The conclusion of a very interesting essay about political violence in America:
So what can we do about this tradition of violence? The remedy, in my opinion, should begin with recognizing its existence. Acknowledging our full and rather tawdry history of violence would be the first step toward doing something about it.
The United States has unpleasant chapters in its history; likewise, the American people have not always behaved in civilized, rational ways. If we face up to our history, confronting it head-on, we might be able to move past all our elaborate denials of our worst traits, our shared sins, our mistakes, our lies. To accomplish this as a people, however, requires something unusual, something remarkable; something even noble. It requires courage.
It requires us recognizing that American political violence is something that’s not just committed by the likes of Nathaniel Bacon, John Brown, Preston Brooks, or, allegedly, Jared Loughner. It requires us admitting that the violent deeds that flow so calamitously through our history were—and are—quintessentially American. In that sense, then, what we cannot face is that those who commit these terrible acts are not pariahs or maniacs, just as the acts themselves are not mere aberrations. What we truly cannot face is that violent Americans like John Brown and Timothy McVeigh and Jared Loughner are . . . us.”
— Glenn W. LaFantasie
Professor of Civil War History and Director of the Institute for Civil War Studies
Western Kentucky University