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The sad reality and hypocrisy of American violence
Last week, a young man named Adam Lanza went to a local elementary school armed with automatic weapons and killed 20 little children and six of their school teachers, one of whom was his own mother, and then committed suicide.
A few weeks back, another American suicide killer, Jacob Tyler Roberts, murdered two people in Oregon before taking his own life. And, in September of this year, another American suicide killer, Andrew Engeldinger, murdered five co-workers at a Minneapolis business and then took his own life.
These American suicide killers are not a new phenomenon and are not as rare as Americans would like people in the Middle East to believe. There are more victims of gun violence in the United States each year than in the Middle East, which Americans love to portray as the world’s capital of suicide murder.
American suicide killings and mass murders occur so often that by one count, there have been more than 61 similar acts of carnage since two high school students dressed up in long black coats like action heroes in a popular but violent video game called “Doom” in April 1999 and murdered 13 people at their high school in Columbine, Colorado before committing suicide.
In some cases, the American suicide killers were described as being mentally ill, although not all were. One might argue that anyone who murders innocent people for any reason from personal rage to politics or even religion, is mentally ill. But unfortunately, Americans don’t rationalize the murders committed by Arabs and Muslims the same way they rationalize and deliberate about murder by suicide killers who are American.
For example, one could argue that Osama Bin Laden was mentally ill, someone who was so disturbed that he believed that killing nearly 3,000 innocent people on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York, 10,000 miles from where he hid in a barren cave in Afghanistan was a religious act of faith.
Bin Laden might be an extreme example. Yet the mainstream American news media which is intentionally biased always describes acts of violence by Arabs and Muslims as “terrorism.” They never call shootings by American suicide killers acts of terrorism.
Americans will argue that Arabs and Muslims commit acts of violence in the name of their religion, usually blaming Islam. But I would counter that it is just as logical to conclude that these recent acts of mass murder are committed by American suicide killers who may not share a religious zealotry, but they do share a corrupted form of cultural zealotry.
The recurring and record-setting violence by Americans is both terrorism and driven by people with a mission founded in their culture. Americans embrace violence not only in their daily lives, but in their everyday culture. It is in their movies, books, games, television shows, children’s games and in their news media.
In fact, the American mainstream news media is an industry that is built on selling violence. “If it bleeds is leads” is a mantra of the American news media. American motorists always slow down to check out the victims of traffic accidents on US highways. In fact, American highways are clogged with traffic jams so often because of this cultural phenomenon that they have a name for it: “gapers block.”
Americans scream about the violence of other countries, labeling Arabs and Muslims as the worst offenders, but it is all politics. In reality, more people are killed by handguns and weapons on the streets of America than are killed in all of the Arab countries combined, including during the frequent mini and regional wars.
Americans love guns. They embedded the “right” to own guns into their Constitution. In fact, it was the second most important amendment to the US Constitution, and is called “the Second Amendment.” The First Amendment is the American right to freely accuse others of wrongdoing while remaining silent about their own lack of moral compass, ethical fortitude and hypocrisy. It’s called “free speech” but in America, it’s not free to everyone, only to those people who reflect the image and beliefs of the “majority” culture.
It must feel strange for Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East to witness all these American suicide killings and massacres, and listen as Americans brush them off as the result of some aberration. At the same time, Americans point to similar acts of murder in the Arab and Muslim worlds and, with judgmental certainty, conclude that the violence is “cultural” and “inherent” in the lifestyle of the Arab people and in the Islamic religion.
Violence is a sad reality of human nature. But worse is the way in which some cultures excuse their own violent acts while condemning the violence of others.
— Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com