Shootout at the USA Corral

The recent shooting at a political event in Tucson have finally focused discussions on the political rhetoric in this country. I admit to getting perverse satisfaction from watching the Right twitch and squirm as they’re forced to explain their use of violent rhetoric and imagery.

However, it is not just the Right that uses such tools. For example, many on the Right have found, and are using this from the Democratic Leadership Counsel of 2004:

Let us all face it. America is and always has been a land that idealizes violence. The rebellion that freed this nation from England also instilled in many Americans a belief that armed uprising is not only good but a basic right. As many have noted over the centuries, a lot of peaceful settlers simply moved to Canada, before, during, and after the Revolution.

Certainly the Candadians are aware of this. Here are some slightly dated but still useful comparisons of the US and Canada, courtesy the RMCP:

“Firearms: Canada/United States Comparison.”

I suspect most Americans just went with the flow. I know I did as a child. In America, Baby Boomers grew up watching a well-armed loner save the world. The Lone Ranger. I even saw some Quaker children wearing holsters and firing off cap pistols. Like the Long Ranger, they were the Good Guys and Good Guys fired guns–even if their mothers sternly warned them to NEVER EVER point a gun at another person.

In Canada, the Lone Ranger would have been an outlaw. Simply wearing a mask would have, I think, been a violation. The gun and silver bullets were, so to speak, overkill. Other gun-toting American heroes followed. From John Wayne to Clint Eastwood to Rambo, the righteous gun-slinger was THE American hero.

My childhood idealizations were shattered by the Kennedy and King assassinations, by Vietnam, and by the all too real shootings at Kent State. Now we have video games with violence far fiercer and more graphic than I would have believed possible only a few years ago. Is it surprising that this atmosphere also colors what passes for political discourse? The USA was never a peaceful country, now it’s just got better graphics and bigger speakers.

Alas, events from daily talk show rants to the shootings in Tucson give that old WWII patriotic song “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” a whole new meaning. Or maybe it’s time to re-watch Shootout at the OK Corral. But it’s not OK anymore, is it? It’s just USA.

Cassandra

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