The week past in the U.S. has seen a spate of multiple killings. Moreover, incidents of road rage leading to murder are also increasing at an alarming rate. On Friday, the Eisenhower Expressway in President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago was closed for two hours in the morning because a man killed another driver and severely wounded a female passenger after an altercation. Here’s the shocker: a few hours after the expressway re-opened, there was yet another road-rage killing on it.
One obvious cause points to the new concealed-carry rules being promulgated by legislators permitting handguns in vehicles. Add to it delays caused by decaying infrastructure (closed lanes undergoing repairs and so forth) leading to frayed nerves and angry drivers. What’s more the constant killing at home and abroad seen on TV news serves to make it a commonplace instead of a horrendous act. And there we have it, an armed and ready time-bomb waiting to go off.
A new international study by the Legatum Institute ranks the U.S. at #33 in ‘Safety and Security’, behind all developed countries. It is no surprise for the situation is palpably worse than memory recalls. The U.S. is also ranked #15 in ‘Personal Freedom’ while Canada earns top place.
The almost daily multiple-killings recently, led this author to Wikipedia, which divides mass killings into several categories. One of them should give pause. In the section labeled ‘Religious, political or racial crimes’ eight events are listed for the U.S., all since 2012 except for an arson and firearm incident in 1972.
What has this administration done to precipitate an orgy of such crimes, seven in total and surpassed only by Israel, once secular though now, sadly, a haven of bigotry? The only difference from the past is U.S. involvement in multiple never-ending wars causing dreadful destruction, record disruptive displacements and civilian casualties — so many countries devastated in such a short space of time.
And so appropriately to a funeral: Uri Avnery the prominent peace activist, who fought for Israel’s independence and was severely wounded, once wrote (and I paraphrase). In those days no one wore a kippa. It would have been considered backward in a forward-looking socialist milieu. He decried the now bearded, kippa-wearing Israeli soldiers spewing religious hatred. The incident evoking his outrage was of a seriously wounded Palestinian lying helpless, denied medical aid while minor Israeli injuries were being tended to, and then being finished off with a shot to the head.
So was it a surprise to see a kippa-wearing black American president eulogizing the late Shimon Peres? Some leaders were wearing kippas, others not. The French president was certainly not, given France’s war on religious symbols. Suffice to say that religiosity, as opposed to private faith, polarizes diverse populations.
The aforementioned Uri Avnery, who knew Shimon Peres for decades, had a revealing and balanced article tracing his biography from the age of 10! It was written on September 23, just after Peres had the stroke that led eventually to his death a week or so later. Robert Fisk was less generous in Britain’s The Independent recalling the Qana incident and talking about wading through a stream of blood. He was there shortly after, and can not forget it.
Peace is anathema to war, and war begets violence. The sages have it right when they tell us: As we sow, so shall we reap …