American Killers 126

For those of us who grew up thinking of American culture as related closely to our own, it is quite hard to come to terms with the fact that there is a very substantial strand to US popular culture that makes it a danger to the entire world, and requires a dedicated worldwide effort at containment and reorientation.

If you have any doubt of that, just read the comments here in the LA Times. We know Perry is an arse, but look at what LA Times readers “think”. And remember the LA Times is at the liberal end of the spectrum, insofar as the US has one.

There are more Americans locked up in jails than citizens of any other developed country. Unfortunately, largely the wrong ones.

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126 thoughts on “American Killers

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  • Ben Franklin

    Americans are no more morally/ethically deranged than any other people. We have our share of psychopaths (statistically 2-3 percent of the population) and they probably spike those numbers in the military because such are drawn to occupations with a license to kill. As to commentators; these are news junkies drifting from acrimonious blogs. Stories like this one get linked and cross-posted across the breadth of political channels. They are not representative of the population, as a whole.

    Please don’t disappoint with an imperious and superior attitude.

  • Leo

    These comments were in the LA Times. Compare and contrast reader’s comments in the Guardian or even the Daily Telegraph to those that Craig highlighted and you will see that he is not being imperious or superior. Indeed, the rapid degeneration and brutalisation of American culture and education is terrifying to watch.

  • Franz

    The comments in the LA Times don’t seem any worse than those in the average Guardian or BBC online discussion. Unfortunately.

  • Franz

    PS Also remember that psy-ops are working overtime at the moment. A lot of comments on the Web are planted by people being paid to influence public opinion – for reasons that aren’t too hard to figure out.

  • kashmiri

    I wouldn’t use the word “culture” here. We on the Old Continent have learned – through centuries of painful experience – to maintain emotional distance to the political apparatus. Americans – without centuries of experience – still seem to see the politicians in the old feudal way: President is Fathers/Leader of the Nation and Chief Commander of the Army, and soldiers are those who sacrifice their lives for the Leader, ergo, the Nation. That’s why in U.S., like in the Soviet Union, you just DO NOT criticise the military. These are heroes.

    Naturally, there are intellectual elites there, too. But I’d be surprised if they spent their time commenting LA Times 😉

  • guest

    The UK is catching up at the speed of light. It won`t be long before you will not be able to tell the two apart, the decay of civilisation.

  • glenn_uk

    What Franz says is true. However, these comments are fairly typical – nobody would dare criticise the hallowed military if they didn’t want the right-wing punditry (i.e. virtually all of them) coming down on them. These multi-millionaire pundits and their wannabes will be tearing their shirts apart with outrage, although they’re quite silent when the same military gets crap service (poisoned food, getting electrocuted in showers, getting terrible healthcare upon return etc.) from war profiteering contractors such as Halliburton.
    This gets into the American psyche – it must be wrong to say a word against the troops, just like it would be wrong to criticise Israeli foreign policy.
    It’s obligatory to say, “Thank you for your service” to anyone who’s ever served. Anyone wearing a uniform no longer need buy their own drinks while on home-leave. They get applause from the fellow passengers on board aeroplanes. But they can be treated pretty miserably once discharged for combat stress or injury – no wonder Americans suffer so much cognitive dissonance.
    Don’t forget where all this starts – Americans are terrified of their own shadows. Anything that threatens them has to be killed without question or hesitation. They’re frightened of anything they’re told to be frightened about. So if the scarey frightening thing is being fought by “our boys”, you’re causing an even bigger danger by doing anything that detracts from these “heroes”. So you must be attacked. Otherwise, the whole thing might slip away, and before they know it, they’ll be in re-education camps run by Nazi-communists, be forced to wear government issue clothes, share their apartment with 10 other families and have to ride public transport – just like those impoverished, starving Europeans.

  • oddie

    it is frustrating that all the american alternative websites have ‘iran oil embargo delayed for six months’ stories up today, but not the following, which is most likely the reason; also could be the reason for the sudden announcement that the biggest-ever israeli/US military drill “austere challenge” to be held in israel has been postponed:

    9 Jan: Reuters: UPDATE 2-UAE delays oil pipeline to bypass Hormuz
    Pipeline seen operational by May, June, delayed from April
    The United Arab Emirates has delayed the launch of a crucial oil pipeline to bypass the Straits of Hormuz to mid-2012, which analysts said would add to supply worries at a time when Iran threatens to block the strait for all the Gulf’s oil….
    Flows through the strait are estimated at around 15-17 million barrels per day (bpd), or just under a fifth of global supplies, and a new pipeline would bypass it to carry most of the UAE’s oil, 1.5 million bpd, to global markets…
    Abu Dhabi government-owned International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) is undertaking the project, and China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corporation is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor (EPC).

    21 Nov 2011: Reuters: UAE pipeline to flow first oil in December -sources
    Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) holds a 60 percent stake in ADCO. Its other shareholders are BP, Royal Dutch Shell , Total, ExxonMobil and Partex Oil and Gas (Portugal).

  • crab

    “Americans are no more morally/ethically deranged than any other people. … Please don’t disappoint with an imperious and superior attitude.”
    Fine position as long as it is provided to Chinese, Iranians, Pakistanis, North Koreans, Mexicans etc. But are nations beyond relative scrutiny? What is the internal effect on American cultures of possessing such a unique level of imprisonment and war spending, fighting?

  • David H

    Do those comments say something about Americans in general or just about a certain type who think it’s funny / clever to be ridiculously abusive on the internet? Most of the outrageous comments were from one particular poster who was either a troll, a psychopath or a psy-operative. Would an intelligent poster bother replying to that?
    Makes me thankful for this blog – an altogether more human and satisfying encounter. Thanks everybody.
    Probably right what you say about Americans, though. You meet them outside of America and most seem OK but then you look at their politics and voting patterns and you realize that many of them who live there and probably never make it abroad have some pretty scary ideas. Take the build up to the Iraq war. There was quite a protest movement in Europe and The UK but you could hardly find a dissenting voice in The US at the time. And then they even RE-elected George W!

  • Ben Franklin

    “What is the internal effect on American cultures of possessing such a unique level of imprisonment and war spending, fighting?”

    Devastating. But who else will do it? Europe has had a free ride on our tails for 60 years. The reason they have such intricate social benefit is by virtue of having surplus cash to spend on non-military exigencies.

  • craig Post author

    I have had a look at the major UK media websites where they have comments open on the marines urinating on corpses issue. There is almost no evidence of the defence of such behaviour that dominates the LA Times comments.

  • Ben Franklin

    “I have had a look….”

    I respect your history, Craig, but I think your scientific study of one newspaper’s blog comment section is hardly a representative sample.

  • Leo

    @Ben Franklin
    ‘“What is the internal effect on American cultures of possessing such a unique level of imprisonment and war spending, fighting?”
    Devastating. But who else will do it? Europe has had a free ride on our tails for 60 years. The reason they have such intricate social benefit is by virtue of having surplus cash to spend on non-military exigencies.’

    Utterly outrageous. The USA has never, ever fought a defensive war unless you count defending itself against Mexicans trying to reclaim stolen territory, or fighting Japan after goading them to attack. The vast military spending is used only for wars of aggression and military conquest. Europe and the UK have perfectly adequate defences for their own needs – unless the USA turns on them next.

  • crab

    The article of the “Ballon Juice’s” comment thread notes:
    “and now it appears that conservatives have decided that desecrating corpses (heckuva job, CNN) and urinating on the dead should also be yanked off the list of things we all abhor. I wish I was surprised, but I’m really not. Fortunately, the military still at least is pretending to take this seriously.”
    And Craig wrote:
    “there is a very substantial strand to US popular culture that makes it a danger to the entire world, and requires a dedicated worldwide effort at containment and reorientation.”
    The trickiest thing is not establishing there is a problem with our most glamous cultural icons ugly moods, it is how to contain and reorient them, towards respect for the living near and far. While of course improving our own position in the league of hunter killer nations.

  • Mary

    Carnival Corp – Costa’s parent company… We are seeply saddened by this tragic event…impact on earnings will be $85-$95m …damage assessment will be undertaken….
    Glad to see where their priorities lie.
    (Sky News ticker)

  • Antelope Grazer

    There are more Americans locked up in jails than citizens of any other developed country.
    You don’t need the word ‘developed’ there, do you? In absolute numbers I don’t know if they have more than anyone, but as a proportion they’re way ahead of the rest of the world – over 1% of the adult population. Of course, if you’re black it’s a lot higher than that.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    I agree essentially, with this reservation.

    The great killers are really in the American government, especially those covert operators who arranged the assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK, Governor Wallace, John Lennon, and even looney Reagan himself particuarly through the means on “Manchurian Candidates”, and start all kinds of covert and overt wars to suit their objectives. The Reagan hit was unplanned blowback because of Chapman’s killing Lennon.

    This is most important to remember on MLK Day.

    The American public largely just goes ignorantly along with it because of the zenophobia that its leadership drums up, particularly to get elected to office. If it had a democratic political system, instead of one where money dictates the process, and determines who gains office, it would improve considerably.

  • Mary

    Danny Ayalon, dep foreign minister Israhell, is in London to speak to Chatham House. By rights and if we still upheld the principle of universal jurisdiction, he would have been arrested when stepping foot on British soil.
    Instead he was on Radio 4 Today, being fed the right war mongering questions by a very friendly Jim Naughtie.
    ‘Iran must be stopped’
    Israel is calling on Europe and the United States to intensify action against Iran, saying that “crippling economic sanctions” and diplomatic isolation would affect the way the regime behaves.
    William Hague, the foreign secretary, has been speaking about the dangers of the intensifying tension with Iran, saying that the crisis could destabilise the whole middle east.
    Last week a fourth Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated in Teheran and the government there have blamed Israel.
    The Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, outlines the view from Tel Aviv.

    Naughtie did not question him on the recent killing of the Iranian scientist and he almost swallowed his words when he referred to Israel’s nuclear stockpile. You could sense that he was embarrassed to be saying the words.

  • ingo

    Superiority breeds contempt, no doubt the same was true at the turn of the 18th. century, when the britsh empire had grown too big and was showing sings of disintegration. Far from me going for the old chestnut everyone learnt at school about, the troubled Boor war presented us with concentration camps and it was british soldiers that cut off the knackers of suspected MauMau INDEPENDEnce fighters, the problem lies with empires and their ruthlessness regrads control mechanismn.
    Thgis incident like many before show us that America has reached its cultural limitations, it is unable to deal with inhumane excesses such as this and the sodomising of young boys, its not prepared to apply international justice to its brainwashed and de humanised soldiers. This sad innevitability is the true sign of an empire on the slide.

    I also listened to Jim Naughtie’s pre chewed questions, you could almost hear the sucking noises. How dare does the BBC give prime time to these warmongers, the real instigators of strife in the ME, readying themselves to steal some more land I suppose. What a pathetic method, i.e. we wind everyone up and kill their scientists, then you come in, fight our war for/with us and we aqyuire lots more land when you leave for home.
    I’m afraid that this country has lost its mettle, is controlled and guided by the worst ziocons there are.

    Jim naughtie should have his sporan ripped off, replaced with a bloodied star of david for all I care. Sadly news reporting has been put in a box abnd it will be hard to cut through this bias thrown out by the MI’s.

  • DonnyDarko

    The Americans I meet when I visit the place I usually like.There are some aware of what US hegemony does to the countries it rinses with their version of freedom and democracy but most are oblivious to it.US crimes against humanity are not exactly covered by the MSM there.
    Full metal jacket,the film shows how human beings are dehumanised.
    The powers at be in the States do not want soldiers that can think for themselves.
    “Grunts” is the nickname for the the marines and it’s appropriate.The most brainwashed of all.I am pretty sure that peeing on your war trophies is one of the lesser crimes.
    The more mechanised the soldiers become ,the more inhumane the crimes will be by these unfortunate young men.
    I listened to a program last week where they were talking to US soldiers about their acts in Afghanistan and Iraq.It has been killing civilians with impunity for over 10 years and these soldiers armed to the teeth with their conscience temporarily out of order are capable of anything.They did regret their actions but were unable at the time to do anything about it. I’ve heard similar tales from IDF soldiers.We brainwash young men, order them to do terrible things and turn our heads away when they lose it altogether.

  • Rose

    Yes Mary – all those films and musicals – Carousel, Oklahoma,South Pacific et al were heady stuff for us then – and perhaps all that guff about romantic love did influence us a bit.
    I don’t think that any of the people I grew up with then took any of it really seriously though – how could the eternal sunshine, flip talk and benign adults in those films have anything to do with us living in post-war Britain? It was if we were anchored by the reality of eternal rain, grimness and dour adults who’d give you a back-hander if you ventured a quip (“I’ll teach you to show-off” rang round our house constantly in those days – though we never hung around for the lesson!)
    I’m not so sure my grand children are as immune though, when I hear their voices rise at the end of a statement sentence, and adopt even worse speech patterns and expressions from whatever foreign stuff they watch.
    Time to make media studies an integral part of the curriculum as well as George Orwell’s essay on Boys’ Weeklies published in 1939.

  • Brus MacGallah

    The daily mail can always give the yanks a run for their money. Try this little gem from htis morning.

    Scotland really should – fall on it’s knees and kiss the generous English hand that has been feeding it – and keeping it alive for 300 years. If these ungrateful whining and bleating people don’t want English cash any more – GOOD ! They should all vote ” YES ” in a referendum – and be gone. There has never been any real English interest in Scotland – they have just been a cross for us to pay for and bear – since some historic looney hooked us up with them in the first place. Up your kilt Scotland – start paying your own way for a change.

  • Leo

    Depends a bit where you come from and where you are going Brus.

    I emigrated 25 years ago and – because of my parent’s deaths and some shenanigans over inheritance – spent some time involved with the Scottish legal system. [One solicitor in Edinburgh refused to deal with me at all when I suggested that there was corruption going on, and you will be hard-pressed to find a solicitor in Edinburgh that is prepared to press a case against another, notwithstanding the blatant evidence.]

    So, really there are at least two Scotlands. The romantic one that Craig clings to, and many of us dream of; and the dominant factions – as everywhere else – made up of crony, often crooked, politicians, lawyers and bankers. These latter, I would suggest reflect the yankee influence which was not characteristic of Scotland until greed took over. Sadly now, they are in charge.

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