Frequent contributor to this blog, Microdot, stated yesterday:
Perhaps Europeans have the onus of living in their own history that is far removed from the romanticized version of American gun eroticism. It’s very painful trying to formulate and organize intelligent logical ideas about America and violence.
I suppose the question that arises from this statement is: How and why did America move so far away from their European brethren on gun issues?
Here’s my 2¢. Europe suffered two ugly and devastating World Wars on their own soil, in their own backyards. Our involvement was ‘over there.’ Sure, we suffered a Civil War, but that was not on the grand scale of the European theater. Additionally, ours was romanticized and distant. Theirs was ugly and recent, relatively speaking. My German relatives would not speak of WWII when I visited with them on several occasions. The killing, the blood, the bombed-out houses and buildings and the hunger are still etched in their memories. Only our returning vets experienced this and, upon returning, many chose not to share them with family. And it was not their own villages that lay in ruin afterward.
Another factor which may add to the discussion is our American pioneering history. The gun not only ‘won the west’ but the old Northwest as well [Ohio westward]. Native Americans understand this well. Early TV shows glamorized the gun with endless Westerns showing the good guys blasting the bad guys. Today, evening TV drama shows invariably include guns and murder as entertainment. Then there are the movies and the video games. The gun reigns supreme in 21st Century American entertainment. Then again, the NRA promotes and guards gun ownership in America whereas, in the EU, stringent gun control laws prohibit this type of lobbying.
Let me posit one further differentiation between the culture of America v. that of Europe. As many right-wing pundits have charged, Europe is a ‘socialist’ configuration. The United States is not [despite the delusion of the far-right]. How does ‘socialism’ play into this discussion? Does the European ‘safety net’ reduce the number of seriously disturbed and angry males in their culture? Here right-wingers bitch about taxes, yet in many countries ‘over there’ the tax rate is above 30% for most working people in addition to VAT rates. And what benefit does the citizen gain from these taxes? Universal health care for one. And a social safety net for another. Add an inexpensive and two-tiered educational program for a third benefit. Few children in the EU ‘fall through the cracks.’ Europeans take care of their own, especially their children. How comforting it must be to know that the youth of Europe understand that society has their backs.
These are three factors that I see that clearly divide the citizens of Europe from U.S. citizens. As America looks for answers after the murders at Sandy Hook, might we look to our European ancestors for help?