In a world growing ever more violent

In a world growing ever more violent

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

As the world watches next week, Republican delegates from throughout the country will assemble in Cleveland presumably to select Donald Trump to be their nominee for president in the November election. One week later, in Philadelphia, Democratic delegates will gather presumably to nominate Hillary Clinton to be their candidate.

While these formalities and the attendant pomp and circumstance will be transpiring, it would behoove the American public to consider the violent country their selected nominee will be preparing to manage and try to heal. 

In addition, the nominee needs to be ready as well to lead the entire free world over the next four years in addressing the horrible, continuing worldwide plague of violent and terrorist activities. 

In the United States alone, events of the past few months have been virtually unprecedented. Forty-nine people were murdered on the night of June 12 in Orlando by a single murderer apparently driven by ISIS terrorist ideology. The fact that it was committed by an apparently radicalized Muslim against largely Hispanic-Americans in a club frequented mostly by LGBT individuals only intensified the anger expressed by the friends and family of all the victims as well as the outrage of most Americans. 

This was followed last week by two race-driven incidents in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, where police officers responded to reported criminal incidents with extreme violence, murdering two African-Americans for allegedly posing a dangerous and imminent threat to commit criminal acts. 

As protests to the continuing racial attacks over the past 18 months continued to mount around the country, a disgraced African-American U.S. Army reserve marksman, returned from Afghanistan, sought to solve his sense of the growing racial gap in the criminal justice system by taking action in his own hands in Dallas. He wanted to settle personally the growing antipathy in America of blacks toward whites and in particular their resentment of the prejudicial attitudes many of them believe are exhibited toward them largely by law enforcement officers. 

Meanwhile, on an international stage violence continues without a break, aside from the continuing bloodbath in Syria and Iraq, which is both military- and civilian-focused terrorism. One week before the Brexit vote, Jo May, an anti-Brexit Labour MP, was murdered by a pro-Brexit citizen. She was the first MP to be killed since a Conservative Member of Parliament was assassinated with a car bomb by supporters of the IRA 26 years ago. Two weeks ago, 45 people were killed at the airport in Istanbul by radicalized Muslim terrorists. In March, 32 were killed in three terrorist attacks in Brussels by a reported ISIS cell. On the night of Nov. 13, 2015, a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks in Paris by radical Islamists killed 130 citizens. 

Within just the past two weeks there have been a series of incidents in Israel and on the West Bank. Among them: a young girl murdered in her bed; a rabbi and child killed while driving with his wife and other children as passengers; an older couple attacked while walking in Netanya; and a range of other acts by radicalized Palestinians that were thwarted. In addition, some Israelis sought to retaliate against other Arabs. 

With respect to the cause and reaction to this violence in the United States, two factors clearly continue to inflame the situation. First, there are more and more weapons readily available to obsessed, deranged, and/or sick people, yet Congress is unable to organize itself to accept its responsibility to address the need to control and restrict the access of guns to dangerous citizens. The political and financial intimidation that the National Rifle Association continues to wield vis-a-vis largely Republican members and aspirants is both daunting and horrifying. It is hard to comprehend that members of Congress actually returned to their home states and districts during their July 4 recess and were able to face their people having done nothing to restrict the availability of weapons. 

The other component that needs to be understood in considering the growing violence, at least in this country: The American people have watched a presidential political campaign unfold in which other candidates and journalists have been mimicked, marginalized, and embarrassed. They have tolerated watching women, Latinos, Muslims, and Jews be disgraced, disrespected, degraded, and bullied. As long as supporters of such speech cheer and encourage it, and their candidates refuse to criticize their behavior, why should anyone be surprised that the long history of violence in America is energized? 

If American leaders do not face these situations and problems head on, there is no reason to assume that the next four years will produce any constructive efforts to, solve the violence in the U.S. and around the world. As Edmund Burke said over 200 years ago, in somewhat more extended words, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

This call is as much a challenge to the leaders of both political parties as they consider the forthcoming election as it was for the Founding Fathers when Burke wrote it five years before the American Revolution.

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