When ever mass shootings or other incidents of terrorism (domestic or otherwise) hit the United States, the outpouring of sympathy from Russia and indeed from the wider world is always palpable, in spite of the current state of political relations. Russian culture in particular, is one where expressing sympathy at a time of objective tragedy and pain, is highly emphasised, both on a humanitarian and spiritual level.
But there is another element of the aforementioned reactions to uniquely American tragedies, among people outside of the United States that is less straightforward. As a country of immense wealth and one which exercises an exceptionalist foreign policy, one which still confounds some geo-political adversaries of the United States, many find it shocking that so many American citizens decide to kill one another in large numbers, in a land that is promoted as supremely idyllic by Washington’s propaganda machine.
In this sense, there is an element of cognitive dissonance, among a wider world seeing tragedies unfold in a country where such things are ‘not meant to happen’, but nevertheless, often do happen.
Among many Americans and certainly among those whose narrative is embraced by the mainstream media, the wider world’s cognitive dissonance is somehow lost in an ever pervasive exceptionalist attitude whereby Americans elevate their domestic tragedies to the level of a cataclysm, while the deaths caused by the United States in the wider world, are reduced at best to the level of statistics and at worse, to the level of a macabre achievement.
Take for example a segment on the popular Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. On a recent episode, female comic writers and the celebrity Miley Cyrus greeted Hillary Clinton with fawning letters of appreciation, complete with a physical embrace. Many US based pundits, even those opposed to Hillary Clinton’s politics, have failed to grasp the geo-political subtext of the display.
Many are correctly criticising the television stunt as a propaganda exercise in identity politics, which seeks to pit female Americans against male Americans, with the subliminal message being that most American men were supporters of ‘big bad’ Donald Trump while the cognitively superior American women was for ‘kind gentle’ Hillary Clinton. In a land of the First Amendment, identity politics cannot be censored, but should be peacefully countered by others using their own free speech to argue for policy based, rather than identity based politics.
But the bigger geo-political problem present in such a vulgar display, is that Hillary Clinton is neither kind nor gentle. She was the architect of the most devastating of all the post-9/11 US led wars on foreign countries. Hillary Clinton’s ‘brainchild’ was the war on Libya which turned the richest country in African history, where people were freely housed, fed and whose education and vocations were generously subsidised, into a blood-soaked failed state. The once secular and independent Libya is now the world’s largest terrorist training camp, in which several political factions are fighting each other and local terrorist groups as well as various piratical factions are for Libya’s resources. While Syria is winning the war against terrorism and Iraq is slowly recovering with help from Iran and others, Libya shows few signs of any meaningful change from the post-2011 status quo for which Hillary Clinton is directly responsible.
This is just one of Hillary Clinton’s many disastrous policy making decisions, but it is the most profoundly horrific. Whereas even Barack Obama, who ultimately signed off for Hillary Clinton’s plans, has somewhat atoned for the disaster, Hillary Clinton instead was filmed laughing about the death of Libyan revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi. She continues to stand by her feeling of pride in the barbaric death of a man who led the nation she obliterated.
While Hillary Clinton was the author of the Libyan tragedy, she is not the author of America’s wider psychological tragedy. Instead, she is merely a profoundly grotesque symptom of America’s inability to empathise beyond its own borders, even at a time when countries like Russia show compassion towards Americans slaughtered in the United States and in the case of the Las Vegas massacre, likely slaughtered by a fellow American.
The United States has killed millions outside of its own borders in devastating and primarily illegal wars, none of which were related to the security of the people in the US. A recent research project from James A. Lucas has concluded that since 1945, the United States has killed over 20 million people and this does not include the deaths caused by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, the only instance of a nation using such weapons on civilians. When one accounts for the numbers of families destroyed, lives ruined, famine created and bodily mutilation inflicted by US military action, the numbers grows even higher.
The culture of violence within the United States is ultimately dwarfed by the culture of violence promulgated by the US military on the wider world. In some parts of the world, any sympathy that people would otherwise feel for Americans killed in domestic horror shows, is becoming exhausted because of the continued violence that the United States perpetuates abroad.
The scary part of this entire spectre is that many in the United States are unaware of what their country does abroad. The fault here lies in the narrative that most US politicians and all of the US mainstream media proliferates, one which perversely proffers the hypothesis that Americans are hated abroad because of their supposed domestic freedoms, rather than because of overt acts of aggression conducted by US armed forces from East Asia, to Europe – South America to North Africa.
Increasingly, while the US is doing nothing to change its reputation as the primary global aggressor of the modern era, many people are looking at the repeated tragic events inside supposedly ‘free’ America and thinking that this ‘freedom’ doesn’t look particularly appealing.
The United States is becoming a place that no one wants to live with and fewer people want to live in. Some people blame American policy makers for this disaster and of course the blame lies with them. Others, myself included, also blame America’s drug culture for fanning the flames of violence, all the while, making people comfortably numb to the grizzly scenes around them. Others question America’s gun laws, although I personally don’t. Many countries have a high proliferation of guns, legal and otherwise, but few have become replicas of the most gruesome facets of modern US life.
The problem with the United States, is an attitude problem that prioritises exceptional arrogance with exceptionally bad exposure to the facts of the wider world. Until this attitude changes, Americans will not know the meaning of real empathy and real sorrow, even as tragedy continues to unfold. A nation constantly at war, cannot hope to find internal peace. In this sense, having celebrities embrace a war criminal like Hillary Clinton, sends the message that Americans will have to live with the violence they have spread elsewhere, until people in the United States find the courage to condemn all violence, no matter where the victims might be.