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Cohen: How the United States became a republic of death

Among Americans, death attracts mass sighs and shrugs — as if viruses and guns were the natural order of things. The genocide is regrettable and accepted.

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On May 12, the United States marked a tough milestone. Since 2020, 1 million people have died of COVID-19.

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On May 15, 10 people were killed in a shooting in Buffalo, New York.

To observe the first, President Joe Biden ordered the White House flag to fly half-mast. Congress observed a moment of silence. Politicians expressed anger and sadness.

To observe the second, Biden went to Buffalo, where, as usual, he was a national mourner. The president remembered the dead and comforted the bereaved family. Politicians expressed anger and sadness.

Both had rituals about them. Among Americans, they had a sense of necessity — as if viruses and guns were the natural order of things — a collective sigh and shrug. The genocide was unfolding as it is done in various ways in the United States. Destiny was regretted and accepted.

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This has made the United States, figuratively, a country of mourners, eurogists, crepe hangers, and businesses. Americans are content with death, whether due to a pandemic or a regime of gun violence.

Eventually, COVID-19 disappears, followed by another murderous illness from another corner of the borderless world. The United States may or may not treat this crisis differently.

But gun violence never goes away. In fact, in today’s country, you could buy almost three times as many guns as in 2000. With more guns (400 million) than people (334 million) and growing economic instability, Americans can be expected to continue killing. Each other like no other on earth.

What about American characters who are in love at night? Why is the country willing to accept the level of illness and death from guns? Why is this the wealthiest country in the world and happy with technology and innovation? These are questions to moralists and theologians. A Civil War historian called America the “Republic of Suffering” and claimed more lives (600,000) than anyone else in the history of the country.

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Of course, Americans don’t have to die with the numbers they have from COVID-19. In other countries, the death toll was much lower due to different ways of managing pandemics. They closed the border, stayed home, wore masks, and welcomed the vaccine.

These are some of the reasons Canada has about one-third the mortality rate of the United States. Canadians were willing to accept precautions, but they were slow, clumsy and incomplete. Americans weren’t.

This is not because we are morally superior. That means that as a society, we have obeyed institutional authority and are ready to accept the public interest. Whatever our skepticism and distemper, public health was more important than personal freedom.

One analysis of Australia’s relative success in dealing with pandemics is one-tenth the mortality rate in the United States, “Australian life-saving traits from the top of the government to the hospital floor, the United States. People show that they are lacking: trust in science and institutions, especially in each other. “Many Americans trust science, their institutions, or their leaders. not. Because of their beliefs and philosophies, they refuse to act cautiously. This explains why the official death toll is one million and probably much higher.

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The same applies to gun violence. Other countries do not tolerate the actions of the United States. Buffalo shootings have been more than 200 shots so far this year, following 693 shots last year, with more than four injured or killed. Gun violence is less in Canada, which is considering stricter gun control. The same applies to Japan, Europe and other developed countries.

In the United States, the reasons are the constitutional right to own a gun and the accessibility of guns accepted by courts and politicians. But above all, it’s an urge to violence, whether it’s Will Smith, who soothes Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, or a villain like Buffalo, who steps into supermarkets, churches, and cinemas to start filming. ..

Once a seat of life and freedom, the United States is now a republic of death.

Andrew Cohen Journalist, Professor at Carlton University, and author for two days in June: 48 hours of history with John F. Kennedy.

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Cohen: How the United States became a republic of death

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