almost 600 migrants died trying to enter the United States. That’s a lot of people, and most people believe it’s a low estimate. Imagine a mass shooting in which 600 people were killed.

Where is the moral outrage? It is virtually nonexistent. Deaths arising from immigration controls have simply become a part of America’s culture of death.

Drug-war deaths

Consider the drug war. That’s another government program that has produced lots of deaths from acts of violence. In fact, in Mexico drug-war deaths in the past 10 years number in the high tens of thousands. Imagine, once again, a mass shooter in the United States killing thousands of people. Imagine the uproar if that were to happen. Not so with respect to drug-war killings.

There are also all the deaths that take place among drug users who consume corrupted drugs in the black market. That wouldn’t happen if they were able to purchase their drugs in a reputable place, like a pharmacy.

Nonetheless, life goes on, and so does this deadly government program. The massive number of drug-war deaths does not shock the consciences of very many people. The drug war has become part of our national culture of death.

Invasion deaths

Consider the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, which succeeded in killing untold numbers of people. We don’t know the exact number because the Pentagon decided early on that they weren’t worth counting. Only American deaths were worth counting. Estimates of deaths range in the high hundreds of thousands. That’s a lot of dead people. Imagine if a mass killer here in the United States went on a killing spree in which he killed hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine how people would react.

But there was no such reaction to those deaths among most Americans. It was all considered normal. It’s part of our culture of death. We’ve all been ingrained with the notion that if our government officials deem it necessary to kill people, then that’s the end of the matter. We have all been taught to defer to their judgment.

Ironically, when it was Russia invading Ukraine, the reaction among Americans was totally different. As soon as U.S. officials began condemning the invasion, there was a massive outpouring of anger, outrage, and indignation among the American people, especially as a growing number of Ukrainians began being killed.

One of the interesting aspects of the U.S. invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq is how the mainstream press treated the deaths of foreign combatants and civilians. Whenever they would write articles about battles, they would operate under the assumption that killing foreign combatants was acceptable even if sometimes civilians were inadvertently killed in the process.

In other words, the killing of all those Afghan and Iraqi combatants was considered to be no big deal. After all, they were combatants, the argument went. They should never have resisted the foreign invasion and occupation of their country. They should have just accepted U.S. conquest and rule. The fact that they were killed was their fault, the reasoning went.

Yet, it is important to note that every one of those combatants had families and friends. Every death undoubtedly produced deep suffering and grief among those family members and friends.

NATO deaths

Consider what’s happening in Ukraine. When the Cold War ended, the NATO mission of protecting Western Europe from a Soviet invasion was now moot. At that point, NATO should have gone out of existence. Instead, unable to let go of its extreme Cold War, anti-Russia, anticommunist mindset, the Pentagon began using NATO to move eastward, absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact in the process.

It has now become clear that the Pentagon has been maneuvering into giving Russia another “Vietnam,” just as it lured the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan in 1979. For the past 25 years, Russian officials have been telling the United States that their “red line” was Ukraine. If NATO were to absorb Ukraine, that would entitle the Pentagon to install its nuclear missiles on Russia’s border, pointed at Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities. Russia’s position was made clear: It would never permit that to happen. To prevent it from happening, Russia’s officials repeatedly stated, Russia would invade Ukraine to effect regime change.

Knowing this, U.S. officials continued on course, knowing full-well that Russia wasn’t bluffing. In fact, it is now clear that U.S. officials have been training and arming the Ukrainian military for years in preparation for what they knew was coming — the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The result has been a massive number of deaths, not only among the Ukrainian military and civilians but also among the Russian military. Not surprisingly, there has been a tremendous amount of exaltation among U.S. officials and the mainstream press over the thousands of Russian soldiers who have been killed in the conflict. They call the deaths of those soldiers “degrading Russia,” which has obviously been the aim from the beginning.

But it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, every one of those Russian soldiers has family members and friends back home who have been left suffering and grieving the loss of their loved one. Second, the war was entirely unnecessary, in that there was absolutely no reason for NATO to absorb Ukraine or even to continue remaining in existence.

Invading Cuba

In fact, there is another reason why U.S. officials were certain that NATO’s threat to absorb Ukraine would cause Russia to invade Ukraine. That reason is that that is precisely what U.S. officials would do if Russia, North Korea, or China threatened to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, which is 90 miles away from the United States.

In fact, that is precisely what occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union, whose principal member was Russia, installed nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter against another U.S. invasion of the island or, in the event of another invasion, to defend against it. The position of the U.S. government was the same as the Russian position on Ukraine: Get those missiles out of there or U.S. forces will invade.

In fact, throughout the crisis, the Pentagon and the CIA were doing everything they could to pressure President Kennedy into doing precisely what Russia is doing in Ukraine. They were telling Kennedy that he could not permit communist-controlled nuclear missiles pointed at American cities to be installed only 90 miles away from the United States.

As I point out I my new book, An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, President Kennedy had a remarkable ability to put himself into the shoes of an adversary to determine what it was that was motivating him to act. Kennedy figured out that what the Soviets and Cubans were trying to do was prevent the United States from again invading Cuba in an effort to oust the Castro regime from power. He figured that if he guaranteed that the United States would not invade Cuba again, the Soviets would be willing to remove their weapons. His offer was accepted by the Soviets, except for one thing: The Soviets wanted the United States to remove its missiles in Turkey that were pointed at Russia. Understanding the hypocrisy of the United States’ position, Kennedy agreed to remove the missiles. The crisis was resolved.

That’s what could have been done in Ukraine to avoid all those deaths of Ukrainians and Russians alike. All that needed to be done to avoid the conflict was an agreement in which NATO would not absorb Ukraine. But unfortunately, Joe Biden is no John Kennedy. The result has been thousands of unnecessary deaths, including both Ukrainians and Russians.

Sanctions deaths

Consider all the deaths that have come from U.S. sanctions and embargoes. The sanctions against Iraq brought about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Yes, children! Recall the outrage arising out of the deaths of those 19 children in Uvalde. There was never any such outrage for the killing of those hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq. There is a simple reason for that: The killings of the Iraqi children are part of our national culture of death.

In fact, recall what Madeleine Albright said when Sixty Minutes asked her if the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.” At the time, she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. As such, she was our country’s official spokesperson to the people of the world. She responded that, yes, the deaths of all those children were, in fact, “worth it.”

Imagine that! By “it,” she meant regime change. The deaths of the Iraqi children from the sanctions were intended to induce Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to resign his position in favor of pro-U.S. Iraqi dictator. That’s why Albright said that the sanctions were “worth it,” even if they never achieved their goal.

Was there any public outrage in America to Albright’s statement, including by President Clinton and other federal officials? Of course not. That’s because most everyone agreed with her sentiments. So what if hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children had to die. Isn’t that worth regime change?

Consider all the suffering and death that have been inflicted on people in Cuba, North Korea, Iran, China, and elsewhere as a result of U.S. sanctions and embargoes. Any outrage there? Not in the least. It’s all just part and parcel of America’s culture of death.

Assassination deaths

Oh, and let’s not forget the federal government’s official program of state-sponsored assassinations, a program that came into existence when the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state after World War II. In the early days back in the 1950s and the 1960s, this deadly program was kept secret. Now, it’s mostly out in the open as part of the “global war on terror.” I say “mostly” because while everyone now knows that the program exists, many of the assassinations are still being carried out in secret, so as not to unnecessarily disturb the peace and happiness of the American people.

Recall Operation Condor, the top-secret international rightwing assassination ring in which the CIA secretly served as a partner. We still don’t know how many people were assassinated as part of that operation.

A culture of life and liberty

The assumption, of course, is that the massive culture of death and indifference has had no impact on America. But that is folly. How can a culture of death, destruction, suffering, and killing not adversely affect the people of that nation? Ultimately, it seeps into the fiber of society and infects the populace. Over time, most everyone becomes more tense, irritable, unfriendly, and unkind toward others.

But I submit that the biggest adverse impact of America’s culture of death has been among off-kilter people. I submit that there is a certain percentage of those people whose propensity for violence is triggered by the culture of death that the federal government has brought to our land and to foreign lands. When those off-kilter people initiate killing sprees for no ostensible reason, in their minds they are simply modeling what U.S. officials do both here at home and abroad. Their lack of concern for the value of human life mirrors the mindset of those who enforce the federal government’s assassination program, drug war, and war on immigrants as well as those who initiate America’s endless foreign wars, coups, and interventions.

As I point out in my new book, An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, what we need in America is a revival of consciousness and conscience, one that motivates the American people to rise up against the culture of death that pervades our land and that puts our nation back on the right road — the road of a limited-government republic — the road to liberty, life, peace, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world.

Reprinted with permission from The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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