Once too often, I’ve heard pundits claim that America is ‘the most violent country in the world.’ Weak on facts, some of them claim that cowboy ‘Westerns’ have contributed to what they regard as our ‘violent culture.’ Irrationally, they elevate murder to the status of a national characteristic. Absent from murder statistics, are meaningful comparisons to violence in dozens of nations throughout the world. There, murder is either government sponsored or committed by mega gangs, often euphemistically referred to as cartels.
If we seek statistics for violence at the national level, we might better search for it elsewhere—Syria, Somali, and Myanmar for starters. Their peoples don’t watch Westerns, but they experience live violence at a national level 24/7. The same is true in most of the Middle East, much of Africa, and Asia. In North America, Mexican drug gangs savagely torture, maim, and kill family members, including children. It doesn’t take a professional statistician to know that dozens of nations easily outrank America in the category of violence.
Surely the daily television news broadcasts demonstrate that America doesn’t have a monopoly on violence. If America were as violent as many people claim it to be, we’d be dodging bullets on our trips to supermarkets and, in light of terrorism, in supermarkets. Despite isolated incidences of violence in a nation of over three hundred million people, violence clearly is not an American national characteristic.
The current national ‘dialogue’ about the Second Amendment includes genuine concerns about armed criminal violence on the one hand and armed citizen defense against criminals on the other during on-the-spot encounters. On the surface, the two ‘camps’ are believed to be Republicans and Democrats. But partisans are incapable of rational debate. Party lines and truth are a contradiction in terms. The significant divide of any debate is between those who discuss issues rationally and those who discuss them irrationally. The latter are in the overwhelming majority. They are also among those who insidiously declare that ours is the most violent of nations as though that accusation were axiomatic. It is their prerogative to cite facts and their interpretation of them to support their position on the Second Amendment, but arbitrarily declaring that America is ‘the most violent nation in the world’ is disingenuous.
Direct criticism is healthy. Oblique criticism is not. Under the guise of a discussion on gun violence, that blatantly unsubstantiated statement is one of many strategies to bash America. What concerns me most about that ploy, is that so few Americans are aware of the distinction between jingoism and appreciation for a special nation.