Greetings and Salutations.

I got an interesting comment on a thread on Facebook that I had commented on a few days ago.

My comment was this: “I just heard, on Beau of The Fifth Column, a letter from a cop in Norway. He and his partner had received a notification of some loud conflict going on. As they were walking up to the couple, they were listening and watching to try and get an idea of what was going on.. The couple was a man and wife. They were both African-American. They were arguing (as couples do), over how his insulin had gotten left at home when packing. (I am sure the language was not that polite) As the cops approached the couple, the guy noticed them. He IMMEDIATELY stepped back, put his hands up over his head. . In short, the guy was in fear for his life, and the cop was writing to ask how to handle that reaction. Beau’s advice was that the first words should be “Relax…we are not like American cops!”

How have we screwed up so badly that THIS is the image of America that the world sees?

Well, one of the comments posted in response to mine was this one:

“I have some friends coming here from various countries in Asia. For most all, I have to persuade them that not every American carries a gun and that most of us walk all over with little fear. The views of many in the world about America is very sad and I am not sure how the perceptions can be repaired.”

This is a bit of a difficult question to answer, but I thought I would take a stab at it.

  1. America does, alas, have a gun culture as one of the basic realities of the society. However, by acknowledging this fact, and addressing the concerns, it may help.
  2. The reality IS that at least 60% of Americans do not carry on a regular basis. Off the top of my head, no more than 10% or so DO carry when leaving the home.
  3. A majority of gun owners are very responsible people, who are fully aware of the damage a gun can do, and, as such are reluctant to draw it out. Even when they do, though, they are careful to only threaten a specific target.
  4. As the questioner points out, America is, in general a very safe place. In my 68 years of life, I have only had one or two instances where I felt I was in danger…and none of those were in the stereotypical locations. Granted, I am an old, white guy, so, I tend to look like “part of the tribe” where ever I go…and do not run up against the prejudice of “The Other” that can cause problems.
  5. A vast majority of Americans are friendly, helpful people, who do not allow their prejudices control their actions.

Before I continue, I will point out that America DOES have a serious gun-related violence problem. Far too many shootings, sometimes leading to death, occur in the States every day. I address this issue in other essays about our culture of violence, red flags, and gun control. Now then…where do these preconceptions about America come from?

  • Media. Police procedurals take up a huge percentage of broadcast/cable shows. Most of these are less about the accurate depiction of police methods, and more about an adrenal pumping drama, with chases and shoot outs.
  • Another failing of the media is that they hype up the number of gun-related crimes in America. Add to that the narrow focus reporting on both pro and anti gun groups, and it can begin to feel as if one is taking one’s life in hand simply by walking down the street to the coffee shop on the corner.
  • Look, for example, at the reporting on school shootings. While these are, without question horrific tragedies, from the massive focus by the media, one would think that there are dozens of high casualty school shootings every day.
  • Movies. American cinema is consumed daily on a global basis, and in huge numbers. Movies, like most media, understand that an action packed film, with close calls, and a lot of gunfire will garner more paid tickets than, say, a more cerebral film such as “My Dinner with Andre” (Which, by the by, I strongly recommend watching…)
  • Podcasts and media commentary. Every time there is a mass shooting, it becomes fodder for analysis by these groups. They often use worrisome language to keep eyes on them, and may spin their analysis to fit their agenda…not a simple evocation of the truth.

Along with some of the options I mentioned before, if these folks would give a more balanced analysis of gun violence, or (in the case of the entertainment media), focus more on story instead of violence to make money, These negative perceptions of the USA would likely be soothed a bit.

Perhaps, too, reminding people that the United States, on the timeline of civilizations, is a mewling infant. At 250 years of existence, we are barely out of diapers. We are also, very close to that time when being armed WAS a matter of survival…and old habits die hard, so guns occupy a larger part of the American psyche than in other, older, societies.

All this having been said, I would answer the question this way. Perhaps you cannot reassure them. That is not a problem as there are many places in the world to enjoy. Tell them that the picture they get of America is a distorted one, and does not truly represent reality here.

God Help Us All

Be safe, get vaccinated, wear mask where appropriate, wash hands, and social distance.

Bee Man Dave

This entry was posted in Ethics, Family, General Thoughts, Humanity, Improving Life, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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