Armed to the teeth

July 02, 2022

Increasingly, it seems, Americans have an anger problem. All too many of us now have the urge to use name-calling, violent social-media posts, threats, baseball bats, and guns to do what we once did...

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Increasingly, it seems, Americans have an anger problem. All too many of us now have the urge to use name-calling, violent social-media posts, threats, baseball bats, and guns to do what we once did with persuasion and voting. For example, during the year after Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, threats of violence or even death against lawmakers of both parties increased more than fourfold. And too often, the call to violence seems to come from the top. Recently, defendants in cases involving extremist violence have claimed that an elected leader or pundit ‘told’ them to do it. In a country where a sitting president would lunge at his own security detail in rage, I guess this isn't so surprising anymore. Emotion rules the American political scene and so many now tend to shoot from the hip without even knowing why.

Increasing numbers of us, however, respond to the growing extremity of the moment by avoiding the latest headlines and civic engagement, fearful that some trauma will befall us, even by witnessing ‘the news’. As a psychotherapist who works with veterans and military families, I often speak with folks who have decided to limit their news intake or have stopped following the news altogether. Repeated mass shootings in places ranging from schools to houses of worship combined with the increased visibility and influence of militias at theoretically peaceful demonstrations can be more scarring than the wounds soldiers once sustained in combat zones.

I must admit that my family and I have sometimes practiced a similar form of political avoidance. Recently, I considered taking my two young children to the March for Our Lives gun-control event on the National Mall in Washington. However, my spouse, an active duty servicemember, urged me to reconsider. If extremists showed up, it might prove difficult for me alone to get our children out of danger. I thought better of it and stayed home.

In a country where a Republican senatorial candidate can run an ad featuring himself with an armed military tactical unit on a residential street, urging Americans to hunt ‘RINOS’ – Republicans in Name Only, or those who criticize Trump – without widespread censure from his party, I believe my family's fears are well founded.

The question ‘What if something happens?’ at a protest would never have occurred to either my spouse or me when we first met more than a decade ago.

Excerpted: ‘Armed to the Teeth, America Has an Anger Problem’. Courtesy: Commondreams.org



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