America’s Culture of Violence

Stephen Lendman

Posted Sep 27, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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America’s Culture of Violence

by Stephen Lendman

What do you call a country that glorifies wars and
violence in the name of peace. One that’s been at war
every year in its history against one or more
adversaries. It has the highest homicide rate of all
western nations and a passion for owning guns, yet the
two seem oddly unconnected. Violent films are some of
its most popular, and similar video games crowd out
the simpler, more innocent street play of generations
earlier. Prescription and illicit drug use is out of
control as well when tobacco, alcohol and other legal
ones are included.

It get’s worse. It’s society is called a “rape
culture” with data showing:

—one-fourth of its adult women victims of forcible
rape sometime in their lives, often by someone they
know, including family members;

—one-third of them are victims of sexual abuse by a
husband or boyfriend;

—30% of people in the country say they know a woman
who’s been physically abused by her husband or
boyfriend in the past year;

—one in four of its women report being sexually
molested in childhood, usually repeatedly over
extended periods by a family member or other close

—its women overall experience extreme levels of
violence; an astonishing 75% of them are victims of
some form of it in their lifetimes;

—domestic violence is their leading cause of injury
and second leading cause of death;

—statistically, homes are their most dangerous place
if men are in them as millions experience battering by
husbands, male partners or fathers;

—for most women with children, there’s no escape for
lack of means and because male assailants pursue them
causing greater harm;

—adding further injury, its society is often
unsupportive; it affords women second class status,
privileges and redress when they’re abused so many
suffer in silence fearing coming forward may cause
more harm than help;

—its children are abused as well; millions suffer
serious neglect, physical mistreatment and/or sexual
abuse; many get relief only through escape to
dangerous streets; they end up alone, more vulnerable
and at greater danger away than at home where there,
too, families act more like strangers or predators
forcing young kids to flee in the first place.

What country is it where things like these are normal
and commonplace; where peace, tranquility and safety
are illusions; where they’re crowded out by foreign
wars and violence at home in communities,
neighborhoods, schools, throughout the media and in
core families.

What kind of country glorifies mass killing, assaults
and abuse; one that looks down on pacifist
non-violence as sissy or unpatriotic, yet claims to be
peace loving. It’s not in the third world, under
dictatorship or controlled by religious extremists.
It’s the “land of the free and home of the brave,
America the Beautiful” where human rights, civil
liberties, common dignity and personal safety are more
illusion than fact. More on this below.

War As “the Ultimate Economic Shock Therapy”

Mahdi Nazemroaya writes in his August 29 “War and the
‘New World Order’ ” article on Global that
war is “the ultimate (and most effective) economic
shock therapy (that can) change societies and reshape
nations,” and that America today is embarked on
achieving a long-standing vision for “global
ascendancy” and supremacy. For the Trilateral
Commission of “powerful” US, EU and Japanese “elites,”
its operative 1973 founding goal was a “New
International Economic Order.” For George HW Bush it
became the “New World Order,” and for GW Bush a
permanent state of war for global hegemony.

Nazemroaya writes America’s “foreign policy is based
on economic interests” with military might used to
enforce them. He states various US administrations
have pursued “An (unbroken) agenda of perpetual
warfare and violence (for) global domination through
economic means.” George Bush’s current “war on
terrorism” in the Middle East and Central Asia are
just “stepping stones” toward that “global order”
unipolar Pax Americana vision under which no nation is

It’s nearly always been this way in a nation addicted
to war and a culture of violence that’s as commonplace
at home as in foreign conflicts. It’s in our DNA, our
schools and reinforced through the media with
seductive symbols and slogans glorifying wars for
peace, their warriors, and righteousness of waging
them. They’re packaged as liberating ones, promoting
democracy, and spreading the benefits of western

We’re taught our essential goodness and what Edward
Herman calls our status as an “indispensable state”
that lets us do what no other nation may - wage
perpetual wars for an elusive peace in the name of
freedom and justice for all we preach but don’t
practice. We manipulate false notions of
exceptionalism and moral superiority giving us the
right to spread our ways to others while hiding our
darker imperial side delivered through the barrel of a
gun. It shames the notion of a “government of the
people, by the people, for the people.”

Expansionism and Militarism: An American Tradition

Expansionism has always been our way and militarism
our method. It’s been since winning the West meant
taking it from the millions there thousands of years
earlier. No matter. “Manifest Destiny” meant a divine
right for settlers only to enjoy the nation’s
“spacious skies….amber waves of grain….and purple
mountain majesties….from sea to shining sea.” Others
already there had to go, and mass slaughter was the

Our forefathers loathed Native Indians, and George
Washington showed it in his language. He called them
“red savages,” compared them to wolves and “beasts of
prey,” and aimed to exterminate the Onieda people who
aided him in his darkest hours at Valley Forge. He
also dispatched General John Sullivan and 5000 troops
against the noncombatant Onondaga people with orders
to destroy their villages, homes, fields, food
supplies, cattle herds, orchards and then annihilate
them and seize their land.

Hitler modeled his “Final Solution” on the “American
Holocaust.” He targeted Untermenschen (subhumans) and
Slavs he called “redskins.” We know what happened.
Raphael Lemkin called it “genocide” as he first
defined it in 1944 to mean:

“the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group”
that corresponds to other terms like “tyrannicide,
homocide, infanticide, etc.” Genocide “does not
necessarily mean the….destruction of a nation,
except when accomplished by mass killings….It is
intended….to signify a coordinated plan (to destroy
the) the essential foundations of the life of national
groups” with intent to destroy them. Genocidal plans
involve the disintegration of….political and social
institutions, culture, language, national feelings,
religion….economic existence, personal security,
liberty, health, dignity, and” human lives.

Throughout our history, it’s been our way, and since
1990, three US Presidents waged genocidal war in Iraq
to erase the “cradle of civilization” and remake it in
our own image. Two and a half million are dead and
counting from it, the country is plagued by
out-of-control violence, one-third of its people need
emergency aid, millions go hungry, and a once
prosperous nation is now a surreal lawless occupied
wasteland with few or no essential services like
electricity, clean water, medical care, fuel and most
everything else needed for sustenance and survival.
That’s the ugly face of “genocide” in real time.

Native peoples were its earlier victim. Puritans saw
them as “brutes, devils” and “devil-worshippers” in a
godless, howling wilderness filled with evil spirits
and “dangerous wild beasts.” They were targeted for
removal as settlers moved west. They cleansed the land
through violence, bloodletting and 40 Native Indian
wars from 1622 - 1900 to win the West, North and
South. Wars became our national pastime, and we’ve
waged them like sport ever since in an endless
unbroken cycle.

We fought four imperial ones as well from 1689 to 1763
with England, France, Spain and Holland. Throughout
the period, numerous settler outbreaks and
insurrections arose that were also put down along with
dozens of riots. Then there were the major wars we
know by name. First was the American War of
Independence (or Revolutionary War) from 1775 - 83. A
minority of colonists supported it, little changed,
and the outcome repackaged Crown rule under new

The so-called War of 1812 (to early 1815) was more
about American expansionism than Brits impressing our
seamen. “Manifest Destiny” then became a catch phrase
when Jacksonian Democrats proclaimed it in 1845 as the
nation’s “destiny” for all the land “from sea to
shining sea.” It was packaged as a noble mission,
propagated as ruling orthodoxy, and used to justify
other acquisitions.

We then headed south of the border from 1846 - 1848 in
what Mexicans called “la invasion estadounidense” that
easily self-translates as the US invasion. It was our
Mexican War that began after the annexation of Texas
and ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It
forced Mexico to cede half its country to avoid losing
it all in what’s now Texas, California, Arizona, New
Mexico, Nevada, and parts of Wyoming and Utah. The
country is still cursed the way former Mexican
dictator, Porfirio Diaz, meant when he said: “Poor
Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United
States.” Today that holds for all nations with a rogue
superpower on the march and liberty and justice
nowhere in sight.

Nor was it earlier when wars had similar aims as now
with one exception. The Civil War from 1861 - 1865 was
sort of a family squabble. Some squabble. Before it
ended, it was our bloodiest ever. Three million were
in it and over 600,000 died at a time the total
population was 31 million, including 4 million slaves.
That was double the battle deaths from WW II when 12
million fought from a population of 132 million, and
if the same proportionate number had perished it would
have been around 2.5 million.

Next came the Spanish-American War against Spain. In
1897, Theodore Roosevelt (as Assistant Secretary of
the Navy and later 1906 Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
wrote a friend….“I should welcome almost any war,
for I think this country needs one,” and the next year
it began. We won, they lost and America had its coming
out party on a world stage. A half century later, we
control much of it, want the rest, and plan, as a
birthright, to take it as disdainfully as our

The war with Spain was quick and little more than a
skirmish for three and a half months. It was our first
offshore imperial foray netting us control of Cuba as
a de facto colony for starters. Following the war,
Congress passed the Platt Amendment in 1901. It
granted us jurisdictional right to intervene freely in
Cuban affairs and ceded Guantanamo Bay (as a coaling
or naval station only) to the US in perpetuity
(provided annual rent is paid) unless later terminated
by mutual consent of both countries. It was just the

We also took the Philippines (slaughtering 200,000 of
its people), Hawaii, Haiti, Guam, Puerto Rico, the
Dominican Republic, Samoa, assorted other territories
later and the Canal Zone from Colombia to fulfill
Theodore Roosevelt’s dream to link the Atlantic and
Pacific with a canal across its isthmus.

Woodrow Wilson was reelected in 1916 on a campaign
promise: “He Kept Us Out of War.” He lied. He wanted
war and established the Committee on Public
Information under George Creel in 1917 to get it. It
turned a pacifist nation into raging German-haters,
America declared war in April, 1917 and was in it
until it ended in November, 1918. This writer’s dad
fought in France and returned unharmed. The US empire
was on a roll. 

Today, mainstream historians perceive Wilson as a
liberal Democrat. He was quite opposite, and his
imperial record alone proves it. He occupied Haiti in
1915 beginning 20 hellish years for its people until
Franklin Roosevelt withdraw US forces in 1934. He sent
US troops to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and in
1914 invaded Mexico, occupying its main seaport city
of Veracruz. It was a dress rehearsal for WW I and
might have become a full-scale war had Wilson not
pulled US forces out ahead of the greater conflict he
aimed for in Europe.

The defining event of the 20th century was WW II from
which the US emerged the only dominant nation left
standing. We became the world’s unchallengeable
superpower as though we planned it that way, which we
did. From it emerged our “imperial grand strategy”
under the Truman Doctrine as well as a plan for US
global military and economic dominance. The Cold War
began with “containment” the policy. The US empire was
on a roll and would never look back.

US Imperialism Post-WW II

When the Cold War ended in 1991, George HW Bush’s
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and undersecretary Paul
Wolfowitz were tasked to shape a new strategy that
emerged in 1992 as the Defense Planning Guidance or
Wolfowitz Doctrine. It was so extreme, it was kept
under wraps, but not for long. It was leaked to the
New York Times causing uproar enough for the elder
Bush to shelve it until the neoconservative think tank
Project for a New American Century (PNAC) revived it
in a document called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses:
Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century.”
It was an imperial plan for global dominance for well
into the future to be enforced with unchallengeable
military power. It became the blueprint for the “war
on terror” and all the hot ones planned to wage it.

WW II was more a beginning than an end to war. The US
kept Korea and Vietnam divided and targeted
independent-minded leaders. It was part of our
imperial designs on East Asia that included containing
Soviet Russia as well as China. It led us to incite
civil wars in Korea and Vietnam expecting both times
to prevail but were stalemated in one and lost the

North Korea’s Fatherland Liberation War began June 25,
1950 when the DPRK retaliated in force following
months of US influenced Republic of Korean (ROK)
provocations. It ended in an uneasy cease-fire July
27, 1953 and is still unresolved to this day. The
North and South are technically at war, the US refuses
to negotiate an honorable peace, and 57 years later
37,000 American forces are in the South with no
intention to leave.

Korea taught us nothing. Vietnam was next, and now
we’re embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan with a
potentially disastrous war looming against Iran. It
proves Ben Franklin right that “The definition of
insanity is doing the same thing over and over,
expecting different results.” Adventurism in Vietnam
began under Truman and Eisenhower supporting France.
It expanded full-blown under Lyndon Johnson and
Richard Nixon before ending in a humiliating final
pullout from the US Saigon Embassy rooftop April 30,

The 1980s brought more conflict with Ronald Reagan’s
war against “international terrorism.” He invaded tiny
Grenada in 1983 against a left-leaning regime for a
pro-western one we installed. Scorched earth proxy
wars then upped the stakes in Central America,
Afghanistan, Africa and the Middle East. We tread
lightly nowhere, and these conflicts left hundreds of
thousands dead and immiserated in the name of
democracy, humanitarian intervention, and the benefits
of western civilization by our method of choice - gun
barrels blazing.

GHW Bush then followed with Panama his prey. He
deposed its leader, then targeted Saddam for the only
crime that mattered - disobeying the lord and master
of the universe and its rules of imperial management,
especially Rule No. 1: We’re boss, and what we say

The Gulf war followed with 12 crushing years of
sanctions its legacy. They left 1.5 million Iraqis
dead and the living devastated. The current cycle of
permanent wars began post-9/11 in October, 2001. First
came the Taliban with Iraq ahead as the prime target
of choice. It’s huge oil reserves made it the most
sought after real estate on earth with a plan to seize
them simple at its core - a bold new experiment to
erase a nation and create a new one by invasion,
occupation and reconstruction for pillage. It would
transform Iraq into a fully privatized free market
paradise with blank check public funding for profit
but none for Iraqis for essential needs, a sustainable
economy or critical local infrastructure.

It’s been a disaster with the toll on Iraqis horrific
- an inferno of uncontrolled violence throughout the
country with new British O.R.B. independent polling
data estimating 1.2 million Iraqi deaths since March,
2003 on top of the 1.5 million others since 1990. The
war is now longer in duration than WWs I or II and
will likely exceed the latter one in
inflation-adjusted cost before it ends. It’s not in
sight thanks to a complicit Democrat-led Congress
that’s long on theater but short on action it can take
but won’t. Allied with the administration, it flaunts
public demands to end the war, bring home the troops,
and will shortly accede to another Bush supplemental
request for billions more in funding.

Public sentiment might be stronger if Jeff Nygaard’s
June, 2007 Z Magazine article titled “The Secret Air
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” got wider play, so
here’s hoping this article gives it some. He explained
US Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) posts its daily
“airpower summaries” online that makes for horrifying
reading “aside (from) the blatant propaganda.” Nygaard
explained “relentless” air attacks against Iran and
Afghanistan have gone on for years - on average 75 -
100 each day against both countries. It’s a huge
unreported story in the dominant media. The death toll
is unknown, he says, “but a reasonable estimate” is
between 100,000 - 150,000 in Iraq alone, and it’s
anyone’s guess in Afghanistan. That’s on top of all
other war-related deaths estimated in both countries.

Further, these attacks exclude “guided missiles and
unguided rockets fired….cannon rounds (and)
munitions used by some Marine Corps and other
‘coalition’ aircraft or any of the Army’s helicopter
gunships (plus) munitions used by the armed
helicopters of the many ‘private (mercenary hired
gun) security contractors’ flying their own missions
in Iraq.” If the true human toll were known, it might
be shockingly above the most gruesome current
estimates and growing daily.

The public has a right to know this, and Congress is
obligated to find out, tell them, cut off all funding
and end two illegal wars of aggression. Instead,
Democrats and Republicans back a further
administration aggression against Iran in spite of
silenced high level opposition to it. It may come from
two large nuclear-armed US carrier strike groups
conducting provocative exercises near Iranian waters
in the Persian Gulf and Eastern Medditerranean.

Washington makes no secret it wants regime change in
Iran, and time is running out for the Bush
administration to get it. For months, covert black
operations have been ongoing inside the country. It’s
aimed to incite internal ethnic and political
opposition, and CIA operatives have also been sending
Baluchi tribal warriors from neighboring Pakistan on
terror raids into neighboring Iranian areas. Now 350
British forces have been provocatively sent from Basra
to the volatile Iranian border, and the Pentagon
announced it’s building a US base and fortified
checkpoints nearby as well. General Petraeus also
implied to Congress he’ll act inside Iranian territory
to stop its “proxy war” against US Iraqi forces. In
the meantime, Iran claims Washington backs
Israeli-trained Kurdish Party for Free Life (PJAK) as
well as Arab, Azeri and Baluchi incursions inside
their territory to undermine its leadership, provoke a
response, and provide cover for a US attack.

Without a touch of irony, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker
and Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi held four
hours of face-to-face talks in Baghdad in May that was
the first official bilateral meeting between the
countries in almost three decades. It amounted to
nothing more than the usual US duplicity that pointed
to what’s now happening and likely to escalate.
Earlier, George Bush demanded and will soon get
harsher US-imposed sanctions through the Iran
Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 that’s designed to
strangle the country economically. He earlier signed
off on a commitment of economic destabilization
through media-driven propaganda, now heightened, as
well as manipulation of Iran’s currency and
international transactions. That, in turn, just
prompted Tehran in response to demand foreign energy
companies do business in euros and yen.

So far, it’s anyone’s guess what’s ahead with war a
real possibility. The Bush administration is pounding
Iran with menacing claims of meddling in Iraq and
covertly advancing a nuclear weapons program despite
having no proof of either. Whatever’s planned could be
devastating to the region (and world economy if oil
shipments are disrupted), and the kinds of options
being considered may cause dire unintended
consequences if the worst of them involving nuclear
weapons are used.

Bill Clinton’s 1990s Balkan wars took their toll
earlier at a time most people shamefully bought the
US-led NATO propaganda of a good war against a
demonized enemy and a well-intentioned intervention to
remove him. It divided and destroyed a country under
the guise of humanitarian intervention that provided
cover for naked imperialism. Most observers on the
left got it wrong and still don’t know NATO (meaning
the US) committed illegal aggression to expand into
Central and Eastern Europe.

The Balkan wars kept predatory capitalism on a roll
for more new markets, resources and cheap exploitable
labor by the same ugly methods of choice - wars,
subversion or coercion with “uncooperative” leaders
like Slobadon Milosevic playing fall guy. He ended up
abducted to the Hague and hung out to dry by the ICTY
US-run kangaroo court that silenced him (like Saddam
in Baghdad) so his secrets went to the grave with him.

So much for democracy in a nation stained by a
near-unblemished record of illegal aggression
throughout its history and in every post-WW II
conflict fought. The only exception was the so-called
1991 Gulf war. It was authorized, as required, by the
Security Council but only through bribes and
coercion. The US public opposed it until a lot of
Kuwaiti government PR massaging turned it around, and
the rest is history.

The Harmful Effects of Imperialism at Home

The price at home has been high as well with democracy
here just as fake as wherever we leave our imperial
footprint. Ordinary Americans are the losers.
Repressive laws and crumbling social services are
their reward for patriotism. Then there’s the military
and what’s diverted to fund it. Annual Pentagon
budgets are soaring with the FY 2008 DOD one calling
for an astonishing $648.8 billion plus an additional
$147.5 billion war supplemental and around $50 billion
or more now requested. The final total will likely top
out over $850 billion with the usual pork factored in
and Congress ready to authorize whatever more is

Then come the 16 US spy agencies and their secret
off-the-books budgets. CIA, NSA and the others get
tens of billions more without accountability. The CIA
is an especially out-of-control, rogue agency
accountable only to the President. Post-WW II, it
began intervening throughout the world covertly and
overtly. No dirty trick is off the table, and CIA
invented their fair share of them. It uses them
spying, fomenting and supporting wars, deposing
foreign heads of state, and now they’re in play on US
soil against American citizens. Noted academic and
administration critic, Chalmers Johnson, calls the
agency “the president’s private army” serving in the
same capacity as imperial Rome’s praetorian guard. 

The agency is secret and lawless, unaccountable to the
public, Congress or the courts with intelligence
gathering a sideline operation at most. Since it was
created in 1947, but especially now, CIA has an
appalling record of toppling democratically elected
governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and
other key officials, propping up friendly dictators,
and now snatching targeted individuals for
“extraordinary rendition” to secret torture-prison
hellholes from which many won’t emerge or ever get

It takes lots of cover-up and myth-building to create
the illusion America wants peace, is “beautiful,” and
respects the law and rights of people everywhere. The
truth is quite opposite abroad and at home where
essential needs go unmet and violence is a way of

It recently showed up in the newly launched Global
Peace Index’s (GPI) ranking of 121 nations. It was
prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an
international panel of peace experts from peace
institutes and think tanks, and the Centre for Peace
and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney,
Australia. It aims to “highlight the relationship
between Global Peace and Sustainability (stressing)
unless we can achieve” a peaceful world, humanity’s
major challenges won’t be solved. GPI ranked nations
by their relative internal and external “peacefulness”
using 24 indicators. They include its:

—military expenditures as a percent of GDP and
number of armed service personnel per 100,000

—number of external and internal wars including the
estimated number of deaths from them externally and

—relations with other countries;

—respect for human rights;

—potential for terrorist acts;

—number of homicides per 100,000 population
including infanticide;

—level of violent crime;

—aggregate number of heavy weapons per 100,000
population and ease of access to small arms and light

—number of jailed population per 100,000 population;

—number of internal security officers and police per
100,000 population.

The US was a shocking 96th in the overall rankings -
to the naive and innocent, that is. Norway, New
Zealand and Denmark scored best in that order while
Iraq ranked lowest followed by Sudan and Israel, that
should be a wake-up call for its supporters.

Violence in America - A Way of Life at Home and Abroad

This article began with a snapshot account of our
violent history and culture. So much is in our
communities and homes that it’s easy selling foreign
wars to people used to settling disputes
confrontationally, not calmly. It may start with
bloody noses in school yards or playgrounds. It’s then
made to seem commonplace in films and on prime time TV
where assaults, violent crime, murder and even torture
are everyday forms of entertainment. Then there’s
sports. The most popular ones involve contact, often
brutal, with one played on ice once described as a
fight with occasional hockey breaking out.

Television features sports of all kinds, the more
violent the better. Studies show nearly every home has
at least one TV set, and 54% of children have their
own in their bedrooms. They spend 28 hours a week on
average watching, double the time spent in school, so
they learn more about life through the media than
anywhere else. Before age 18, the average American
child sees 200,000 acts of violence on TV including
16,000 murders, and studies show homicide rates
doubled 10 - 15 years after television was introduced.

They also link the following potential adverse effects
to excessive media exposure:

—increased violent behavior;

—impaired school performance;

—increased sexual activity and use of tobacco and
alcohol; and

—decreased family communication among other negative
influences unrelated to violence. 

A National Television Violence Study showed two-thirds
of children’s programming had violence, three-fourths
of it went unpunished, and most often victims weren’t
shown experiencing pain. Even more disturbing, the
study identified nearly half the violence children see
is in TV cartoons. They’re most often portrayed in
humor with victims hardly ever experiencing long-term
consequences. There’s more:

—Unsurprisingly, it’s no different on the big screen
as film studios produce entertainment for theater
viewing and at home. 

—There’s a great, but unmeasurable, amount of
different types of violence online, including
pedophile cyber-seduction on unsuspecting, vulnerable
children leading to sexual assaults. 

—Studies show violent video games like Doom,
Wolfenstein 3D and Mortal Kombat can increase
aggressive thoughts, beliefs and behavior both in
laboratory settings and real life. They’re even worse
than TV or films because they’re interactive and
engrossing. They get players to identify with
aggressors since they act like them while playing.
These games teach violence. Many young people play
them often and parents allow it. It’s no wonder they
become aggressive and continue the same behavior later
as adults for real.

—Music also teaches violence. The Parents Music
Resource Center reports teenagers hear an estimated
10,500 hours of rock music between grades 7 and 12
alone or nearly as much time as they spend in school.
Entertainment Monitor reported three-fourths of
popular CDs sold in 1995 included profanity or lyrics
about drugs, violence and sex with some popular rap
artists’ music glorifying guns, rape and murder.

With this as backdrop after 500 years of belligerency,
it’s no wonder violence in the country and attitudes
toward it are out of control. The record includes
harsh private and government homeland crackdowns
against dissidents, labor, minorities, street
protesters, rioters, ethnic or religious groups and
others plus all the one-on-one confrontations as well.
For centuries, violence was monstrous against our
Native peoples and nearly exterminated them all. It
was used against black slaves as well with whippings,
other beatings, rapes, mutilations, forced family
separations and even amputations as punishment for
runaways. Post-slavery, the pattern continued, mostly
in the South, under forced Jim Crow segregation that
enforced white supremacy over blacks that played out
violently for those “stepping out of line.” 

A snapshot of recent data on violent crimes provides
more evidence. It comes from the Department of Justice
(DOJ), other sources, and shows the following:

—960,000 violent acts against a current or former
spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend and up to three
million women physically abused by their husband, male
partner or boyfriend annually;

—in 2001, more than half a million American women
(588,490) were victims of nonfatal violence committed
by an intimate partner;

—intimate violence is mainly a crime against women
accounting for 85% of these incidences;

—women are up to eight times more likely than men to
be victimized by an intimate partner;

—in 2001, 20% of violent crimes against women were
by intimate partners;

—up to 324,000 women experience intimate partner
violence during pregnancy;

—women of all races are about equally vulnerable to
intimate partner violence;

—women are up to 14 times more likely than men to
report suffering severe physical assaults from an
intimate partner;

—20% of female high school students report being
physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner
and 40% of 14 - 17 year old girls report knowing
someone their age struck or beaten by a boyfriend;

—in a national survey of 6000 American families, 50%
of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also
abused their children;

—studies show up to 10 million children witness some
form of domestic violence annually;

—over half a million women report being stalked
annually by an intimate partner while 80% stalked by
former husbands are physically assaulted and 30%
sexually assaulted by that partner;

—the FBI divides violent crime into four categories:
“murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape,
robbery, and aggravated assault.” It uses the
International Association of Chiefs of Police Uniform
Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s definition of violent
crime as involving force or threat of force. The
annual data show these crimes topped one million in
1975 and from the mid-1980s ranged from around 1.5 -
1.9 million annually;

—since 1975, annual violent crimes of murder and
reported rape ranged from around 100,000 - 130,000;

—Every year over the past century, 10% or more of
all crimes committed were violent ones; and

—More Americans killed other Americans at home than
the total death toll from all foreign wars in our
history combined.

Violence, of course, becomes ingrained in the culture.
It leads to crackdowns against society’s least
“worthy” victims of state-sponsored repression. It
made America the incarceration capital of the world
with over 2.2 million in our homeland “gulag” prison
system today, a greater number than in China with four
times our population and a history of governments not
known for gentleness toward those breaking its rules.
Here 1000 new inmates weekly join others locked in
cages, most for non-violent offenses. They’re
brutalized by prison guards and other inmates while
there and become more likely to exact revenge on
release for society’s unjust treatment. Many, in fact,
do and end up back in prison for longer sentences.

This kind of information and our national predilection
for violence isn’t taught in schools or explained in
the media. Instead we accept the illusion of “American
exceptionalism,” moral superiority, and innate
goodness in a nation chosen by the Almighy to lead the
world. That’s provided it’s by rules made in
Washington with people everywhere told accept them, or
else. Going to war, we’re told, is a last resort
choice and one never taken lightly. It’s to liberate
the oppressed, bring democracy when we arrive, and
target “national security” threats too great to
ignore. It takes powerful propaganda persuasion
convincing people to accept this, but it’s made easier
if they’re already predisposed to violence and
receptive to more of it. 

Five centuries at home and abroad add up to potent
conditioning, but the dangers were less threatening
earlier than now. Today’s super-weapons make older
ones look like toys. They leave no margin of error,
and if we slip up we’ll endanger what Noam Chomsky
calls “biology’s only experiment with higher
intelligence.”  Unless we confront the threat to our
survival from foreign wars and a violent culture
accustomed to them, we face what Albert Einstein and
philosopher Bertrand Russell warned 50 years ago
saying: “Shall we put an end to the human race, or
shall mankind renounce war” and a culture of violence
and live in peace because no other way is possible.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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