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"Violence Is in the DNA of American Society": Henry Giroux on Gun Violence and Administration Agendas

Monday, February 19, 2018 By Allen Ruff and Henry A. Giroux, A Public Affair | Op-Ed and Audio Segment
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Donald Trump holds up a replica flintlock rifle awarded him by cadets during the Republican Society Patriot Dinner at the Citadel Military College on February 22, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo: Richard Ellis / Getty Images)Donald Trump holds up a replica flintlock rifle awarded him by cadets during the Republican Society Patriot Dinner at the Citadel Military College on February 22, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo: Richard Ellis / Getty Images)

How should we think about the recent gun violence in Parkland, Florida? How do we understand the ascent of Donald Trump as part of a longer trend? What does the coming administration portend? And what is the way forward? Allen Ruff is in conversation with radical social critic and educator Henry Giroux. In this interview, Giroux discusses his recent Truthout article, "The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump," and how the corporate media influence US society. Giroux also argues that the US does not have a democracy in crisis, but rather a democracy that has disappeared.

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

Below, Henry Giroux elabaorates:

In the face of the ongoing mass shootings of children -- from those killed at Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School to those killed last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School -- it is not just the gunmen who have blood on their hands. The other culprits are the politicians bought off by the gun lobby, and a culture of violence that profits by militarizing everything and turning mass entertainment into a spectacle of violence.

But here is another example: "60 Minutes" ran a story on the push by the gun industries and others to get the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed in the Senate, having already passed through the House with Trump’s approval. "60 Minutes" ran the story as if there are just two sides and actually gave more time to the pro-gun types who believe that everybody in the US should have a concealed weapon and should be able to cross state lines and act with as little government interference as possible.

Shame on "60 Minutes." This is advocacy and complicity regardless of how you play it. This episode represented a new low for the media who buy into this nonsense. The notion of balance is no excuse for having blood on one's hands by advocating morally reprehensible and potentially violent behavior as if it were just another story line. This is a moralism soaked in blood and moral depravity. "Balance" is really code for being irresponsible in the face of a sordid, cruel, violent and morally reprehensible policy. Guns do not protect people; they simply say loud and clear that the only way to solve a problem and define your identity is through violence. Capitalism breeds incredible misery, evil, greed and violence in its single-minded pursuit of profits. In this case, it does so at the growing expense of the lives of children. We are in the midst of an authoritarian state that emboldens tyrants, politicians for hire and rewards a silence that translates into a murderous act of complicity.

Fortunately, young people are refusing to be silent about state violence, corporate violence and the growing culture of violence in the United States. They are standing up, making their voices heard and refusing to be written out of the discourse of democracy and social and racial justice. They are refusing the violence that accompanies a politics of disposability. They are refusing to be viewed as excess, collateral damage as a byproduct of the NRA and arms industries. The young people in Parkland, Florida, are saying "No" to being voiceless and "Yes" to undermining those cowardly politicians like Marco Rubio and Rick Scott who are lackeys of the gun industry and the NRA. They don't want prayers in the face of the ongoing mass shootings taking the lives of young people on a weekly basis. They want justice. Hopefully, we are in the midst of a generational revolt that is going to reclaim the promises of a radical democracy.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Henry A. Giroux

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016) America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017) and American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism. Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website is www.henryagiroux.com.

Allen Ruff

Allen Ruff is a US historian and an independent writer on foreign policy issues. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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"Violence Is in the DNA of American Society": Henry Giroux on Gun Violence and Administration Agendas

Monday, February 19, 2018 By Allen Ruff and Henry A. Giroux, A Public Affair | Op-Ed and Audio Segment
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

Donald Trump holds up a replica flintlock rifle awarded him by cadets during the Republican Society Patriot Dinner at the Citadel Military College on February 22, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo: Richard Ellis / Getty Images)Donald Trump holds up a replica flintlock rifle awarded him by cadets during the Republican Society Patriot Dinner at the Citadel Military College on February 22, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo: Richard Ellis / Getty Images)

How should we think about the recent gun violence in Parkland, Florida? How do we understand the ascent of Donald Trump as part of a longer trend? What does the coming administration portend? And what is the way forward? Allen Ruff is in conversation with radical social critic and educator Henry Giroux. In this interview, Giroux discusses his recent Truthout article, "The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump," and how the corporate media influence US society. Giroux also argues that the US does not have a democracy in crisis, but rather a democracy that has disappeared.

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

Below, Henry Giroux elabaorates:

In the face of the ongoing mass shootings of children -- from those killed at Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School to those killed last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School -- it is not just the gunmen who have blood on their hands. The other culprits are the politicians bought off by the gun lobby, and a culture of violence that profits by militarizing everything and turning mass entertainment into a spectacle of violence.

But here is another example: "60 Minutes" ran a story on the push by the gun industries and others to get the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed in the Senate, having already passed through the House with Trump’s approval. "60 Minutes" ran the story as if there are just two sides and actually gave more time to the pro-gun types who believe that everybody in the US should have a concealed weapon and should be able to cross state lines and act with as little government interference as possible.

Shame on "60 Minutes." This is advocacy and complicity regardless of how you play it. This episode represented a new low for the media who buy into this nonsense. The notion of balance is no excuse for having blood on one's hands by advocating morally reprehensible and potentially violent behavior as if it were just another story line. This is a moralism soaked in blood and moral depravity. "Balance" is really code for being irresponsible in the face of a sordid, cruel, violent and morally reprehensible policy. Guns do not protect people; they simply say loud and clear that the only way to solve a problem and define your identity is through violence. Capitalism breeds incredible misery, evil, greed and violence in its single-minded pursuit of profits. In this case, it does so at the growing expense of the lives of children. We are in the midst of an authoritarian state that emboldens tyrants, politicians for hire and rewards a silence that translates into a murderous act of complicity.

Fortunately, young people are refusing to be silent about state violence, corporate violence and the growing culture of violence in the United States. They are standing up, making their voices heard and refusing to be written out of the discourse of democracy and social and racial justice. They are refusing the violence that accompanies a politics of disposability. They are refusing to be viewed as excess, collateral damage as a byproduct of the NRA and arms industries. The young people in Parkland, Florida, are saying "No" to being voiceless and "Yes" to undermining those cowardly politicians like Marco Rubio and Rick Scott who are lackeys of the gun industry and the NRA. They don't want prayers in the face of the ongoing mass shootings taking the lives of young people on a weekly basis. They want justice. Hopefully, we are in the midst of a generational revolt that is going to reclaim the promises of a radical democracy.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Henry A. Giroux

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016) America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017) and American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism. Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website is www.henryagiroux.com.

Allen Ruff

Allen Ruff is a US historian and an independent writer on foreign policy issues. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.