Saturday, April 4, 2009

Killings mount across America as economic downturn and national doom takes greater toll; something terribly is wrong with this country

The ongoing spate of national killings is cause for concern and perhaps even action by federal, state and local officials.

The killing of 14 people seeking to become American citizens and picking up the necessary skills at a non-profit in Binghamton, N.Y., is the latest tragedy. Just after that horror, three Pittsburgh police officers were gunned down responding to a domestic violence call.

On the West Coast, four Oakland police officers were killed on a routine traffic stop by a parole violator.

In Alabama, a man shot up several other locations, taking 11 lives.

A man shot up a North Carolina rehab center, taking eight lives.

Nashville just had two killings in one night. One victim was a star high school football player making his way through life by being a positive force and a kind person. He was shot and killed by another teen living on the same street.

It is easy to draw a line between the growing incidents and the nation's economic decline and a growing sense of doom. While Wall Street has rallied over derelict accounting changes called mark to market for banks suffering from their own bad decisions, the rest of the country is suffering from shocking levels of unemployment and a lack of employment opportunities.

AP writer Ted Anthony writes that we may be a nation no longer able to cope:

People are of course responsible for their actions, but it's hard to avoid wondering what's afoot in the darkest recesses of what we like to call American exceptionalism. For so long, the national narrative has been so bullish about equality of opportunity, so persuasive in its romance of possibility for all. Is it so subversive to speculate, then, that when the engine of possibility runs into roadblocks, people can't cope?

Without excusing one whit of the violent tendencies that ended with so many bullets in so many bodies from Binghamton to North Carolina to Alabama to California in the past month, isn't it time, finally, to figure out where this national dream makes a wrong turn?

''Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type,'' a man named Charles Whitman wrote one day in 1966. Then he ascended a tower at the University of Texas, looked out over the campus, pulled out a shotgun, three rifles and three pistols and killed 16 people.

Forty-three years and countless reams of research and lost loved ones later, we have not figured it out. Today, the American Civic Association in Binghamton says so. The Pittsburgh Police Department says so. The vulnerable people at the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Carthage, N.C., say so.

President Obama returns from Europe to a nation on the brink and at risk for the latest tragedy from someone with a gun.

Something beyond mega billions of dollars to the financial industry and more troops sent to Afghanistan needs to be done right here at home.

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