American Barbarism

This American Life Goes to School

March 29, 2013

Last month, President Obama made a speech in Chicago, a city that has been ravaged by gun violencein the past few years, in which he lamented that “too many of our children are being taken away from us.”

One of the places bearing the brunt of that loss is Harper High School in Chicago’s South Side. Last year, a total of 29 current and recent students of the school were shot. Eight of them died. Last month, NPR’s This American Life did a two-part series on the school to find out “how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances.” They spent five months at the school, talking with teachers, students and parents about what it’s like to live amidst persistent gun violence.

The result is a stunning piece of journalism. Listen in:


I listened to the This American Life program twice in the past few weeks.


How the hell are children supposed to learn when they are subject to a level of PTSD equal to any actively deployed soldier?! Not quite genocide (I world never use the word loosely), but the perpetuation of an underclass with fewer and fewer options.

Among the barbaric elements of American culture:
– Acceptance of a perpetual homeless population
– Acceptance of a perpetual non-white underclass (black, Hispanic, certain Asian communities)
– Refusal to impose basic regulation on the sale and possession of firearms.


One response to “American Barbarism

  1. Marilyn,
    Thank you for this post. I had not heard the This American Life reports, which are great journalism and also truly heart-breaking.

    Your questions are spot on. How do we allow our children to go through this nightmare? Why is no one concerned about it?

    It is mostly about how much money we are willing to invest. And at present that is a very small amount. We are really soon going to have to decide whether we are in this together or whether it’s all about how much some of us can accumulate for ourselves.

    Yes, the right wing forces will control the debate, but when it comes down to it, we have to decide whether a flat screen TV or a smart phone or some other possessions are worth our children’s future. Or maybe the question is whether we want to own up to these kids being our own children? Maybe that’s what we have to work on. What Crystal Smith said about her counseling: “But it’s not over.”


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