Violence As American As Apple Pie
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By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO –


David Koresh, religious leader of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

Is violence becoming as American as apple pie? Americans have perpetrated some of the worst acts of wanton violence to happen on American soil against their fellow Americans, whether we care to acknowledge it or not.

The awful shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that claimed the lives of six people and wounded fourteen others, is another blatant example of how complacent we have become as a society with tolerating and accepting violence as a lifestyle.

We need just look at recent history for some vivid reminders. Among the most memorable happened in 1994 with the Waco disaster where more than 80 men, women, and children lost their lives in a blaze of flames and a flurry of bullets. Both sides, the religious sect of the Branch Davidians and the FBI believed that more than 80 men each were exercising their rights as outlined in our Constitution.

Was that event a defining moment in contemporary American history? We seem to have had a litany of violent events that have called into question whether more and more Americans are dispensing with the rules of due process,  and resorting to violence to express or solve their grievances.

Two years following the Waco disaster, we had the bombing of the federal building. More than 160 unsuspecting men, women, and children lost their lives because some crazed former U.S. marine thought it fitting justice to take an arbitrary number of innocent lives as retaliation for those lost at Waco. In some sick and warped notion, Timothy McVeigh and his cohorts believed they were upholding some radical American principle in the American way.

A year later, two teen boys, feeling alienated, disenfranchised, unaccepted in a well-to-do suburban community plotted to kill some of their schoolmates and teachers. They succeeded in killing a number of them before taking their own lives.

These amazing acts were like bugle calls and blaring sirens, two teenage boys made us pause, and take notice, at least perhaps for a spell. But what about the litany of other school shootings that occurred in Pearl, Mississippi, Paducah, Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas. Fortunately, many similar plots such as those in Chimacum, Washington and West Palm Beach, Florida were found in time to prevent another senseless loss of life.

Could it perhaps be a turning point for us to seriously do something about the effects, glorification, and our endurance of violence has wrought as we reflect on these disastrous events?

Our penchant for violence is all around us. We appear to glorify violence in the acts of war, actual and deified in film, to professional and recreational sports in actual games and video games.

Has this appetite and indulgence of violence gone too far? Are the effects slowly coming home to roost in ways that we did not imagine?

There has been a constant unfolding of violence in the past few years since Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine, occurring in disparate locations without a respect of age, race, or ethnic origin. At the dawn of this century, the country was stunned by a six-year old first grader taking a gun to school and killing another because of a spat that happened on the playground the day before.

The incident was hardly four months old when we learned that three first grade girls in a small town were suspended from their school because their teacher discovered their scheme to kill a fellow classmate. The weapon of choice was undecided, but the selection was narrowed down to a gun or a knife. A crude map had been drawn of the site where the killing was to occur. We’re talking about first grade girls.

However, if that were not enough, the next day, two seventh grade girls in Florida, 12 and 13 years old, were charged with plotting to bludgeon and slash the throats of three of their rivals. Authorities discovered the stash of knives, batteries, and razors the girls had intended to use.

Violence As American As Apple Pie

U. S. Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head by a crazed gunman, Jared Loughner.

There have been shootings or attempted shootings in schools from grade schools to colleges throughout the previous decade and they continue at the dawn of this one.

Oh how we forget. Unfortunately, the shooting and journey of recovery for Congresswoman, Gabrielle Gifford, along with other innocent bystanders, has us concerned. But, for how long?

What will it take for us to heed the signs? To address those sociological problems that have made kids and young adults alike comfortable to commit violent acts as casually as they would in selecting to participate in a sport.

We can play the blame game. We can blame the divisive and incendiary rhetoric charged among our political leaders. We can attribute it on the gory violence brought into your family room by network and cable TV. We can blame the toy and game industry. We can attribute absent and reckless parents. We can attribute violent and crime infested neighborhoods and home surroundings. We can blame it on pandering politicians who lack the backbone to develop and pass powerful legislation as well as apply the laws already on the books to address illegal access to guns, screenings for mental firmness, etc.


Jared Loughner, suspect in shooting rampage in Arizona.

Yet, blame really isn’t the problem nor the solution.

We have to learn about Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage in Tucson’s entire motivation. But we understand that warped views about mental health and government problems are in the mixture.

How much more will it take for us to do something about it? Something meaningful, something real, something that will stem the tide of wanton violence that is in danger of redefining America.

Violence as American as apple pie?

Edited and Reprinted with Permission of


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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis
Janice S. Ellis, PhD, is an award-winning author. Her book, From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major book sellers. She has written a column for newspapers, radio, and now online, where she analyzes educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. You can see her writings on this website.

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